Innovative Restoration: Developing seed technologies for sagebrush steppe recovery

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Olga A. Kildisheva, Matthew Cahill, Andrew Olsen, Owen W. Baughman, Jessica Griffen, Magdalena Eshleman, Corinna Riginos, Kevin Badik, Jay Kerby, Kirk W. Davies, Stella M. Copeland, Roxanne Rios, Tony Svejcar, Chad S. Boyd

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The sagebrush steppe is one of the most ecologically imperiled ecosystems of North America. Historical destructive land use, exotic species invasion, and frequent, large-scale fires are contributing to rapid landscape‐level conversion from native perennial plant communities to highly degraded systems dominated by invasive annual grasses. Approximately half of the sagebrush steppe has already been lost, and this loss is continuing at a rapid rate. While seeding efforts to re-establish native plant communities have been ongoing for several decades, restoration failures can exceed 95% and germination and emergence are often the most critical phases in determining plant establishment success. Failures are due to a number of barriers, including competition from invasive annual grasses, freezing-induced mortality of newly emerged seedlings, drought, and many others. As part of the Sagebrush Sea Program (a 6-state, multi-organizational partnership, facilitated by The Nature Conservancy), our team is working with agency and industry partners to improve restoration outcomes through the development of seed technologies involving seed pelleting and coating. These seed technologies, designed to target key restoration barriers to plant establishment, may offer an opportunity to improve restoration outcomes across the sagebrush steppe and may be applicable across a range of ecosystems that rely on seed-based restoration. In this presentation we will demonstrate the application of a ‘precision restoration’ framework for seed technology development and share findings from prototype evaluations in both laboratory and field settings.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program