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Seed Mass, Viability, and Germination of Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) under Variable Light and Moisture Conditions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Cynthia D. Huebner
Northern Research Station, U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, 180 Canfield St., Morgantown, WV 26505
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The success of Japanese stiltgrass as an invader may be due to its ability to respond to stochastic events (e.g., by sexual reproduction via chasmogamous [CH] flowers) and to maintain a beneficial genetic make-up (e.g., by self-fertilizing via cleistogamous [CL] flowers) when conditions are stable. This paper evaluates the importance of Japanese stiltgrass seed type (chasmogamous seeds, cleistogamous seeds, and seeds originating from forest-interior [F-I] plants) in terms of seed mass, viability, and germination across variable moisture regimes (three regions in West Virginia) and at two light levels (roadside and forest interior). Seeds from nine populations were sampled in three site types in 2005 and 2008 and stored at 5 C until testing in April 2009. Seeds were tested for viability using a dye test. Seeds were germinated under both constant and fluctuating day/night temperatures. Additional samples of CH and CL seeds collected in 2008 were tested for viability again in September 2010 for a measure of seed longevity. CL and F-I seeds were smaller in mass than CH seeds. Seeds from the drier sites were smaller in mass than seeds from the more mesic sites. CL seeds, followed by F-I seeds, were less viable than CH seeds in 2005 and 2008. CL and F-I seeds had lower germination rates than CH seeds for each site type in 2005, but germination rates of the seed types did not differ in 2008. Differences in seed longevity for 2008 seeds were lower for CL compared to CH seeds, but only in the drier sites. Japanese stiltgrass' longer-lived and larger CH seeds from the roadsides may ensure population survival over the long term. Younger CL and F-I seeds differ less from CH seeds in terms of germination than older seeds, which may help Japanese stiltgrass to maintain populations under relatively stable conditions in the short term.

Copyright © Weed Science Society of America 

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Seed Mass, Viability, and Germination of Japanese Stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum) under Variable Light and Moisture Conditions
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