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Local adaptation and restoration of California native grasslands.
Hufford, Kristina *,1, Mazer, Susan1, 1 Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, Santa Barbara, CA
ABSTRACT- California prairies have been dramatically altered by the invasion of Old World grasses, which have displaced many native perennial grass species throughout the state. Restoration via seed introduction is critical to re-establish native species, but a new concern – the adaptation of plants and seeds to their site of origin – has raised the serious question of the suitability of long-distance transfers of seeds produced by native plants. We conducted reciprocal transplants of three native grass species in order to test the hypothesis that local genotypes will have higher fitness when grown at their home site. The presence of a home-site advantage suggested that at least two of the native grass species are adapted to local environmental conditions. Soil characters were analyzed at each site in a preliminary effort to examine the factors contributing to local adaptation of each species. These results are discussed in light of: 1) current research to examine the ecotypic differentiation of native grasses in central California and the nearby Channel Islands, and 2) future research to determine the consequences of mixing ecotypes during restoration of native grasslands.
Key words: restoration, grasses, ecotypes, adaptation