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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Forage and Range Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #317612

Research Project: Develop Improved Plant Genetic Resources to Enhance Pasture and Rangeland Productivity in the Semiarid Regions of the Western U.S.

Location: Forage and Range Research

Title: Maximizing seed resources for restoration in an uncertain future

Author
item BROADHURST, LINDA - Commonwealth Scientific And Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
item Jones, Thomas
item SMITH, FORREST - Texas A&M University
item NORTH, TOM - Australian National University
item GUJA, LYDIA - Australian National University

Submitted to: Bioscience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/7/2015
Publication Date: 1/1/2016
Citation: Broadhurst, L.M., Jones, T.A., Smith, F.S., North, T., Guja, L. 2016. Maximizing seed resources for restoration in an uncertain future. Bioscience. 66:73-79.

Interpretive Summary: Restoration is being undertaken at a variety of spatial scales by a large number of stakeholders of variable experience and capacity, ranging from local landholders and small community groups to large broad scale government- and privately-funded programs. Barriers to wildland seed collection for some species include limited numbers of individuals and populations, natural stands being contaminated with weeds, and populations being located on dangerous or rough terrain. These factors not only constrain seed availability, they can also significantly increase the cost of seed. This unpredictability, unreliability, and high cost can be further exacerbated in highly fragmented landscapes if seed quality and quantity are compromised by inbreeding. Seed production areas are one mechanism to help overcome current seed supply issues and/or requirements to use local seed. It is unfeasible to expect that the full diversity of native species and their genetic diversity or adaptive potential can be established in cultivation to meet the need to rebuild diverse ecosystems. Therefore, wildland seed collection will continue to be an important component for restoring ecosystem diversity in many regions. Restoration programs of the future will likely require new approaches where seed production areas and wildland-harvested seed are sourced synergistically to improve restoration outcomes.

Technical Abstract: Seed is the fundamental unit of restoration, but climate change is expected to significantly influence plant reproduction, impacting on seed availability and viability as well as planting opportunities. Meeting growing restoration targets within these constraints in new and unfamiliar climates will be challenging. Consequently, it is necessary to develop a range of flexible strategies to ensure that sufficient volumes of viable seed are available to take advantage of planting opportunities under novel environmental scenarios. This requires coordinated leadership to align funding and planting timelines, the use of seed production areas to improve seed supply, building and maintaining suitable infrastructure to stockpile seed, encouraging research to overcome storage and germination constraints, and developing and implementing new technologies. Increased tolerance to risk and failure will also be required as the application of current restoration practices may not be appropriate as climate changes.