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Seasonal variation in density and species richness of soil seed-banks in karst forests and degraded vegetation in central Yunnan, SW China

  • You-xin Shen (a1), Wen-yao Liu (a1), Min Cao (a1) and Yu-hui Li (a2)

Abstract

We studied seasonal variation in density and species richness of seeds in the 0–10 cm soil depth layer in primary, secondary and pine forests, and in shrubland and grassland in the Shilin Stone Forest Geographical Park, Yunnan, SW China. Soil samples were collected four times during the year at 3-month intervals. Seeds from 119 species were identified by germination tests in the soil samples. Density and species richness of seeds of herbaceous plants were greater than woody plants at all five sites throughout the year. Sampling time and site differences had significant effects on the mean number of species and on seed-bank density. Mean number of species per sample increased from February, reached the highest value in May, decreased to the lowest value in August and then increased in November. An exception was in the primary forest, where the highest number of species was found in February. Mean seed-bank density peaked in May at all five sites, and no significant differences were found between densities in February, November and August, except for the primary forest. The peak in seed-bank density in May might be due to dispersal of new seeds of spring-fruiting species, combined with persistence of seeds dispersed in previous years. This seasonal variation of individual species was due primarily to differences in species phenology rather than to differences between sites. Four seasonal seed-bank strategies were identified: two transient and two persistent. At all sites, similar numbers of seeds of herbaceous species were found between seasons, but the number of species of trees and shrubs decreased in August.

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*Correspondence Fax: 86-871-5160916 Email: yxshen@xtbg.ac.cn

References

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