Generalized provisional seed zones for native plants

Deploying well-adapted and ecologically appropriate plant materials is a core component of successful restoration projects. We have developed generalized provisional seed zones that can be applied to any plant species in the United States to help guide seed movement. These seed zones are based on the intersection of high-resolution climatic data for winter minimum temperature and aridity (as measured by annual heat : moisture index), each classified into discrete bands. This results in the delineation of 64 provisional seed zones for the continental United States. These zones represent areas of relative climatic similarity, and movement of seed within these zones should help to minimize maladaptation. Superimposing Omernik’s level III ecoregions over these seed zones distinguishes areas that are similar climatically yet different ecologically. A quantitative comparison of provisional seed zones with level III ecoregions and provisional seed zones within ecoregions for three species showed that provisional seed zone within ecoregion often explained the greatest proportion of variation in a suite of traits potentially related to plant fitness. These provisional seed zones can be considered a starting point for guidelines for seed transfer, and should be utilized in conjunction with appropriate species-specific information as well as local knowledge of microsite differences.