Seed Sourcing for Restoration in an Era of Climate Change

Havens, K. et al., 2015. Natural Areas Journal

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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 our increasing ability to characterize habitats, and rapid climate change, we can no longer assume that locally sourced seeds are always the best or even an appropriate option. We discuss how plants are responding to changing climates through plasticity, adaptation, and migration, and how this may influence seed sourcing decisions. 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 seed available as we continue to conduct research to determine how best to deploy it in a changing climate.

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