Growing through change: what current literature tells us about sourcing seed for restoration in the age of climate change

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Rebecca Barak, Anna Braum, Stephanie Frischie, Izabella Redlinski, Cassi Saari, Pati Vitt

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North American grasslands have been widely converted to human use, and many that remain are degraded and fragmented. A key goal of many restoration projects is a diverse, native plant community. In grassland restoration projects, seed addition is a common technique to meet this goal. The availability of appropriate seed, in terms of species, provenance, and quantity, is a limiting factor for many projects. Anthropogenic climate change further complicates restoration decision-making, as land managers assess which seed sources will be adapted to future conditions and contribute to the resilience of restored sites. Land managers are aware of this complex issue, but the peer-reviewed literature is extensive and often inaccessible. Our objective was to conduct a review and synthesis of the current state of the science around seed sourcing for climate resilience, with the hope that this information would bring needed guidance to restoration practitioners, and would alert seed suppliers and researchers about gaps in native plant materials supply and research. To this end, we searched Web of Science for articles using keywords related to seed sourcing and climate change. Nine searches yielded 2442 unique articles, 120 of which were returned in three or more searches. Abstracts of these 120 articles were reviewed to determine: the life history characteristics of focal species; geographic region and study type – experimental, provenance trials, review, etc.; response variable(s); and relevance to ecological restoration. Of 78 studies that specifically addressed provenance of plant materials, 79% of these focused on woody/tree species with a strong economic value, rather than herbaceous species. Most publications focused on North American or European species or habitats. We will present a synthesis of the relevant literature, including its accessibility, and discuss how this pertains to restoration research and practice in North American grasslands.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program