This will be a full-day symposium, composed of three 2-hr sessions. We have organized 6 speakers per session for a total of 18 speakers.  Thematically, the first section is “Getting Seeds” with 6 subsections (speakers 1-8). The second section is “Using Seeds” with 5 subsections (speakers 9-18).

 

Organizers: International Network for Seed-based Restoration

Kingsley Dixon, Chair

Stephanie Frischie, Secretary

Olga Kildisheva, Director-at-large

Seeds are an adaptation to survive unfavorable conditions and to disperse in space and in time, thus playing a key part in the assembly and regeneration of existing and future plant communities. Seed-based restoration harnesses the practicality and diversity of these attributes to revegetate, enrich, or conserve plant communities. This is especially true and important as restoration sites worldwide are increasingly altered and degraded by extreme wildfires, invasive species, fragmentation, mining and climate change. For these situations, seed-addition is essential along with management to achieve restoration goals. The native seed sector has advanced in recent decades, however, there are many challenges and opportunities associated with the use of native plant seeds in restoration. This symposium covers best-practices and current research relevant to obtaining seeds for restoration including seed needs assessment, seed sourcing, seed procurement models, seed increase and seed collection. The second section of the symposium focuses on using seeds and the sub-topics of seed technology, seedling production, seed innovations, and seeding and deployment. 

 

Summary:

Native seeds are effective and ideal for delivering restoration success, yet many challenges exist to optimizing their use. In this full-day symposium focused on sourcing and using native seeds, researchers and commercial professionals present a range of topics from genetics to certification to seed production.

Session Speaker Presentation
1 Kingsley Dixon Can we meet the seed challenge in global restoration?
1 Francis Kilkenny Prioritizing seed needs and seed transfer in the Western United States, a cooperative effort.
1 Paula Meli Selecting species and seeds for forest restoration in tropical rural landscapes.
1 Kayri Havens Seed sourcing: How to make the best decisions about what seed provenances to collect and where to use them in restoration.
1 Berta Youtie Collecting Wildland Seed: Selecting Seed Sources and Insuring Genetic Diversity.
1 Stephanie Frischie From the flower to the field: Global examples of best-practices for collecting seeds from the wild for use in restoration.
2 Clinton C. Shock Ecological restoration hurdles to use rarely cultivated plants; Developing reliable seed production technology.
2 Greg Houseal Scaling up native seed supply through commercialization of source identified seed for tallgrass prairie restoration.
2 Maria Marin Tetrazolium staining predicts germination of commercial seed lots of European native species differing in seed quality.
2 Olga Kildisheva From dormancy to establishment: Addressing key bottlenecks to plant recruitment in a restoration context.
2 Simone Pedrini Seed enhancement for ecological restoration.
2 Anthony S. Davis Addressing global seed challenges in seedling nurseries.
3 Edward Toth Nursery production of wild seed resources: Managing genetics while maximizing production.
3 Anita Kirmer Using native seed in restoration of species-rich habitats – best practice examples from Germany.
3 Sabine Tischew Drastic site-preparation is key to long-term reintroduction success of the highly endangered xeric grassland species Jurinea cyanoides.
3 Yuping Rong Using native grass seed to restore degraded grassland in northern China—examples for Leymus chinensis (Trin.) Tzvel.
3 Jeffrey Ott Strategies and equipment and for large-scale, multi-species native seedings in North American drylands.
3 Marcello De Vitis The role of networks connecting native seed stakeholders and improving success in ecological restoration.

 

Three 2-hour sessions, 6 speakers/session

 

Session 1 Getting Seeds (part 1/2)

The need for global seed capacity

 

 1. “Can we meet the seed challenge in global restoration?” Kingsley Dixon

Professor and Director, ARC Centre for Mine Site Restoration, Department of Environment and Agriculture, Curtin University, Bently WA, Australia

Abstract: As the speakers in this symposium will highlight, there is a growing gap between restoration need and the ability through provision of plant materials to achieve the scale of restoration hoped for and indeed, promised. Whether it is the Bonn Challenge or more modest 'backyard' restoration, seed sits at the heart of providing the foundational restorative materials. Three major issues sit at the heart of the seed-based capability to deliver effective restoration - sourcing seed at the tonnages required; ensuring seed is stored and managed to ensure effective germinative capacity and, deployment to site ensures seed wastage is minimised. These three core areas are the backbone of moving forward with seed-based restoration. The International Network for Seed-based Restoration (INSR), the only seed-dedicated restoration organisation and a Section of the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER) International is committed to linking seed producers and seed users for more effective global outcomes. From China to Surinam to sub-antarctic islands, restoration is now an effective partner in delivering conservation with effective seed use being critical to ensuring on-going growth and success in delivering a greener more biodiverse world.

