Identifying priority species for grassland restoration – a conceptual framework illustrated for south Brazilian subtropical grasslands

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Gerhard Overback

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Seed limitation has been recognized as a general restriction for restoration of tropical and subtropical grasslands, making seed introduction necessary for recovery of these systems. This contrasts with reality: at current, seeds of native grassland species are practically unavailable in most regions, which impedes the upscaling of restoration efforts. A first step towards the establishment of seed production and distribution infrastructure is the definition of priority species for restoration. Using species-rich subtropical grasslands in southern Brazil as a case study, we here present a framework for the definition of priority species. Starting with regional species pools of different grassland regions, we apply several filters based on biological characteristics of the species and relevance for specific restoration objectives in distinct settings, for example in privately owned grazed grassland and in ungrazed grassland in protected areas. Data bases for this are published studies on vegetation in well-conserved and degraded areas, species distribution data, trait data, and information on forage value of grassland species. This allows us to identify from a species pool of more than 900, a manageable number of species that are of particular relevance for restoration in the different grassland regions and for which research on propagation and establishment is now a second step. The explicit inclusion of criteria related to grassland productivity helps to increase stakeholder participation into restoration projects. Systematic approaches such as ours are fundamental to create a sound scientific basis for the challenging restoration aims in tropical and subtropical regions.

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Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

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Society for Ecological Restoration