Which provenance and where? Seed sourcing strategies for revegetation in a changing environment

Abstract

Revegetation is one practical application of science that should ideally aim to combine ecology with evolution to maximise biodiversity and ecosystem outcomes. The strict use of locally sourced seed in revegetation programs is widespread and is based on the expectation that populations are locally adapted. This practice does not fully integrate two global drivers of ecosystem change and biodiversity loss: habitat fragmentation and climate change. Here, we suggest amendments to existing strategies combined with a review of alternative seed-sourcing strategies that propose to mitigate against these drivers. We present a provenancing selection guide based on confidence surrounding climate change distribution modelling and data on population genetic and/or environmental differences between populations. Revegetation practices will benefit from greater integration of current scientific developments and establishment of more long-term experiments is key to improving the long-term success. The rapid growth in carbon and biodiversity markets creates a favourable economic climate to achieve these outcomes.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by Australian Research Council Linkage project (LP110200805) and South Australian Premier’s Science and Research Fund awarded to AJL, NCCARF Travel Grants awarded to MFB, and the Native Vegetation Council of South Australia (grant 09/10/27), Nature Foundation SA Inc., Australian Geographic Society, Biological Society of South Australia, Field Naturalist Society of South Australia, Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia awarded to MFB, MGG, KMO and AJL. The authors would like to thank the Editors and two anonymous reviewers whose suggestions greatly improved this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Andrew J. Lowe.

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Breed, M.F., Stead, M.G., Ottewell, K.M. et al. Which provenance and where? Seed sourcing strategies for revegetation in a changing environment. Conserv Genet 14, 1–10 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-012-0425-z

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Habitat fragmentation
  • Inbreeding
  • Local adaptation
  • Outbreeding depression
  • Plant genetic resources
  • Revegetation