Seed needs assessment: Knowing the when, why and what to collect. Planning (multi-disciplinary, multi-year, multi-agency or entity, planned and unplanned [e.g. wildfire] disturbances); incorporation of recent strategies, mandates, risk assessments, protection of rare species; consideration of sub-specific taxa, varied ploidy levels, timelines for each species.

 

2. “Prioritizing seed needs and seed transfer in the Western United States, a cooperative effort.”

Francis Kilkenny1, Fred Edwards2, Sarah Kulpa3, John Proctor4

1United States Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Boise, Idaho, USA (ffkilkenny@fs.fed.us)

2United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Reno, Nevada, USA(fsedwards@blm.gov)

3Sarah Kulpa United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Reno, Nevada, USA (sarah_kulpa@fws.gov)

4United States Forest Service, Ogden, Utah, USA (jproctor@fs.fed.us)

Abstract: The United States Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Land Management are cooperating on developing seed transfer guidelines and plant materials for priority grass and forb species for use in restoration in the Great Basin and arid ecosystems across the Western United States. This talk will discuss the prioritization process, including how expected disturbances influence where needs will occur, how knowledge on ecological processes is being leveraged, and what taxonomic and genetic considerations are being addressed. Aspects of the prioritization process are being developed into a seed menu tool that will made available to managers in the region. This talk will also discuss coordination of seed collections across a large region, using agency support in cooperation with the Chicago Botanic Garden's Conservation and Land Management Internship Program, and the development of a common garden network, with agency and University cooperators, to test seed transfer distances for priority species.

 

3. “Selecting species and seeds for forest restoration in tropical rural landscapes.”

Paula Meli1,2, Renata Cao de la Fuente3, Alonso Cruz4, Irene Valdovinos5, Julia Carabias6

1 Escola Superior de Agricultura "Luiz de Queiroz", Departamento de Ciências Florestais, Universidade de São Paulo, Piracicaba, Brasil, pmeli@usp.br

2Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos, A.C., México DF, México

3Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad,

San Cristóbal de las Casas, México

4Desarrollo y Gestión Territorial en la Selva Lacandona A.C., Boca de Chajul, México

5Producciones Agroforestales Ara Maco S.P. de R.L., Boca de Chajul, México

6Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México DF, México.

Abstract: Restoration projects of highly diverse forest should integrate relevant ecological, social and technical criteria to select species for reintroduction. In Marqués de Comillas municipality, southeast Mexico, we used five criteria relating ecological, social and technical information to select tree species for riparian forest restoration. We targeted on species that (1) are important in the reference forest; (2) are less likely to establish following disturbance; (3) are not specific to a particular habitat; (4) are socially accepted; and (5) their propagation requires a reasonable time and financial investment. Out of a local pool of 97 species, we identified 30 target species that together represented >60% of the species importance value in the reference forests. For 20 species, reintroduction by means of active restoration was deemed necessary. Nearly half of the species showed technical constraints for easy propagation and seeding. The selection processes involved participation of local communities, in order to promote their involvement and empowering. Species that established through natural regeneration, following secondary regrowth, had lower social value among local farmers. The progress of the project gave encouragement to young people of one community. They applied for and got financial support to build a nursery and received training on seed collection and propagation from governmental agencies. The nursery produced thousands of native plants, and was included in the list of nurseries supplying plants for restoration projects funded by public agencies. Seed collection and management, and plant propagation may be good options for social involvement in restoration projects.

 

Seed sourcing:

Where you collect seed and why. Genetics, adaptation, decision support tools, seed zone maps. 

