The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released their 2023 “Assessment of Native Seeds Needs and the Capacity for Their Supply” final report, which highlights SBSC’s 5-year research plan to support the Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program (CPNPP).
SBSC’s restoration research featured in the 2023 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report details the challenges restoration practitioners face in obtaining seeds of native plants for restoring healthy ecosystems that create wildlife, rare species, and pollinator habitat; sequester carbon; and protect against future natural disasters.
The report identifies research as a critical need to increase the availability of seeds and identifies the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) as an important contributor in meeting research goals.
The USGS Southwest Biological Science Center (SBSC) has been meeting these science needs for more than a decade through partnerships with the Bureau of Land Management, for example with the Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program (CPNPP). The CPNPP is a collaborative partnership between the USGS, the Bureau of Land Management, other federal, state, and local agencies, NGOs, and tribal nations.
Through a variety of molecular genetic and field-based investigations, SBSC researchers provide guidance to land management agencies about what native plant seed sources may make suitable native plant materials for future, genetically appropriate restoration.
See Box 8-1 from the NASEM report below, as well as the SBSC news articles Incorporating Genetic Diversity into Restoration and Conservation Decision-making and Plant Genetics Informing Restoration in the West, to learn more about relevant research.
Two media outlets ran stories about the release of the NASEM report:
Reuters published an article on January 26, 2023, titled “U.S. native seed shortage hinders land restoration – report,” about the nationwide shortage of native seeds to restore natural habitats following wildfire and other disturbances, and NPR published an article on January 27, 2023, titled “We need native seeds in order to respond to climate change, but there aren’t enough,” which also underscores the need to increase native seed supply and storage for restoration.
From p. 70 of the report, with featured SBSC research shown in bold text:
"Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program: The Colorado Plateau lying at the intersection of Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, is an arid, challenging environment for plant restoration. The BLM established the Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program (CPNPP) in 2007 in partnership with the USFS, Northern Arizona University and state wildlife agencies in the region. In 2010, an interagency agreement established the USGS Southwest Biological Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, as the lead scientific agency for plant material research in the program. There are numerous partners involved in a wide range of activities in the program, including federal, state, and local government agencies; tribal nations; non-governmental conservation organizations; university researchers and curators; commercial plant materials industry (seed and seedling growers and sellers); and seed testing and certification entities. The lead scientific agency for plant materials research for the Colorado Plateau project is the US Geological Survey (USGS). As the science agency for the US Department of the Interior, the USGS scientists plays an active role in uncovering the interactions of plant genetics and biophysical aspects of ecological systems, in the context, for example, of the need to identify native plant materials for restoration in the dryland environment of the Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program (Massatti et al., 2022).”
Box 8-1. Southwest Biological Science Center research agenda for the Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program.
Read the report:
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2023, An Assessment of Native Seed Needs and the Capacity for Their Supply—Final Report: Washington, D.C., The National Academies Press, https://doi.org/10.17226/26618.
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