Great Basin Naturalist


Wintering mule deer showed differential browsing preference among 21 accessions of big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) grown on gardens on three different mule deer herd ranges. The Hobble Creek accession of big sagebrush was significantly preferred over the other 20 accessions across all three sites and for all three years. Accessional preference means for the study period for all sites combined ranged from 28.3 to 57.5%. The data collected support the planned release of the Hobble Creek accession as a superior cultivar of big sagebrush for use on mule deer winter ranges. Plant coumarin content was primarily under genetic control, but site factors also had an effect. Assay for coumarin compounds is useful in determining subspecies of A. tridentata but not for precise prediction of mule deer browsing preference.