It is important that seed and herbarium collecting is complemented by further research to help discover possible longer-term conservation options for different species. The knowledge can then be shared to support improved conservation outcomes and restoration programs. The group conducts field and lab-based studies. SSBH plays a key role in discovering and updating distribution of native plants of the UAE. Much of this research underpins conservation initiatives. Testing germination and viability of seed accessions and understanding of seed storage behavior of species is fundamental to seedbanks. Our main research focuses on understanding the seed biology of desert plants, which is associated with seed development, dormancy, germination and updating distributional patterns of the species. Thus, much of the research work encompasses the broad themes of seed biology, and particularly how changes to environmental factors can impact upon life-history traits and populations.
The current research at the SSBH address:
- Seed germination requirements and seed dormancy;
- Effects of different environmental stresses on seed germination and identifying cues that overcome dormancy and promote germination;
- Seed heteromorphy and micromorphology;
- Effects of storage and maturation time on germination and seed dormancy;
- Spatial analysis of genetic diversity as a tool for plant conservation;
- Species delineation through DNA analysis.
Among others, such studies would increase our understanding of the germination behaviour and adaptive strategy of particular plant species to inhabit harsh deserts conditions of the region. The new lab facilities at the SSBH will lead to closer collaboration between the botanical communities and protected area authorities in the region for biodiversity conservation and scientific research. In future, the research will also focus on developing a screening procedure to determine the impact of climate change on seed germination of selected species, and combining morphology and genetic distance to determine species delimitation.