Practical Seed Source Selection for Restoration Projects in an Urban Setting: Tallgrass Prairie, Serpentine Barrens, and Coastal Habitat Examples

by Danny J. Gustafson1, Angela C. Halfacre2, and
Roger C. Anderson3

1Department of Biology, The Citadel, Charleston, South Carolina 29409

2Department of Political Science, College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina 29242

3Department of Biological Sciences, Illinois State University, Campus Box 4120, Normal, Illinois 61709


Anthropogenic activities have dramatically altered native plant communities through both habitat reduction and habitat fragmentation. Awareness of these changes has lead to an increased interest in restoring extirpated populations and augmenting remnant communities in urban, suburban, and agricultural landscapes. Ecological restoration frequently requires seeds of component species, and the choice of local, nonlocal, and cultivar seed sources could affect the success of a restoration project. In this article, we describe restoration projects conducted in tallgrass prairie, eastern serpentine barrens, and coastal South Carolina to illustrate practical advice on seed-source selection. We advocate the use of locally collected seed if available, but we acknowledge that nonlocal sources from similar ecological settings (via ecological matching), geographically local sources from different habitats, or unrestricted seed sources may be appropriate depending on the goals of the specific restoration project.

Key words: restoration ecology, local ecotype, Muhlenbergia sericea, sweetgrass, Gullah, community participation, tallgrass prairie, eastern serpentine barrens, coastal habitat