Dr. Jones develops new plant materials of native cool-season grasses for rangeland rehabilitiation and restoration in the InterMountain West. His educational background is in Botany, Crop Science, and Plant Breeding. He utilizes a multi-disciplinary approach to plant materials development that encompasses plant ecology, plant physiology, and seed biology. He affiliates with the Wildland Resources and Plants, Soils, and Climate departments at Utah State University.
Depending on the plant material, plant material development may entail wildland seed collection, evaluation for critical plant traits, and/or genetic improvement. Species are identified that are either economically important or potentially so and that have biological or technological constraints that limit their use. If the constraint may be addressed with a plant materials approach, the species is a candidate for plant material development. From 1992-2007 the project released or co-released 15 natural-track and manipulated-track pre-variety germplasms and cultivars of Indian ricegrass, big squirreltail, bluebunch wheatgrass, green needlegrass, bottlebrush squirreltail, and Snake River wheatgrass. These materials possess enhanced levels of performance in terms of seedling establishment and seed production. Work is also underway with basin wildrye, thickspike wheatgrass, salina wildrye, needle-and-thread, Thurber's needlegrass, and Idaho fescue. The project cooperates closely with the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service's Plant Materials Centers, the Utah Crop Improvement Association, and the seed industry. An Intermountain Native Plant Summit is organized periodically to bring together government, NGO, and commercial organizations and individuals involved in the development, delivery, and use of native plants for purposes of education and discussion of current issues involving their use. The Restoration Gene Pool concept has been developed as a decision-making framework for choosing appropriate plant materials for restoration projects.