Overcoming limiting factors to seedling establishment: Physiological, morphological, spatial, and temporal tactics

Jeremiah Pinto

Publication Date:

Using nursery-produced seedlings for restoration helps achieve on-site objectives by increasing the trajectory of ecosystem services compared with natural regeneration. This function, however, is only possible with quality seedlings that are matched to the objectives with the appropriate morphology, physiology, and genetics. Within the nursery culture environment, it can be possible to express seedling traits that favor establishment on outplanting sites that have a myriad of limiting factors such as depleted soil moisture and competing vegetation. Simple morphological traits that include longer root systems or greater height are logical targets in such instances. One critical aspect to quality seedling attributes that is less understood, however, is how a seedling functions—its physiology. In a sense, morphological attributes are just proxies for physiological functioning. But how do you, or how can you, condition a seedling to “function” for a specific purpose? Nursery culture has the opportunity to lay the foundational building blocks—i.e. quality—on which seedlings rely on for establishment and growth. It stands to reason, that seedling physiological conditioning can offer gains in potentially limiting outplanting conditions. Unfortunately, the direct links from nursery culture to physiology on the outplanting site are not fully realized. Our research explores the intersection of building target seedlings by varying nursery culture to match outplanting conditions with a better understanding of morpho-physiological functioning.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration