The hypothesis that sagebrush taxa are equally utilized by mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus hemionus) on winter range was tested. Five taxa were studied for 10 years at 2 locations. The taxa were Artemisia tridentata ssp. tridentata (basin big sagebrush), A. t. ssp. wyomingensis (Wyoming big sagebrush), A. t. ssp. vaseyana (mountain big sagebrush), A. tripartita ssp. tripartita (tall threetip sagebrush), and A. arbuscula ssp. arbuscula (low sagebrush). Possible mule deer preferences were determined each year individually for the 2 sites. Utilization was high enough to conclude all taxa are important forage, but not excessive enough to mask preference. Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana (34.4%) and A. arbuscula ssp. arbuscula (35.6%) were preferred over A. t. ssp. wyomingensis (10.9%) and A. t. ssp. tridentata (6.8%) at the Ashbough site. At the Scudder site there were few differences in preference for A. t. ssp. vaseyana (32.1%), A. t. ssp. wyomingensis (28.8%), and A. tripartita ssp. tripartita (32.0%). While ungulates often demonstrate a preference among taxa, all sagebrush taxa are a potentially valuable forage source.
Wambolt, Carl L.
"Mule deer foraging preference among five sagebrush (Artemisia L.) taxa,"
Western North American Naturalist: Vol. 61
, Article 13.
Available at: http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/wnan/vol61/iss4/13