Thesis: Improving the Outcomes of Seed-based Restoration in Cold and Hot Deserts: An Investigation into Seed Dormancy, Germination, and Seed Enhancement
Climate change, intensive land management, and industrial-scale disturbances such as mining have led to the degradation of up to 20% of arid and semi-arid systems globally. Due to the value of arid ecosystems and the high rate of continued disturbance there is now an unprecedented demand for the ecological restoration of these systems. Degradation signifies substantial biotic and abiotic site alterations, the reversal of which relies on the use of direct seeding in an attempt to re-establish biodiverse, self-sustaining plant communities. Despite the substantial investment in dryland restoration in both Australia and the United States, re-instatement of plant communities via the use of seed is hampered by low in situ germination and plant establishment rates as well as a high demand for large quantities of scarce, wild-sourced seed. In light of the growing anthropogenic pressure on arid systems, the development and implementation of cost-effective, scalable restoration approaches are essential.
This project is designed to address specific knowledge gaps in seed-based restoration, encompassing a comparison of the cold deserts of the Great Basin Ecoregion of North America and the hot, semi-arid Pilbara Bioregion of Western Australia. Specifically, the proposed series of studies will: (1) Research seed dormancy types. (2) Investigate dormancy alleviation approaches for a broad spectrum of species required for restoration, including the first systematic investigation of these seed traits among Great Basin flora. (3) Examine seed enhancement technologies, such as seed pelleting and coating, to optimize germination timing and post-germination plant establishment in both systems.
Why my research is important
This work is needed in order to improve the success and efficiency of large-scale restoration efforts and reduce the current pressure of native systems to supply wild seed for restoration.