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Old 06-01-2009, 05:22 PM   #1
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Default Revegetation of Native Flora More Successful If Genetically Diverse Seed Added

“A common belief is that local native plants are the best source of seed for revegetation projects,” says Dr Linda Broadhurst from CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.

“It has been presumed that local seed is adapted to local conditions and therefore it would provide the best results for restoration projects.”

“However, the research shows that where vegetation loss is high and across large areas, ‘local’ seed sources are often small and isolated and can be severely inbred resulting in poor seed crops or low quality seed.”

“This can lead to germination failure and poor seedling growth.”

Revegetation Of Native Flora More Successful If Genetically Diverse Seed Added
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Old 06-01-2009, 06:56 PM   #2
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They are discussing broadscale restoration in a Country that has suffered soil and vegetation degradation from both agricultural land clearing and soil salinity. I would agree there to exist substantial benefits from genetic diversity for broadscale restoration in Australia.

On our continent, local genotype is preferable however we need to be open to alternate seed sourcing to avoid the pitfalls of over harvesting from remnant populations clinging to life. Repeatedly robbing from Peter to pay Paul will result in an even greater loss of genetic diversity. Nice article you found.
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Old 06-01-2009, 10:45 PM   #3
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On our continent, too, we have rare plants whose restoration requires going to considerable effort to avoid exactly the inbreeding depression effects dealt with in the study. The basic laws of genetics don't depend on an organism's continent of origin.

For example, in their breeding programs working toward restoring the American chestnut, both the American Chestnut Foundation and the American Chestnut Cooperators Association have gone far afield to include trees across the species entire native range. A century ago there were 3 billion chestnut trees constituting a quarter of the trees in a huge swath of the eastern forest. Today there are about 500 capable of bearing nuts.

And the beautiful pink Muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris, though historically native to New England, had only one occurrence left in New England, with only seven individuals, as of 2002. There are a few tiny occurrences in New Jersey, but for all practical purposes you'd need to go much further south to get seed for restoration. The only seed I find in commerce comes from the Gulf coast.

The lesson I take from this is that, in practice, the choice of local or more distant germplasm needs careful consideration on a species by species basis, and that simple generalizations like "Local sources are better than more distant sources" need intelligent qualification case by case.
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Old 06-01-2009, 11:23 PM   #4
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I did not use the word better, I used the word preferable. I will restate that I believe we need to be open to alternate seed sourcing.
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Old 06-02-2009, 01:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coriaceous View Post
intelligent qualification case by case.
How true. One size doesn't fit all. A bit of common sense and considering the immediate goal AND the big picture in any project is always a good thing.
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Old 06-02-2009, 03:14 PM   #6
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Clever using the American Chestnut as your example coriaceous. Accolades to you. Might I suggest Oikos' 'Timburr' to fill that vacated niche until we come up with a hybrid better capable of withstanding the blight?
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Old 06-02-2009, 03:22 PM   #7
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Curious about the chestnuts - what is blamed for their drop in numbers? Is it the spines that make them unattractive to property owners, or some kind of disease?
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Old 06-02-2009, 03:26 PM   #8
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Cryphonectria parasitica. An "accidental" introduction to the US in the early 1900's. It's a fungus. Probably from China... it's left us with nothing but stumps for the most part.
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Old 06-02-2009, 03:29 PM   #9
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Thanks. Was curious. Wouldn't want the spines in my back yard, but it's a beautiful nut, and what I'm seeing of the tree is nice too.
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
The lesson I take from this is that, in practice, the choice of local or more distant germplasm needs careful consideration on a species by species basis, and that simple generalizations like "Local sources are better than more distant sources" need intelligent qualification case by case.
The other lesson that's available here is that using rare exceptions is not a good method to formulate a general principle. The general principle of using local sources is widely accepted. The fact that exceptions exist does not negate the general principle.
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