Arid and semi-arid rangelands are important ecosystems that are consistently degraded through disturbances such as wildfires. After such disturbances, the invasion and dominance of annual grasses, like cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.), can lead to an overall loss of ecosystem productivity and an increase in fire frequency. To reduce weed dominance, native and introduced perennials species are typically be seeded in the fall. High mortality is seen from these seeded plant communities due to germinated seed being exposed to freezing, drought, fungal pathogens, and other biotic and abiotic stressors during winter months. We utilized wet-thermal accumulation models to first further validate the theory that germination from seeded plant populations occurs during periods of high environmental stress, and then to establish the practicality of abscisic acid seed coatings as a technology that could circumvent winter germination and mortality. In Chapter 1, we developed an excel workbook called Auto-Germ using Visual Basic for Applications, which allows users to estimate field germination timing based on wet-thermal accumulation models and field data. We then used Auto-Germ to model seed germination timing for 10 different species, across 6 years, and 10 Artemisia-steppe sites in the Great Basin of North America. We estimated that for the majority of the species analyzed, a mid to late-winter planting was required on average for the majority of the population to germinate in the spring. This planting time would be logistically difficult for many land managers, due to freezing and/or saturated soil conditions. In Chapter 2, we utilized wet-thermal accumulation models to evaluate the use of abscisic acid (ABA) to delay germination of Pseudoroegneria spicata (Pursh) Á. Löve (perennial native bunchgrass) across 4 years and 6 Artemisia-steppe sites. Germination models estimated that ABA seed treatments typically would delay germination of fall sown seed to late winter or early spring when conditions may be more favorable for plant establishment. Based on these results, we recommend both the use of wetthermal accumulation models as a tool in educating researchers and land managers in knowing when seeding practices should occur, and the further study of ABA seed coatings as a technology that may improve plant establishment of fall sown seeds.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Plant and Wildlife Sciences



Date Submitted


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germination rate, restoration, seeding, thermal time, wet-thermal accumulation model, seed enhancement technology, abscisic acid