Conservation Seed Laboratory and Seed Bank

Research Team

Kim Norton Taylor

Conservation Research Botanist

Texas is home to 448 rare vascular plant species, including 113 species categorized as Critically Imperiled (G1) and at high risk for extinction. For many of these species only a handful of individual plants remain in the wild. These plants are faced with increasing levels of threats, with population growth and the resulting development, land use changes, invasive species, and now climate change all threatening to push our rarest species closer to extinction. While conservation of a species within its natural habitat is the ultimate goal for plant conservationists, this approach is not always possible. Seed collections serve as a powerful tool in preventing extinction by serving as a genetic backup that can be used to repopulate a lost population.

A seed bank is a powerful tool for conserving plants. Seeds serve as source material for research on rare species, but more importantly, they serve as a source for reintroductions into appropriate and well managed habitats. Seeds stored in a conservation seed bank can provide a source to repopulate lost populations and prevent a plant from becoming extinct.