• A History of Plant Improvement by the USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory for Rehabilitation of Degraded Western U.S. Rangelands

      Staub, Jack; Chatterton, Jerry; Bushman, Shaun; Johnson, Douglas; Jones, Thomas; Larson, Steve; Robins, Joseph; Monaco, Thomas (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Climate change models for the western United States predict warmer winters in the Great Basin and hotter, drier summers in the Mojave Desert, increasing the already high rate of rangeland and pasture degradation, which in turn will increase annual grass invasion, escalate wildfire frequency, and reduce forage production. • These changes in western U.S. rangelands will continue to result in the emergence of novel ecosystems that will require different and/or improved plant materials for successful revegetation. • Traditional plant improvement of native and non-native rangeland plant species by the USDA, ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory (FRRL, Logan, Utah) has been accomplished through rigorous evaluation of seed collections followed by recurrent selection and hybridization of unique plant types within selected populations to identify plants with superior establishment and performance characteristics. After such plant types have been selected, they are further evaluated in multiple ecologically diverse locations to identify broadly adapted superior germplasm for public release. • Plant improvement of perennial grasses, legumes, and forbs by the FRRL has provided and will continue to deliver plant materials that support sustainable rangeland management efforts to service productive and functionally diverse rangelands.