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Scott L. Jensen

Scott Jensen

Botanist

Address: 
735 North 500 East
Provo, UT 84606
Phone: 
801-356-5124
Contact Scott L. Jensen

Current Research

My work is focused on plant community restoration in the Great Basin through the development of native seed supplies. From utility corridors to mining and grazing to wildfire, disturbances in the Great Basin over the last decade impact on average about 1,000,000 acres annually necessitating reseeding on hundreds of thousands of acres. Federal policy changes implemented over a decade ago require, with exceptions, the use of native plant materials for restoration projects on the 95 million acres of federal lands in the Great Basin. The result is a huge demand for native plant materials. Private production of native grass cultivars and wild land collected native shrubs largely fills the volume requirement to meet the restoration need but lacks the diversity of sources restoration practitioners desire to return appropriately adapted and genetically diverse population to the landscape. The use of native forbs is woefully underrepresented in restoration seedings comprising just 5% by volume. My work focuses primarily on increasing the number and variety of native forbs available in the marketplace through valuing forb species for plant material potential, evaluating cultural practices for seed production, developing appropriate sources and transferring both stock seed and production knowledge to the private sector. Seeding technologies and species compatibility studies bring the work closer to understanding the complexities of plant community restoration.

Research Interests

I am interested in a broad range of ecological relationships. My work has focused on wildlife habitat, invasive species biology, plant materials, and restoration applications.

Past Research

The Abert squirrel: distribution and habitat utilization on La Sal Mountains, Utah.

Biology of squarrose knapweed (Centaurea virgata Lam. ssp. Oquarrosa (Willd.) Gugler) in west central Utah.

Why This Research is Important

The Nature Conservancy rated the Great Basin as one of the most important imperiled ecosystems in the nation. On large fire years millions of acres are consumed requiring hundreds of thousands of acres of reseeding. Exotic species encroachment is rapid and expansion of Pinyon / Juniper communities threatens adjacent native communities. Restoring these areas requires a broad array of plant materials. Policy switch in the recent decade resulted in a dramatic increase in the use of natives in reseeding efforts, however limited availability of native forbs and typical high cost preclude their use on a scale comparable to the impact.

Education

  • Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, M.S., Wildlife and Range Resources, 1998
  • Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, B.S., Wildlife and Range Resources, 1997
  • Professional Experience

    Botanist, USDA RMRS GSD
    2001 to present

    Native Plant Material Development.
    Wildlife Bilogist, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Great Basin Research Center, Ephraim, UT.
    1999 to 2001

    Biology of squarrose knapweed in west central utah.

    Awards

    2012 Celebrating Wildflowers/Botany Award, 2012
    Excellence in Botany Partnership Development
    Great Basin Native Plant Project Logo
    The Great Basin Native Plant Project seeks to increase the availability of genetically appropriate native plant materials and to provide the knowledge and technology required for their use in restoring diverse native plant communities across the Great Basin. This multi-state, collaborative research project was initiated in 2001 by the Plant Conservation Program of the BLM and the Grassland, Shrubland, and Desert Ecosystem Research Program of the Rocky Mountain Research Station.
    Rangeland drills to re-establish native plants
    Sagebrush ecosystems of the Great Basin are rapidly being converted to annual grasslands dominated by invasive weeds such as cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) which thrives following wildfire and competes with native plants. Restoring diverse plant communities containing perennial grasses, shrubs and forbs is an important priority in this region. Scientists in Boise have partnered with public and private agencies to evaluate the effectiveness of seeding techniques designed to re-establish native plants following fire.
    The cycle of annual weed invasion and wildfire has altered large expanses of western shrublands, disrupted ecosystem functioning, and increased wildfire size, intensity, and frequency.  These impacts are costly in terms of losses to native species and ecosystems, and also in risks to human life and property and wildfire-associated expenditures.  Post-fire rehabilitation provides an opportunity to stabilize and revegetate at-risk shrublands.
    This project studies the seedbed ecology requirements of native forbs, particularly the appropriate seeding depth in loam textured soils.
    In the effort to use genetically appropriate plant materials for restoration projects, provisional seed zones were developed as one method of pairing seed sources to restoration sites.  Provisional zones were developed through grouping similar climate parameters across broad geographic areas without regard to species specific performance or genetic information. As such, they function as a tool for identifying similar climate envelopes which may serve as an acceptable interim surrogate for species specific genecological work in pairing seed sources to restoration sites. 

    RMRS Science Program Areas: 
    Grassland, Shrubland and Desert Ecosystems