This page will be updated periodically as the project progresses. The latest update was made December 12th, 2023.
Planting native plants is at the heart of ecosystem restoration work.
And the key to a successful project is choosing the right source for native seeds.
As the first link in the food chain, native plants create the foundation for thriving habitats that serve both wildlife and people. Native plants are specialized for the range they occupy. Individual plants are also adapted to the specific conditions of the place where they happen to be living.
Because of this, the restoration wisdom for a long time was “local is best”. Meaning, seeds collected close to where a project will happen will be the most successful.
Climate change is making it more difficult to choose where to collect seeds from.
The climate is changing faster than many plants can adapt to. This is having a big impact on their ability to thrive and provide ecosystem servicesEcosystem Services The benefits that the environment provides for human communities, such as food, filtering air and water, and decomposing waste.. The success of a restoration project depends on the ability of newly planted plants to mature and reproduce.
Given what we see and what leading research tells us, there is concern that many of the plants we have relied on for decades will not survive in our future climate. Because of this, it may be necessary to use seeds from places that better match our expected local climate.
The Climate Adapted Plant Materials (CAPM) Project is a long-term common garden experiment.
It aims to evaluate which plants might best tolerate the conditions we expect to see in several decades.
This involves strategically collecting seeds from many different areas, then growing all of them in the same location under the same conditions. Over time, we will get a sense of which plants can tolerate today’s environmental conditions as well as the conditions we predict will exist in 40 to 80 years from now.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Who is doing this project?
This project is a collaboration between Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District, Clean Water Services, and The Institute of Applied Ecology.
What are you collecting?
This project is collecting plant materials such as seeds and plant cuttings. These will be used to grow new plants in the study area in the Tualatin River watershed.
Where are the plant materials coming from?
We are collecting plant materials from four different areas. We are collecting local materials from the Tualatin River watershed. We are collecting from plants in southwest Oregon. We also collected seeds from coastal northern California, as well as from inland northern California.
How did you decide where to collect seeds from?
With assistance from researchers and subject matter experts, we used the Seedlot Selection Tool to identify places that currently have climatic conditions we expect our local area to have in the future. Click here to learn more about how we used this tool.
What plants are you growing?
We hope to study 24 species of trees and shrubs. Click here to see the list of plant species we are aiming to test.
Are you introducing non-native plants to the area?
All species are being tested in small scale experiments and are not planted outside of the study area. Most of the species we are studying are found in the Willamette Valley, with 2 exceptions. California black oak and Blackfruit dogwood are only found in Northern California and/or SW Oregon.
Are you concerned about transporting disease and pests from one location to another?
We are taking care to prevent the spread of plant health pathogensPathogens A bacteria, virus, or microorganism that causes disease. that can be transported by plant materials. With assistance from USDA and local experts, we have developed a multistep protocol to minimize the risk of spreading pathogens not currently known to be present here.
How long until you have results from this study?
This study requires patience as we wait for plants to grow from their seeds and cuttings. Some results will be available within a year of planting and other results might take decades or longer.
What will you be monitoring for?
The monitoring plan isn’t finalized yet but will draw from experience with other Pacific Northwest practitioners. Mortality, vigor, and reproductive capacity are just some of the measurements being considered.
- Tom Kaye’s Native Seed Conference Presentation : The Executive Director of the Institute of Applied Ecology introduces the challenges plants face with climate change as well as the concept of assisted migration.
- Unpacking Assisted Migration – Definitions and Ethics : This BEF webinar introduces the concept of assisted migration and explores important considerations
- Project presentation to local partners, March 2023 : Habitat Conservation Specialist, Mike Conroy, presents CAPM to local partners at Tualatin SWCD’s office in March 2023.
- March 2023 Presentation Deck : A PDF of the PowerPoint Mike used to present CAPM to local partners.
- Technical Memorandum produced by Stillwater Services : This technical report describes the botanical surveys of climate analog locations to determine which species to evaluate.