Texas Native Seeds: Collecting for Habitat Management, Restoration

What is Texas Native Seeds?

Reseeding native plant species is one of the most common wildlife habitat improvement methods used by landowners and recommended by natural resource agencies. However, variable success rates and low species diversity of commercially available materials prevent utilization of this proven method in many areas of Texas. In response, a collaborative project called Texas Native Seeds (TNS) was established in 2011.

Helping Texas Native Seeds

The TNS project is focused on collecting, increasing, and commercializing ecotypic native seed sources that are needed to increase habitat restoration success rates. Funding is provided by a combination of sources, including primarily by a large research grant from the Texas Department of Transportation, augmented with support provided by private foundation grants, and by donations from landowners and contributions by the oil and gas industry. TNS is a collaborative project of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute’s South Texas Natives Project, Tarleton State University, Texas AgriLife Research’s North Texas Ecotype Project, and Borderlands Research Institute’s Trans-Pecos Plant Materials Initiative. In addition, the USDA NRCS Plant Materials Centers in Knox City and Kingsville provides invaluable facilities support and critical in-kind cooperation in all aspects of the project.

Project seed collectors are seeking the help of private landowners and natural resource managers to locate and gain access to native populations of the plants of interest for collection. Once granted access, workers will collect small amounts of seed by hand and record pertinent information such as the general location, county, and soil series. Our goal is to obtain 2 or more collections of each species, depending on distribution, from each county being served by the project. This collection process will insure that a broad population (geographically and genetically) will be available for evaluation and selection, and that the resulting seed releases will be suited for widespread use.

The timeline for seed collection starts in late spring and can stretch through fall depending on climatic conditions. Providing commercial sources of ecotypic native seed that can be obtained and used by private landowners and agencies to restore native habitat is the end goal of TNS.

Native Sees for Outreach

In addition to supporting project efforts through land access for collections, TNS is always on the hunt for educational and outreach opportunities regarding habitat improvement, wildlife and management. Over the past three years they have given more than 30 presentations about thier efforts and the importance of native plants and restoration to groups from the Texas Wildlife Association, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, NRCS and the Native Plant Society of Texas. These opportunities allow them to connect with enthusiastic landowners and conservation professionals, which in turn greatly enhances thier success in seed collection efforts. If they can help with a program you have coming up in 2015, please let them know!

Managing for wildlife and habitat