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Seed transfer from distant areas is nearly always required for restoration of burned rangelands. Guidelines for selecting seeds are typically informed by common garden experiments.

two scientists working in a sagebrush experimental plot
Two USGS scientists set up equipment to measure sagebrush in a common garden experiment in the Great Basin, Idaho


Common garden experiments grow plants from different locations and climates in the same space to look at differences in growth and survival. These experiments often assume growth and survival are a result of plant responses to the environment, but do not account for interactions between plants. Researchers used data from a big sagebrush experiment in Utah to evaluate the potential for interaction between plants and how these interactions could interfere with analyses. The authors discovered that much greater spacing than is typically used in common garden designs would be necessary to avoid unwanted interactions. Reconsidering the spacing of big sagebrush plants in common garden experiments could generate more accurate information on how different populations of sagebrush respond to a changing climate, and lead to better seed selection for restoration.  

Zaiats, A., Requena-Mullor, J.M., Germino, M.J., Forbey, J.S., Richardson, B.A., and Caughlin, T.T., 2022, Spatial models can improve the experimental design of field-based transplant gardens by preventing bias due to neighborhood crowding: Ecology and Evolution, v. 12, no. 12, e9630. 

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