RIWPS March 5 Annual Meeting featured Sefra Alexandra’s talk on Ecotypes, Ecoregions & Ecological Restoration. She underscored the pressing need to preserve the genetic diversity of native seed populations whether through seeds banks, which can supply seeds to recreate or amplify these populations in case of need, or other efforts to increase the availability of locally sourced seeds such as the Ecotype Project of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut (CT NOFAR) which she leads.
Under this project, organic farmers establish founders plots large enough to maintain the genetic diversity of plants grown directly from seeds of wild plants native to their ecoregion (Northeast Coastal Zone). Seeds from these founder plot plants are harvested and become the basis for future generations of plants.
As you know from the meeting, we are very excited about our new multi-year initiative, Reseeding Rhode Island. Our goal is to increase the availability of seeds and plants from our local wild plant populations. This initiative builds on the incredible work of the Rhody Native Initiative started by the Rhode Island Native Plant Survey in 2010. We have already started to work with a botanist to collect seeds. Our next phases will be to grow these seeds to plugs for founders plots and then to work with our founder plot partners to make the seeds and plants grown from these seeds available in the course of the next few years.
While we were not able to record the talk itself, we encourage you to explore the list of resources connected to the talk that Sefra Alexandra has sent us.
• In response to the question about genetic diversity in founder plots, see current research: “Seeding the Future: Evolutionary Perspective on Seed-Based Restoration” Data on genetic diversity of founder plots compared with wild populations. Unpublished: Please do not distribute widely. https://northwestern.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=29c885fb-88ce-4e9b-
• Links related to topics in the talk
- National Seed Strategy (BLM)
- Ecoregions (EPA) New England (Level III/IV)
- Native Plant Materials Use in Eastern US (MARSB)
- Special Issue: Standards for Native Seeds in Ecological Restoration
- International Network for Seed-based Restoration
For questions/staying involved with the formation of this network