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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Forage and Range Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #292437

Title: Ecologically appropriate plant materials for functional restoration of rangelands

item Jones, Thomas

Submitted to: Journal of Sustainable Forestry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/30/2013
Publication Date: 5/1/2014
Citation: Jones, T.A. 2014. Ecologically appropriate plant materials for functional restoration of rangelands. Journal of Sustainable Forestry. 33:93-103.

Interpretive Summary: Local genotypes are often presumed to be best for ecological restoration. However, this may not be a valid assumption for functionally modified rangelands that have crossed ecological thresholds to alternative ecological states. Such lands often fall into the category of 'novel ecosystems.' To effect functional restoration under such conditions, plant materials must be able to grow, reproduce, and persist under the modified conditions. Such 'ecologically appropriate' plant materials will become increasingly relevant for "assisting evolution" as ecosystems are inevitably and increasingly modified due to intentional or inadvertent anthropogenic forces across the globe.

Technical Abstract: Ecosystems of rangelands targeted for restoration have often been modified, hindering restoration efforts. WEhile local adaptation has long been used as an argument for the exclusive use of local plant materials, recent meta-analysis results indicate that general adaptation across a variety of environments can be just as important as local adaptation. Here I argue that 'ecologically appropriate' plant materials with enhanced general adaptation and effective expression of functional traits, including establishment and persistence, will become increasingly important as degradation increases. This approach will be useful for generalist "workhorse" species that are common, widespread, and rapidly reach reproduction maturity.