 

4. “Seed sourcing: How to make the best decisions about what seed provenances to collect and where to use them in restoration.”

Kayri Havens and Andrea Kramer, Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, Illinois, USA

Abstract: Proper sourcing of seed for ecological restoration has never been straightforward, and it is becoming even more challenging and complex as the climate changes. For decades, restoration practitioners have subscribed to the “local is best” tenet, even if the definition of “local” was often widely divergent between projects. However, given rapid climate change, we can no longer assume that locally-sourced seeds are always the best option. We discuss how plants are responding to changing climates through plasticity, adaptation, and migration and how this may influence seed sourcing decisions. We review provisional seed zone maps and seed decision tools, including a new tool under development to assess options of plant provenance based on the goals and context of a given project (based on results from a workshop hosted by Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware, USA). We recommend focusing on developing adequate supplies of “workhorse” species, undertaking more focused collections in both “bad” years and “bad” sites to maximize the potential to be able to adapt to extreme conditions as well as overall genetic diversity, and increasing seed storage capacity to ensure we have we have seed available as we continue to conduct research to determine how best to deploy it in a changing climate.

 

Seed procurement models: Making the right choices in obtaining native seed. In-house collection, contract collection, regional multi-entity seed banks or networks, commercial purchase, certification and seed lot origin.

 

5. “Collecting Wildland Seed: Selecting Seed Sources and Insuring Genetic Diversity.”

Berta Youtie1 and Nancy Shaw2

1Eastern Oregon Stewardship Services, Deschutes Basin Seed Bank, Prineville, Oregon, USA

2USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Boise, Idaho, USA

Abstract: A vital element of any restoration project is the selection of ecologically appropriate species based on inspection of planting site conditions and reference areas. Planting site-adapted, genetically diverse seed is essential to provide resiliency to climate change and other disturbances. Provisional seed zone maps based on climatic and other environmental factors may be used to select areas for harvesting seeds. In the western United States, species-specific seed zones developed from genecological studies are available for a limited, but increasing number of widespread restoration species. Seed zone maps and related tools are available online. Additional factors, including requirements for sub-specific taxa or ploidy levels or restriction of collection to specific elevation bands may further direct harvesting. Seed collection protocols recommend harvesting from at least 50 widely separated plants in each of five or more populations within a seed zone to insure genetic diversity; additional guidance is provided to insure collection of mature seed and preclude excessive harvesting. As an alternative to in-house and contract collection and commercial purchases, non-profit seed cooperatives offer a means of stabilizing seed supplies of local sources in areas with land ownership mosaics. Cooperatives collect species agreed upon by the members, arrange for storage, coordinate grower contracts, and handle sales to members. The Deschutes Basin Native Plant Seedbank in Central Oregon, USA, for example, sells approximately 3,000 pounds of native seed annually to federal, state, and local governments, NGO's, utility companies, and private landowners.

 

Seed collection:

Getting it right in collecting and storing seed. Collection protocols and techniques, equipment, maturity indices, permitting, wildland certification, post-harvest handling, protection and management of wildland stands/orchards.

 

6. “From the flower to the field: Global examples of best-practices for collecting seeds from the wild for use in restoration.”

Stephanie Frischie1,2, Cándido Gálvez Ramirez1, Stacy Jacobsen3, Maria Tudela Isanta2, Greg Livovich4

1Semillas Silvestres, S.L., Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain

2Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Pavia, Pavia, Lombardy, Italy

3Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, San Francisco, California, USA

4Forest Preserve District of Will County, Joliet, Illinois, USA

Abstract: Multiple options are available for obtaining seeds to use in restoration and the method of choice will vary depending on project goals and constraints. Seeds collected from natural and spontaneous plant populations are important as restoration seed mixes, foundation seed for establishing production beds, germplasm for developing cultivars, and seed bank accessions for research and ex situ conservation. For most regions and for most species, seed farming is nonexistent, impractical, or insufficient to meet the demand of seeds for restoration. We discuss the range of approaches for obtaining seeds: wild collection, contract collection, in-house production, purchase and the advantages/disadvantages of each. With experiences and practices from around the world, we give practical considerations for making wild collections: planning which species and quantities, locating populations, securing permission, evaluating populations, collecting the seeds, recommendations for tools and field safety. Particular examples come from South America (Bolivia), North America (USA: California, Indiana, Illinois, Montana), and Europe (Spain, Italy and Scotland). Finally, we review best-practices for seed handling and short-term storage of seeds between collection and deployment.

