The sagebrush steppe is a particularly sensitive ecosystem that is easily disturbed by fires, oil and gas extraction, woody-plant encroachment, and overgrazing. The natural regeneration of native species following a disturbance within this system is typically slow and sporadic, which allows invasive grasses to occupy the landscape. Attempts to assist the recovery of these landscapes through direct seeding is commonly met with poor success rates, particularly in lower elevation, drier sites. Novel seed enhancement technologies and planting techniques that mitigate limiting factors impairing restoration efforts may improve the likelihood of restoring these degraded areas. For chapter 1, we evaluated a solid-matrix priming technique, where bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) and Lewis flax (Linum lewisii) were primed and then the priming matrix and seed were pelleted together. We evaluated primed seed that had been incorporated into pellets at two field sites against seed that was pelleted but been left unprimed, and untreated seed (control). These three seed treatments were planted in the spring (mid-march) in shallow (2-cm) and deep (15-cm) furrows, in a complete factorial design. We found that primed seeds generally produced higher plant densities than control seed at the beginning of the growing season; however, its influence diminished towards the end of the growing season. We also found that deep furrows increased plant density throughout the growing season and even into the following year. The combination of priming and deep furrows outperformed control seed in shallow furrows in all measured metrics. For chapter 2, we evaluated a seed conglomeration technique for improving Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata ssp. Wyomingensis) emergence and survival under fall and winter plantings. The trial was implemented at five sites across Utah and Nevada in a randomized complete block-split-split plot design, with site, and planting season, comprising the split-plot factors. Each site and season combination was seeded with conglomerated and control seed. We found that in most cases, a fall seeding of Wyoming big sagebrush was either the same or more successful compared to planting on the snow in the winter, which is the current suggested practice. Our results also demonstrated that seed conglomeration produced higher plant densities compared to control seed throughout the growing season. The higher density of plants produced from conglomerates combined with the improved seed delivery provided by the conglomeration technique was estimated to offset the cost in producing conglomerates and reduce overall restoration costs by 41%.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences



Date Submitted


Document Type





priming, seed enhancement, microsite manipulation, bluebunch wheatgrass, Lewis flax, Wyoming big sagebrush, broadcast seeding, low purity seed, planting season



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Life Sciences Commons