Gather ye seeds while ye may
As part of the Bureau of Land Management‘s Seeds of Success project, The Dixon National Tallgrass Prairie Seed Bank at the Chicago Botanic Garden is preserving the seeds of thousands of prairie species–1,500 by 2010 and 3,000 by 2020–that are native to the Midwest, as far west as the Rockies. The seeds will be preserved for future use and used in research for assisted migration, a controversial technique to relocate species in anticipation of global changes in climate and habitat. In addition to collecting a diversity of species, mapping GPS coordinates and documenting soil composition, part of this research includes predicting relocation habitats, a process that has begun in seven climate-change gardens where species from four hardiness zones (zones 4,5,6, and 7) have been planted this fall. A story in The New York Times about the project interviews Kayri Havens, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s director of plant science and conservation:
“If plants grown from seed collected in Zone 4, 5 or 6 can’t withstand Texas conditions,” Dr. Havens said, “that’s a good sign they’re going to become extinct here, if there’s no way for them to migrate on their own or human-assisted.”
Scientists hope that assisted migration research will aid future restoration projects. The mother project, Seeds of Success, has so far collected over a fifth of its hoped-for 14,000 native U.S. species, sending a collection of each species to the Millennium Seed Bank Project of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in Britain, which contains the largest seed collection in the world, housed in frozen underground vaults, with the goal of collecting 25% of the world’s flora by 2020.
(via The New York Times)
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