Common, showy, and perennial species dominate a restoration species pool

Andrew D. Kaul, Michael Barash, Matthew A. Albrecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Native seed vendors are a primary source of germplasm for restoration projects; however, most plant species are not commercially available. Preferences in the types of species that vendors grow and sell may limit the similarity between reference communities and reconstructed ones established from seed mixes. We tested whether a restoration species pool shows preference for certain groups of species, focusing on the Ozark Highland Ecoregion (midcontinent United States). We identified the pool of 1,082 candidate herbaceous plant species appropriate for restoration projects on upland habitats in this region, and then surveyed nine regional seed vendors to assess their commercial availability. Commercially available species were more likely to be forbs over graminoids, perennials over annuals, and common species with larger ranges and moderate conservatism scores. Within forbs, taller species and those with longer bloom durations were favored. Species with affinity to open habitats (e.g. grassland) were more likely to be available from multiple vendors than those from woodlands and forests. Encouragingly, 454 (42%) of the species in this regional pool were available. However, this means that most species in the region are not likely to be included in seed mixes, unless they are hand-collected from remnant populations. This restoration pool favors common and showy species, which is consistent with previous studies showing these kinds of species tend to dominate seed mixes and restored plant communities. We identified 39 species that were not available from any of the vendors surveyed, which we recommend as candidates for expansion of the Ozark restoration species pool.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13969
JournalRestoration Ecology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • conservatism
  • functional traits
  • seed mix
  • seed producer
  • seed vendor


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