Integrating seed traits into emerging technologies for biodiverse restoration
Climate change and other human-induced threats are accelerating native vegetation decline and ecological community transformation. Considering the challenges associated with native seed production and procurement, developing new, strategic seed-based approaches to increase seed rehabilitation success and seed use efficiency is crucial to restore such vegetation. Seed coatings represent a particularly promising advancement, however, due to technique development to date focussing largely on agricultural rather than restoration goals, there remains a lack of knowledge regarding their efficacy. By undertaking two glasshouse germination trials, I investigated the responses of seeds to their encapsulation within “Seed Pods” for drone-facilitated delivery as employed by industry partner AirSeed Technologies. Seedling emergence was quantified for 30 native species and its relationship to seed mass and dormancy type was investigated. It was also determined whether seeds positioned nearer the Pod periphery, relative to the centre, facilitated increased emergence for smaller-seeded species. Although peripheral seed position improved germination outcomes, the current Pod recipe may be incompatible with some seed types as evidenced by poor emergence of the majority of species trialled. As such, it is suggested that the composition and design of Seed Pods be refined and customised for different species to account for nuanced seed biological needs.