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Seed menus: An integrated decision-support framework for native plant restoration in the Mojave Desert

April 12, 2022

The combination of ecosystem stressors, rapid climate change, and increasing landscape-scale development has necessitated active restoration across large tracts of disturbed habitats in the arid southwestern United States. In this context, programmatic directives such as the National Seed Strategy for Rehabilitation and Restoration have increasingly emphasized improved restoration practices that promote resilient, diverse plant communities and enhance native seed reserves. While decision-support tools have been implemented to support genetic diversity by guiding seed transfer decisions based on patterns in local adaptation, less emphasis has been placed on identifying priority seed mixes composed of native species assemblages. Well-designed seed mixes can provide foundational ecosystem services including resilience to disturbance, resistance to invasive species, plant canopy structure to facilitate natural seedling recruitment, and habitat to support wildlife and pollinator communities. Drawing from a newly developed dataset of species distribution models for priority native plant taxa in the Mojave Desert, we created a novel decision support tool by pairing spatial predictions of species habitat with a database of key species traits including life history, flowering characteristics, pollinator relationships, and propagation methods. This publicly available web application, Mojave Seed Menus, helps restoration practitioners generate customized seed mixes for native plant restoration in the Mojave Desert while emphasizing key species traits. Our application forms an essential part of an integrated Mojave Desert restoration program designed to help practitioners identify species to include in local seed mixes and nursery stock development while accounting for local adaptation by identifying appropriate seed sources within key restoration species.

Publication Year 2022
Title Seed menus: An integrated decision-support framework for native plant restoration in the Mojave Desert
DOI 10.1002/ece3.8805
Authors Daniel F. Shryock, Lesley A. DeFalco, Todd C. Esque
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecology and Evolution
Index ID 70232526
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center