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From what depth do seeds emerge? A soil seed bank experiment with Mediterranean grassland species

  • Juan Traba (a1), Francisco M. Azcárate (a1) and Begoña Peco (a1)

Abstract

Seed germination and emergence are influenced by the position of seeds in the soil bank profile. Mediterranean grasslands are heavily dependent on seed banks, as these systems are mainly composed of annual species. Seed bank germination experiments in a greenhouse were conducted to analyse the role played by burial depth on seed bank dynamics in annual Mediterranean grasslands. Specifically, they addressed two objectives: (1) to assess the ability of seeds in the shallow layer of the soil bank to emerge when they are buried at different depths, and (2) to ascertain the ability of seeds from deep layers to germinate and emerge to the surface. The study also produced a depth profile of species and seeds. The results show that: (1) all species (100%) and the majority of viable seeds (98.9%) are situated in the first centimetre, with a significant fall in the number of species and seeds in the soil bank as depth increases; (2) for the majority of species (92%) and seeds (85.4%) in the shallow bank, the emergence percentage declines significantly with burial depth; and (3) seeds that are present in deep layers need to rise to the surface in order to produce seedlings. In conclusion, the function of the seed bank in Mediterranean grasslands depends on the number of species and seeds in it, but also on the seed position in the profile and vertical movements that enable them to reach the surface.

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Corresponding author

*Correspondence Fax: +34 1?397?8001, Email:, juan.traba@uam.es

References

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From what depth do seeds emerge? A soil seed bank experiment with Mediterranean grassland species

  • Juan Traba (a1), Francisco M. Azcárate (a1) and Begoña Peco (a1)

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