Dryland Riparian Restoration: A Nature-Based Solution to Mitigate Drought, Erosion, Flooding, and Atmospheric Carbon

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Claire Karban, Michael Lauria, Kristen Such, Nikolaus Correll, Christoffer Heckman, and Nichole Barger

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Over 70 percent of global drylands have experienced degradation and loss of ecosystem services. The need to maintain and restore these services make drylands a focal system for the U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. Despite the widespread extent of degradation on drylands, there are many gaps in our understanding of plant establishment in seeded restoration. Seeded restoration aims to restore plant biodiversity, forage, and habitat, yet fewer than 10% of seeds successfully establish across dryland restoration projects globally. This failure can be traced to the germination and emergence life history stages, suggesting that the abiotic requirements for germination and emergence are not being met. Locations where these requirements are met, favorable microsites, are often identifiable by microtopography or remnant vegetation. Until recently, identifying microtopography and remnant vegetation across large spatial scales was not feasible. However, advances in perception and sensing technology, such as RealSense cameras and flash lidar, offer new possibilities to identify these features and deliver seeds. In this study, we conduct experiments to quantify the parameters of several common microsites that could improve germination and emergence in a degraded dryland field experiment. We will report on the diameter and depth of soil depressions, the size of soil cracks, the presence of litter, and the amount of shrub shade as they impact plant establishment. We will further share key takeaways on how this data can be used in combination with in situ perception and sensing to identify and deliver seeds to favorable microsites for scalable restoration.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program