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Matching seed to site by climate similarity: techniques to prioritize plant materials development and use in restoration

March 15, 2017

Land management agencies are increasing the use of native plant materials for vegetation treatments to restore ecosystem function and maintain natural ecological integrity. This shift toward the use of natives has highlighted a need to increase the diversity of materials available. A key problem is agreeing on how many, and which, new accessions should be developed. Here we describe new methods that address this problem. Our methods use climate data to calculate a climate similarity index between two points in a defined extent. This index can be used to predict relative performance of available accessions at a target site. In addition, the index can be used in combination with standard cluster analysis algorithms to quantify and maximize climate coverage (mean climate similarity), given a modeled range extent and a specified number of accessions. We demonstrate the utility of this latter feature by applying it to the extents of 11 western North American species with proven or potential use in restoration. First, a species-specific seed transfer map can be readily generated for a species by predicting performance for accessions currently available; this map can be readily updated to accommodate new accessions. Next, the increase in climate coverage achieved by adding successive accessions can be explored, yielding information that managers can use to balance ecological and economic considerations in determining how many accessions to develop. This approach identifies sampling sites, referred to as climate centers, which contribute unique, complementary, climate coverage to accessions on hand, thus providing explicit sampling guidance for both germplasm preservation and research. We examine how these and other features of our approach add to existing methods used to guide plant materials development and use. Finally, we discuss how these new methods provide a framework that could be used to coordinate native plant materials development, evaluation, and use across agencies, regions, and research groups.

Publication Year 2017
Title Matching seed to site by climate similarity: techniques to prioritize plant materials development and use in restoration
DOI 10.1002/eap.1505
Authors Kyle Doherty, Bradley J. Butterfield, Troy E. Wood
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Applications
Index ID 70189771
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center