 

Session 2 Getting Seeds (part 2/2) and Using Seeds (part 1/2)

 

Seed increase:

The role of seed farms for native seeds. Maintenance of genetic diversity, seeding rates, dates, depths, equipment; seedling establishment, irrigation, nutrient requirements, weed control, insect and disease issues, pollinator requirements, phenological development, crop certification, maturation indices and dates, harvesting equipment and techniques, yields, seed drying, seed cleaning, seed storage.

 

7. “Ecological restoration hurdles to use rarely cultivated plants; Developing reliable seed production technology.”

Clinton C. Shock1, Erik B.G. Feibert1, and Nancy L. Shaw2

1 Malheur Experiment Station, Oregon State University, Oregon, USA

2USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Boise, Idaho, USA

Abstract: The use of seed for ecological restoration assumes adequate supplies are available. When adequate seed supplies cannot be collected in the wild, they need to be cultivated and harvested. Commonly cultivated crops and ornamental plants have well defined seed production practices. Infrequently cultivated species present numerous challenges to overcome. The best timing for planting and placement of seeds in the soil may be unknown. Seedling survival can be compromised or promoted by various factors. Plants may present seed production problems, once many plants of the same species are grown in close proximity. In the wild these problems may have been mitigated by the plants not being numerous or being widely dispersed. Weeds, insect pests, and diseases may need to be controlled to allow the planted species of interest to thrive. Soil nutrient and water needs for seed production must be met. Most plants require pollination for seed production, some requiring specific pollinators. Specific harvest practices, harvest timing, and seed cleaning must be developed for each species. Experimentation to develop stand establishment and irrigation technology for seed production of rarely cultivated plants will be described in detail.

 

8. “Scaling up native seed supply through commercialization of source identified seed for tallgrass prairie restoration.”

Greg Houseal

Tallgrass Prairie Center, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA (gregory.houseal@uni.edu)

Abstract: Scaling up the supply of appropriate native seed sources to meet restoration demand is a challenge. This is particularly true in highly-disturbed agricultural landscapes where much of the original genetic source material from remnant populations has been destroyed and the need for restoration is high. Commercial production of native seed is one solution but requires balancing desired ecological outcomes with economic realities that ultimately influence which species and seed sources are produced, available in adequate supply, and affordable. The Natural Selections Seed program at the Tallgrass Prairie Center, University of Northern Iowa, USA has utilized the source identified seed certification program since 1994 to collect, increase, and commercialize three regional sources of seed in the state of Iowa for prairie restoration. Guided by ecological and genetic principles, source germplasm is collected from small and scattered prairie remnants for greenhouse seedling production, and transplanted into nurseries for foundation seed increase. Foundation seed is subsequently released to qualified growers for commercial production, driven economically by the market for seed to restore state and county transportation corridors with prairie species. To date, Natural Selections Seed has developed and released 70 species for commercial production and over 1.25 million pounds (567,000 kg) of source-identified seed have been produced since 1996. Statewide, 140-180 native species are certified annually by commercial producers. Of interest to other seed increase projects, the trade-off between the ecology and economics of native seed development and production will be presented.

 

Using Seeds (part 1/2)

Smart seeds:

Making every seed count in restoration. Seed enablement, coating and pelleting, conditioning, storage, germination/dormancy, seed testing protocols, seed certification.

 

9. “Tetrazolium staining predicts germination of commercial seed lots of European native species differing in seed quality.”

