Factors influencing seed mix design for prairie restoration

Rebecca S. Barak*, Zhao Ma, Lars A. Brudvig, Kayri Havens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Decision-making is central to restoration practice, from the framing of objectives to the employment of tools and strategies. Yet, it remains largely unclear how decisions are made during restoration and this limits understanding of how restoration managers design and implement restoration projects and what restoration approaches may be most effective. This is true for tallgrass prairies in the Midwestern United States, which are commonly restored through seed sowing. To understand how managers make decisions during prairie restoration, we used a mixed-methods approach including interviews, a focus group, and an online survey, to ask managers about: restoration objectives, factors influencing seed mix design, tools and resources used in seed mix design, seeding methods, and monitoring. Respondents considered biodiversity the most important restoration objective, and the most important biodiversity measures were species richness and functional group diversity. Seed mix design was influenced by seed availability. We identified 141 taxa that managers would like to use in restoration, but cannot due to factors like cost, availability, or problems with germination or establishment. Managers most frequently used their own experience and consultation with other practitioners to guide seed mix design; and commonly used tools developed within their organization. Most managers agreed that monitoring was important for assessing restoration outcomes, but were unable to devote enough time to monitoring. These findings illustrate opportunities for partnerships, among restoration managers, and among managers, seed producers, and researchers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13581
JournalRestoration Ecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • biodiversity
  • decision-making
  • ecological restoration
  • grassland
  • seeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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