Submitted to: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 6, 2009
Publication Date: December 1, 2009
Citation: Jones, T.A., Monaco, T.A. 2009. A Role for Assisted Evolution in Designing Native Plant Materials for Domesticated Landscapes. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 7:541-547. Interpretive Summary: Indigenous genetic material may no longer be adapted to modified ecosystems that have crossed ecological thresholds. Manipulated plant materials specifically developed to overcome biotic and abiotic stress may be useful to restore ecosystem structure, function, and biodiversity. Two common misconceptions, the presumption that natural ecosystems are in equilibrium and the failure to consider the power of natural selection, may result in failure to choose the best restoration plant materials.
Technical Abstract: Developers of native plant materials for wildland restoration may operate under either the evolutionary paradigm, which seeks to emulate natural genetic patterns, also referred to as genetic identity, or the resource paradigm, which emphasizes empirical performance. We contend that both paradigms are legitimate and need not be mutually exclusive. Anthropogenic influences have caused many ecosystems to cross thresholds to less desirable states, such that a domesticated nature approach may be more realistic than re-creation of the original ecosystem. When domesticated nature is the objective, an emphasis on empirical performance, in conjunction with geographical origin, is a plausible dual rationale for choice of restoration plant material. We suggest that genetic manipulation of cross-pollinated populations can be performed in a "restoration-appropriate" fashion to develop plant materials for modified environments that 1) establish populations that persist and reproduce, 2) contribute to the repair of ecosystem structure and function, 3) reflect generalized historical evolutionary patterns, and 4) adapt to selection pressures of contemporary evolution.