Maria Marin1,2, Peter. Toorop3, Alison. Powell4 and Giles. Laverack1 

1 Scotia Seeds, Mavisbank, Farnell, Brechin, DD9 6TR, UK (mariamarin@scotiaseeds.co.uk; giles@scotiaseeds.co.uk) 

2 University of Pavia, Corso Strada Nuova 65, 27100, Pavia, Italy 

3 Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Wakehurst Place, Ardingly, West Sussex, RH17 6TN, UK (p.toorop@kew.org) 

4 Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Cruickshank Building, 23 St Machar Drive, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 3UU, UK (a.a.powell@abdn.ac.uk)

Abstract: Little attention has been paid to the importance of seed quality of native species, with implications for the success of grassland restoration in Europe. Furthermore, methods for quantifying seed quality are often limited and there are neither regulatory levels nor industry standards in most European countries. Our objectives were to: investigate the germination potential of113 commercially available seed lots of eight European native species, examine the requirement for dormancy-breaking treatment across the seed lots and species and investigate a rapid assessment of the potential seed performance of native species using a modification of the tetrazolium (TZ) test. Laboratory germination (radicle emergence) of seed lots of single species from different suppliers was highly variable (0 to 99%). There was no effect of seed lot on the effective dormancy-breaking treatment for six of the eight species. Each lot originated from a different supplier, which suggests that seed lot origin did not influence the effective dormancy-breaking treatment. A TZ testing protocol was developed for the eight species which predicted germination of each species in only two days (R2 ranged from 0.81 - 0.98). The significant relationship between TZ and germination also applied across all species (R2 = 0.95). The quality of native seeds therefore varied widely between European suppliers, while dormancy was present only in a limited number of seed lots. The relationship between the TZ test results and final germination across all species and families suggests that the TZ test could be applied to native species in general to predict germination.

 

10. “From dormancy to establishment: Addressing key bottlenecks to plant recruitment in a restoration context.”

Olga Kildisheva1,2,3, Todd Erickson1,2, Matthew Madsen4, Dave Merritt1,2, and Kingsley Dixon5

1University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia (olga.kildisheva@research.uwa.edu.au)

2Kings Park Botanic Garden, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia, (Todd.Erickson@bgpa.wa.gov.au), (David.Merritt@bgpa.wa.gov.au)

3Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago, Illinois, USA

4Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, USA (matthew.madsen@byu.edu)

5Curtin University, Bentley, Western Australia, Australia (kingsley.dixon@curtin.edu.au)

Abstract: With more than half the world’s ecosystems classified as degraded, the need for restoration at a landscape-scale is now beginning to be broadly recognized. Restoration efforts rely heavily on large quantities of seed, which are either produced by commercial growers or wild-collected and require substantial labor and financial inputs. Research has shown that the majority of seeds (ca. 90-95%) used for restoration fail to germinate or emerge. Globally, more than half of all native angiosperms produce seeds that exhibit seed dormancy at maturity. Mitigating key limitations to plant reestablishment associated with early life plant traits (i.e. dormancy, germination, emergence) as well as minimizing edaphic and environmental limitations to recruitment and survival can significantly increase the effectiveness of seed-based restoration. To address this issue systematically, we discuss a three-stage conceptual framework that can be used to guide strategies for improving the likelihood of seed germination and seedling establishment in situ. The framework involves (1) the classification of seed dormancy in region-specific restoration species, (2) the application of a corresponding treatment to alleviate dormancy, and (3) the identification and use of seed enhancement technologies (e.g. seed priming, coating, chemical stimulants, etc.) to further improve seedling emergence and establishment tailored to a “target restoration” scenario. We demonstrate the global applicability of this framework through examples from the Pilbara (Australia) and Great Basin (USA) ecosystems.

 

11. “Seed enhancement for ecological restoration.”

Simone Pedrini1,2, David Merritt2,3, Jason Stevens2,3, Adam Cross1,2, and Kingsley Dixon1,3

1Department of Environment and Agriculture, Curtin University, Kent Street, Bentley, 6102, Western Australia, Australia

2Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Fraser Avenue, Kings Park, 6005, Western Australia, Australia

3School of Plant Biology, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley WA 6009, Western Australia, Australia

