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Should I pick that? A scoring tool to prioritize and valuate native wild seed for restoration

Rantala‐Sykes, Brittany, Campbell, Daniel
Restoration ecology 2019 v.27 no.1 pp. 9-14
cleaning, habitats, highlands, indigenous species, land restoration, planning, prices, provenance, seed collecting, seed longevity, seed quality, viability
Commercial sources of native seed are often unavailable for ecological restoration projects or do not have a suitable provenance. Local collection of wild seed is an option, but it can be challenging to collect seed for a variety of species and set fair seed prices. Our aim was to quantify the relative effort to collect, clean, store, and propagate seed to better prioritize species and assess the value of their seed. For 57 species native to the Canadian subarctic and typical of upland habitats, we evaluated 13 poorly correlated attributes in the field and lab or using the literature. For collection attributes, regional occurrence, local abundance, seed collection rate, and collection window were normally or log‐normally distributed. Most species were easy to identify and posed few collection obstacles. Cleaning effort was evenly distributed across species and the majority could be cleaned to more than 95% purity. We only encountered orthodox seed and most species had seed longevity exceeding a year. Seed viability mostly exceeded 80%, pre‐treatment requirements were evenly distributed and the majority of species could be germinated under standard conditions. We propose a standard worksheet, in which we assign relative effort scores to the distribution of each attribute. We illustrate this approach for the revegetation planning of a remote mine site. We also propose a seed lot certificate to ensure high seed quality. This tool can be applied to various restoration applications to assess relative effort, to plan and prioritize species for restoration projects and to help set fair seed pricing.