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Maintaining Resilient Dryland Ecosystems

Piles of seeds of different colors. Photo by N. Jacobi.

Strengthening the native seed supply chain

Native seed collection, production, and deployment are key steps in the supply chain for seed-based ecological restoration. Science-based best practices can help protect natural populations, conserve genetic diversity, and improve ecological outcomes.
A closeup of a seedling with roots on a white background.

Improving restoration success through a research and management partnership

Finding the best populations to use in restoration is a key part of project success. We present a case study of a partnership between scientists and restoration practitioners designed to select and screen local seed sources for large-scale restoration.
Beetles crawling out of a white bucket into a tree.

The scent of success: Beetle 'smells' can help protect the environment from weeds

Saltcedar (Tamarix spp.), an aggressively invasive Eurasian tree, is a dominant and widespread woody riparian species in the southwestern U.S. Biocontrol of saltcedar with the leaf beetle Diorhabda carinulata can be made more effective with semiochemicals (smells).

The Maintaining Resilient Dryland Ecosystems (MRDE) program investigates the biology, use, management, and restoration of grasses and shrublands. Scientists, professional technicians, and support staff with the MRDE Program develop and deliver scientific knowledge, technology and tools that will enable people to sustain and restore grasslands, shrublands, and deserts under increasing threats from expanding human-related uses, invasive species, changing disturbance patterns, and climate changes.

The National Grassland Council has prepared an audiovisual presentation about the history and value of our National Grasslands. MRDE Research Ecologist Jackie Ott, member of the National Grassland Council, helped to prepare the presentation which she narrates. The presentation takes 10 minutes and is a fascinating account of the homesteading period, 1930’s Dust Bowl, formation of the national grasslands, and their current multiple uses and contributions to the national economy. Nearly all of the 21 National Grasslands are within the territory covered by the Rocky Mountain Research Station, making research on the national grasslands an important RMRS niche. RMRS researchers including Jackie Ott, Research Ecologist Paulette Ford, Albuquerque, Research Ecologist Brice Hanberry, Rapid City, and Research Biologist Francis Kilkenny, Boise and members of his lab, as well as wildlife biologist Brian Dickerson, Rapid City and Biological Technician David Hawksworth, Albuquerque, conduct research on fire, invasive species, plant communities, plant genetics and wildlife on national grasslands. To view the audiovisual presentation, click here: America's Grasslands 

In 2001 MRDE and the Bureau of Land Management initiated the multi-state Great Basin Native Plant Project. Now with over 25 collaborators, the project continues to improve the availability of native plant materials and to provide the knowledge and technology required for their use in restoring diverse native plant communities across the Great Basin.

Members of the MRDE Program are located at seven laboratories in six states in the intermountain West (Provo, UT and Reno, NV), Rocky Mountains (Boise and Moscow, ID), northern Great Plains (Bozeman, MT and Rapid City, SD), and American Southwest (Albuquerque, NM).

Learn more about the MRDE Program in their research updates: