Nevada Dividends!

What Seeds to Plant in the Great Basin?


Issue:

Implementing successful restoration in the Great Basin is challenging, especially in the driest and more resource-limited areas. Agronomic suitability, site appropriateness, and restoration performance are important for selecting plant material of the highest quality and usefulness. The goal of this project is to provide information about the current state of wildland seedings in the Great Basin.

What has been done?

NAES scientists collected data on the frequency and amount of seeds used in recent seedings (2006-2009), focusing on post-fire rehabilitation projects, a major source of seeding in the Great Basin, which took place on public US Bureau of Land Management lands in Nevada over a four-year period. Next they presented information on traits highlighted in descriptions of most of the commercially available grass, forb, and shrub cultivars and other native plant releases commonly used as seed materials in the Great Basin, gathering data from plant release documents and plant brochures. Finally, they conducted a series of field and greenhouse experiments that were designed to discern which phenological and morphological traits increase perennial native grass performance in disturbed Great Basin systems, and summarized the fit between these results and current restoration practice.

Impact:

Maintaining diverse native plant communities in the Great Basin under continuing disturbances such as invasive species, changing climate and fire regimes, and shifts in grazing pressure is a challenge for land managers. Improvements to restoration through changes in seed source selection are relatively attainable.

Traits prioritized in commercially available cultivars and native seed material releases included, in order of frequency: forage quality and yield, seed yield, seedling vigor, ability to establish and persist, and drought tolerance, with many other traits mentioned with less frequency. Traits that had consistent support for improving native perennial grass performance in the field were related to early phenology, small size, and higher root allocation.

NAES range scientists have published their finding and made it available to both ARS and NRCS for future considerations of site appropriate seed. ARS’s in Logan, Utah is now looking at root allocation when considering seeding candidate plants.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Elizabeth Leger

Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Science

1664 N. Virginia Street

Reno, Nevada   89557

 

Phone: (775) 784-7582

Email: eleger@cabnr.unr.edu

Personal Web Site: https://naes.unr.edu/leger/