Seed sourcing: a challenge for scaling up grassland restoration

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Török, Katalin, Katalin Szitár, Melinda Halassy, Anna Kövendi-Jakó, David Cevallos

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The conflict between maintaining evolutionary potential by genetic variation and using locally adapted genotypes of species is generating uncertainty during seed sourcing for restoration. In the lack of information about genetic diversity for most of the native species, fitness traits are used to estimate variability in local adaptation. In flagship countries seed transfer and propagation zones guide native seed markets. To scale up restoration, seed sourcing must be regulated along scientific evidence, and the market developed in other countries as well. We have tested the effect of geographical and ecological distance on seed traits (seed mass, chamber and outdoor germination) of four sand grassland species in the Pannonian ecoregion, Europe. Altogether 34 locations were sampled, scattered over app. 40.000 km2 (Fig.). Ecological distance between locations was estimated by climatic, hydrologic, topographic and edaphic patterns included in the potential natural vegetation model. The geometry for the delineation of regions was obtained from three biogeographical maps, resulting in seed transfer zones of separate ecological characteristics. Traits showed significant differences between sites, however, the differences did not correlate with geographical, nor with ecological distance in most of the cases. The results suggest that in the lack of pattern in variability, the transfer of sand grassland species cannot rely on zones. We assume that a compromise, to consider the whole sampled area as one zone, can balance between maintaining evolutionary potential and assuring the feasibility of restoration, without risking maladaptation. Further research on the genetic variability may provide the final proof.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program