Abstract: Ecological restoration at the planetary scales expected will demand a new approach for improving the reliability and effective field application of native seed. Timely and successful seed germination and seedling emergence are core to ensuring plant establishment. However, many issues such as limited seed availability, low seed quality and viability, seed dormancy, ecological barriers, seasonal impacts, and logistical impediments in seed deployment have so far hampered the success of seed-based restoration. To overcome these impediments, this study evaluated a range of agricultural seed enhancement technologies adapted and customised to native species. The study investigated four common and widespread grass species native to Australia which are usually ‘un-treated’ in their deployment to field restoration sites. We developed a framework for native seed enhancement that takes into consideration key steps in the seed supply chain: 1) Seed processing: if external structures such as florets limit seed physical/physiological activity and seed handling. Their removal was evaluated using a range of different techniques like mechanical abrasion, flash flaming and acid digestion. 2) Seed enhancement with germination promoters and growth regulators. 3) Seed coating to improve seed handling/sowability and as a carrier for seed protectants and promoters. Seed processing techniques, especially acid digestion, significantly improved germination and seed handling, compared to the untreated seed across the four species. Seed enhancement and coating approaches showed that improved flowability occurs when seed is coated/pelleted. This framework represents a useful tool for researchers and restoration practitioners and could lead to a more effective and efficient use of seed in restoration.

Seedling production and planting: Growing the right plant for effective greenstock management. Maintenance of genetic diversity, nursery cultural practices, species and project specific seedling specifications (container or bareroot, container size, seedling characteristics), timelines.

 

12. “Addressing global seed challenges in seedling nurseries.”

Anthony S. Davis1, Mohammad Alnsour2, Areg Karapetyan3, Sabine Deristin4, Karma Bouazza5, Wilman Placido6, Becca Lieberg7, Nicklos Dudley8, Kaitlin Gerber1, Christina St. John1, Matt Davis1, Carson Alberg1, Rebecca Sheridan1, Amy Ross-Davis1, and Jeremiah R. Pinto9

1Oregon State University College of Forestry, Corvallis, Oregon, USA

2Sustainable Environment and Economic Development, Amman, Jordan 

3Foundation for the Preservation of Wildlife and Cultural Assets, Yerevan, Armenia 

4Turner Nursery, Kenscoff, Haiti 

5Lebanon Reforestation Initiative, Beirut, Lebanon 

6Ministry of the Environment, Boca de Nigua, Dominican Republic 

7University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA 

8Hawaii Agricultural Research Council, Oahu, Hawaii, USA 

9US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Moscow, Idaho, USA

Abstract: Globally, forest and rangeland restoration using native species often starts with the procurement of seed. Whether using direct seeding or seedlings, a frequent challenge is to obtain seed that is of appropriate origin and biological quality to meet the needs of the project. For those projects that employ the use of seedlings, the Target Plant Concept provides a framework that promulgates a holistic process from seed selection through nursery culture to outplanting and post-planting practices. Using examples from contemporary nursery projects in Armenia, Haiti, Jordan, Lebanon, Togo, and the United States, this presentation focuses on how forest and native plant nurseries procure and manage seed, highlighting potential roadblocks and possible solutions. By covering a scale from small, rural nurseries through to large, commercial facilities, a range of options will be discussed with the aim of presenting opportunities for production of high quality seedlings that meet the objectives of the restoration project. Whether working locally or across broad regions, some of the challenges faced are in fact quite common and include seed procurement and handling issues, appropriate consideration of population and landscape genetics, lack of propagation protocols or ecological knowledge, issues related to nursery construction and/or location, as well as species identification, training, overcoming language barriers, and on-going project financing.

 

Session 3 Using Seeds (part 2/2)

Seedling production and planting :

Growing the right plant for effective greenstock management. Maintenance of genetic diversity, nursery cultural practices, species and project specific seedling specifications (container or bareroot, container size, seedling characteristics), timelines.

13. “Nursery production of wild seed resources: Managing genetics while maximizing production.”

Edward Toth1, Jeremy LaPointe1, Camille Joseph1, Clara Holmes2 

1 Greenbelt Native Plant Center- Mid Atlantic Regional Seed Bank, City of New York, Department of Parks

2 Mid Atlantic Seed Bank

 Abstract: Although based in temperate North America and serving the highly urbanized greater New York City region, the methodologies employed by the Greenbelt Native Plant Center (GNPC) are widely applicable to the global restoration community. The GNPC carefully manages its production practices to conserve the wild genetic resources it draws on for its nursery production, as well as those of the restoration and land management sites that receive its nursery stock and increased seed. After an introduction to the Center’s four operational programs, the talk will review the various production stages from wild seed collection, through propagation and production, focusing on how the Center manages genetic resources through each stage. It will also show how we are using data management tools to facilitate this approach. The talk will also discuss the trade-offs between its nursery practices and the need for large scale production and seed increase, while showing the genesis of its best management practices over 25 years of operation. Lastly, it will show how this approach has practical implications for its use in managing plant population health and in preparing for and navigating climate change, in part by expanding its efforts out into the larger mid-Atlantic region.

 

Seeding:

Taking seed to the field and winning! Strategies, equipment, species interactions, rate/date/depths, pre-treatments, site preparation, amendments, post-sowing management.

 

14. “Using native seed in restoration of species-rich habitats – best practice examples from Germany.”

Anita Kirmer and Sabine Tischew

Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, Department for Nature Conservation and Landscape Planning, Germany

Abstract: The preservation of local biodiversity is of high importance all over the world. Local ecotypes are not only well adapted to their respective edaphic and climatic conditions, they also provide habitat as well as food sources for numerous animal species. For that reason, wild plants of local origin should be used in habitat restoration. However, availability of wild seed is still limited, and if seeds are available, they are quite expensive. Therefore, best practice approaches are in high demand to optimize restoration outcomes.We want to present several best practice examples, encompassing different starting points (minded land, agricultural sites) and target vegetation types (grasslands, field margins, flower strips). Restoration was accomplished by sowing site-specific seed mixtures of wild plants. Site preparation before sowing and management afterwards was adapted to site conditions. Vegetation development was documented by estimating percentage cover of species and layers once a year, ranging from two to 16 observation years. We analyzed overall and final establishment of sown species, their share of total vegetation cover, and the development of community structure. Before-after as well as with-without comparisons were made to evaluate restoration success. In general, establishment rate as well as the share of sown species on total cover are highest on raw soils, underlining the importance of low-competitive conditions in the establishment phase. For the same reason, an adequate mowing regime with biomass removal was highly important on productive sites. Concluding our results, we formulate some general rules for restoring species-rich habitats.

 

15. “Drastic site-preparation is key to long-term reintroduction success of the highly endangered xeric grassland species Jurinea cyanoides.”

Sabine Tischew1, Florian Kommraus1, Leonie Fischer2,3, Ingo Kowarik2,3

1Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, Department for Nature Conservation and Landscape Planning
2Department of Ecology, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany

3Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research (BBIB)

Abstract: Re-introducing endangered plant species is increasingly considered as an integral part of restoration strategies. However, little is known about the necessary extent and nature of habitat modification that secures a successful establishment of the reintroduced species. To improve the knowledge about site preparation approaches we conducted a two-site, seven-year experiment aiming at the reintroduction of the highly endangered Jurinea cyanoides into degraded sandy grasslands in Germany. Seeds were collected in remnant populations. We tested the treatments mowing, topsoil inversion, and inversion combined with application of turf cuttings on two sites with different nutrient status applying a Latin-Square design. We compared germination, seedling survival and reproduction success between treatments and sites using GLM methods. Jurinea germinated on all plots, but almost no plants survived on control and mown plots. After two years, a first Jurinea generation established successfully on both inversion treatments, with lower numbers on the nutrient-poorer site. In contrast, the onsite generative and vegetative reproduction was higher on the nutrient-poorer site over the third to the seventh year. In general, the addition of other xeric grassland species by turf cuttings hampered population growth, especially on the nutrient-richer site. Our experiment proved the necessity of a radical elimination of competing species and nutrient-rich topsoil to ensure successful reintroduction of the rare species. Our results also indicated that site conditions more suitable for establishment of the first generation are not necessarily suitable for a successful population growth in the following years, thus underlining the importance of long-term monitoring of reintroduction experiments.

