Matching existing and future native plant materials to disturbance-driven restoration needs

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Assessing the appropriateness of existing native plant materials can both determine which seed source to utilize for restoration projects, and identify locations for which new seed sources need to be developed. Here, we demonstrate an approach to meet these needs. This method identifies areas of high restoration need based on disturbance patterns, assesses the regional suitability of existing native plant materials based on climate similarity, and highlights geographic (and climatic) gaps where existing materials are likely unsuitable and where plant material development projects can be prioritized. We examined 12 high priority restoration species across the Colorado Plateau, a 38-million-ha region of the Intermountain West, United States to test our methodological pipeline. Fifty-four percent of the Colorado Plateau is disturbed by livestock grazing, wildfires that have burned in the past 20 years, or energy production from oil and gas wells, natural gas pipelines, and coal mines. Of the 28 commercially available plant materials for six of the focal species, only 3 have climate similarity that encompass more than 50% of the species modeled habitat on the Colorado Plateau. Across all commercial materials, most species (10 of 12) do not have any suitable plant material for 70% or more of their geographic range on the Colorado Plateau. Of those areas identified as not having any suitable plant materials, 47–56% are also disturbed. Our method provides usable, flexible protocols and spatially referenced data sources for optimizing the planning of new native plant materials in any region where restoration is needed and spatial data are available.




Winkler, D. E., Sterner, S., Bradford, J. B., Pilmanis, A. M., & Massatti, R. (2024). Matching existing and future native plant materials to disturbance-driven restoration needs. Restoration Ecology, 32(4).

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