Seeding Restorations: Evaluating seed viability to improve restoration outcomes
Most large-scale restoration projects are conducted using seed mixes. Knowledge of seed viability (ability of seeds to germinate) is important both in calculating seed required and evaluating establishment success of individual species or genotypes in a restored community. Methods of assessing seed viability differ some methods destroy the seeds, but are cheap, fast and easy, while others leave the seed unharmed (we think!) but use expensive equipment. Different groups use a mix of these techniques to evaluate seed viability, but little is known about how the methods compare to one another in terms of accurately estimating viability of native seed. In this series of lab experiments we will use multiple means of assessing seed viability in order to help evaluate native species and genotypes for use in restoration. Lab work will include x-ray analysis, chemical testing, germination trials in an incubator, and crush testing and comparison of these different methods. This project will hopefully include (depending on student interest and climate conditions) a week-long trip to conduct field research near Grand Junction, Colorado. The student will also work with mentors to analyze data and visualize results in the R software program. We anticipate that the student will work with mentors to prepare a short manuscript for submission to a scientific journal.