 

16. “Using native grass seed to restore degraded grassland in northern China—examples for Leymus chinensis (Trin.) Tzvel.” Yuping Rong

Department of Grassland Science, Animal Science & Technology College, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China (rongyuping@cau.edu.cn)

Abstract: Leymus chinensis (2n=28) is the dominant species of grasslands in Northeast China and Inner Mongolia. It is a perennial rhizome grass, commonly grows in meadow steppe, steppe and areas with barren saline soil. Leymus chinensis grasslands are very important to herbivores grazing in summer, and haymaking for the animals in the winter. However, L. chinensis grasslands are seriously degraded due to increasing grazing pressure and haying frequency. The restoration practice based on reseeding is an effective way to restore seriously degraded grassland rapidly. The seed characteristics for low seed setting rate, seed production and seed germination restricted the utilization of reseeding in the restoration based on seed. Research for improvement of L. chinensis grasslands has been conducted for several decades in China since 1960s. Seven new cultivars of L. chinensis have been released. The seed germination of new cultivars was obtained 60-80% and increased 4 to 6 times compared to the germination rate of wild L. chinensis seeds. Combination of soil treatments and ground cover with reseeding L. chinensis may improve survival rate of seedlings and yield of L. chinensis. Adding sand or gypsum into the saline-alkali soil can increase the survival seedling rate and density of L. chinensis. Covering litter on the ground of the degraded grasslands can increase the soil moisture which facilitates the seedling survival. Restoration practices of plowing and deep scarifying the compacted soil of the degraded L. chinensis grasslands are beneficial both for native grass growth and survival of reseeding L. chinensis.

 

17. “Strategies and equipment and for large-scale, multi-species native seedings in North American drylands.”

Jeffrey Ott

U. S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Boise, Idaho, USA

Abstract: Dryland ecosystems of western North America have experienced widespread loss of native perennial grasses, shrubs and forbs due to human disturbance, wildfire and competition from invasive weeds, especially exotic annuals. Effective restoration of these ecosystems requires strategies for maximizing benefits of limited water supply, reducing weed abundance and planting mixes of seeds differing in size, form, and physiology. Agricultural equipment adapted for rangeland forage seedings and further modified for native seed mixes has proved useful for carrying out large-scale restoration in this region. Rangeland drills, for example, have been modified to separate large seeds requiring burial from smaller seeds that can be imprinted onto the soil surface. Annual weed competition can be reduced through the use of tillage, herbicides or fire prior to seeding, if appropriate. Wildfires present both a challenge and an opportunity for restoration in parts of the region where land management policies support post-fire seeding to protect soil and vegetation resources. Many managers have preferred to use conventional non-native forage species for post-fire seedings, but native species are likely to become increasingly utilized if the benefits and feasibility of their use are adequately demonstrated.

 

Seed Strategies

 

18. “The role of networks connecting native seed stakeholders and improving success in ecological restoration.”

Marcello De Vitis1, Holly Abbandonato2,3, and Costantino Bonomi2

1Scotia Seeds, Brechin, UK

2MUSE – Science Museum of Trento, Trento, Italy

3University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy

Abstract: Connecting stakeholders and facilitating the transfer of knowledge is crucial to improve success in ecological restoration. Like the nodes of the ecological networks we aim to restore, those who work with native seeds are connected and dependent on each other for information and resources to address the challenges of seed conservation, research, production and use. The International Network for Seed-based Restoration (INSR) and the Native Seed Science, Technology and Conservation Initial Training Network (NASSTEC) are two examples of international networks dedicated to connecting people working on native seeds and facilitating the transfer of knowledge to improve results in ecosystem conservation and restoration. We present the recent activities and outcomes of these two networks. As an on-line network of 420 members in 40 countries, INSR publishes articles about restoration experiences, webinars, and a quarterly e-newsletter; promotes relevant events; posts useful materials and opportunities in seed-based restoration; and hosts a discussion forum about native seeds. As a face-to-face network, INSR organises symposia where stakeholders can learn from each other about the techniques and approaches to restoration challenges. In Europe, where the native seed industry is starting to address seed capacity and policy, NASSTEC conducted a survey to identify the native seed stakeholders, and collect information on the degree of collaboration and networking. Obtaining information about and from the community of users that we are trying to connect and for whom we want to produce useful tools for, is a critical step to effectively direct our resources.