New Zones Delineate Seed Source Regions


Eastern seed zones_Pike2020Plant seeds are the crucial starting point for innumerable conservation projects, from backyard butterfly gardens to large reforestation projects. For the USDA Forest Service and its many partners, seeds and seedlings are needed in large numbers for forest restoration and land management work. The Eastern Seed Zone Forum (ESZF) is a network of US Forest Service scientists and university partners that works with stakeholders across the eastern U.S. to provide new tools for sourcing seeds for restoration projects, forest management, and other uses. The ESZF has produced a new seed-collection zone map, and the process used to create it was recently published in the Journal of Forestry. Co-authors include a team of Forest Service and university geneticists and botanists, including Kevin Potter, a North Carolina State University scientist and Eastern Threat Center collaborator. The ESZF has also made a draft version of the map available to the public. The map lets users identify the seed collection zone for individual counties of interest. One of the most promising applications of the new zones is the ability to source seeds appropriately for expected future climate conditions. Assisted migration is a strategy to help conservation and restoration projects succeed by using seeds adapted to expected future climate at the project location. This may mean using a combination of seeds from the local seed-collection zone and from other zones with appropriate climate profiles. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: The Eastern Seed Zone Forum developed 245 seed-collection zones for 37 states in the Eastern US. Seed collectors and nurseries can use the new zones to describe the origin of plant seeds and seedlings. USFS map image.


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