Forb Common Garden Research to Inform Seed Transfer Guidance for Restoration

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Sarah Barga, Francis Kilkenny, Fred Edwards, Tessa Bartz

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As landscape-scale disturbances increase, understanding how to restore plant communities is of critical importance. Part of incorporating native plants into restoration is understanding the level of flexibility they display when moved away from their location of origin. Some species are more flexible to novel conditions than others, and many aridland species display population-level variation in performance. Common gardens are a tool for examining variation in performance across the range of a species, and the best way to develop seed transfer guidance for restoration. While past common garden work conducted by the Great Basin Native Plant Project (USFS – Rocky Mountain Research Station and BLM – Plant Conservation and Restoration Program) has focused on dominant perennial grasses, their current work focuses on native forbs. We selected three species of forbs common across the Great Basin and known to be of interest for restoration due to their value as forage and cover resources for wildlife. To allow for population genetics work to occur alongside the common garden study, both seeds and plant tissue were collected for some species. In this talk, I will discuss the technical aspects of carrying out a large-scale common garden project and present preliminary results for the first year of plant performance. A project of this scale also requires many partners to coordinate resource acquisition, land use, and garden monitoring. The end product will be a spatially-explicit restoration tool for land managers that will inform the appropriate selection of seed for particular restoration projects, as well as multiple research publications.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program