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Research Project: REDUCING THE IMPACT OF INVASIVE WEEDS IN NORTHERN GREAT PLAINS RANGELANDS THROUGH BIOLOGICAL CONTROL AND COMMUNITY RESTORATION

Location: Pest Management Research

Title: Seed production areas for the global restoration challenge

Author
item Nevill, P - University Of Western Australia
item Tomlinson, S - University Of Western Australia
item Elliott, C - University Of Western Australia
item Dixon, K - Kings Park & Botanical Gardens
item Espeland, Erin
item Merritt, D - Kings Park & Botanical Gardens

Submitted to: Ecology and Evolution
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/12/2016
Publication Date: 9/27/2016
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5863763
Citation: Nevill, P.G., Tomlinson, S., Elliott, C.P., Dixon, K.D., Espeland, E.K., Merritt, D.J. 2016. Seed production areas for the global restoration challenge . Ecology and Evolution. 6(20):7490-7497. doi:10.1002/ece3.2455.

Interpretive Summary: Seed availability of wild species is fundamental to the conservation of biodiversity and the achievement functional restoration. The current and future demands for seeds for restoration and reforestation far exceed what can be practically, economically, and ethically sourced from the wild. Seed Production Areas (SPA) are central to the effectiveness and timeliness of large-scale restoration (1000s to 100,000s hectares) of biodiverse plant communities. Appropriately- developed SPA will alleviate overharvesting pressures placed on wild plant populations, improve the quantity and reliability of seed available, provide seeds of plant species that no longer exist in the wild, and improve seed quality control. Appropriate SPA management involves balancing three outcomes: 1) engineering of the SPA for quality yields, 2) selecting and maintaining appropriate plant materials, and 3) the provision of necessary ecosystem services (pollination, gene flow, soil health, nurse plants) to produce seeds from more ecologically-sensitive species. The balance among these outcomes can only be achieved by designing SPAs for their specific function – therefore SPAs may be isolated monocultures of key species, or biodiverse harvesting plots within an intact landscape. Integrating local communities into restoration and SPA business practices will have long-lasting economic and technological benefits.

Technical Abstract: Seed availability of wild species is fundamental to the conservation of biodiversity and the achievement of global ecosystem restoration or reforestation targets. The current and future demands for seeds for restoration and reforestation far exceed what can be practically, economically, and ethically sourced from the wild, and seed supply is increasingly limiting effective restoration. The recent global assessment of forest genetic resources adopted by the FAO in June 2013, for example, calls for policy-makers to reinforce national seed programs to provide sufficient quantities of genetically appropriate seeds for plantations and restoration; acknowledging an IUCN commitment to restoring 150 million hectares globally by 2020. Seed Production Areas (SPA) are central to the effectiveness and timeliness of large-scale restoration (1000s to 100,000s hectares) of biodiverse plant communities. Appropriately- developed SPA will (i) alleviate overharvesting pressures placed on wild plant populations; (ii) improve the quantity and reliability of seed available, as seed production by wild plants often sporadic and unpredictable, or difficult to find and access; (iii) provide seeds of plant species that no longer exist in the wild, and; (iv) improve seed quality control including the introduction of desirable traits where required (e.g. Leger and Baugham 2014). For example, >28,000 ha of remnant North American tallgrass prairies are targeted for restoration, however, these native grasslands currently occupy between 0.01 and 2.5% of their historical range. The implicit scaling problem makes it obvious that harvesting of seeds from wild plants, especially local ecotypes, constrains restoration pace and success because so few seed sources remain.