Hydrothermal thresholds for seed germination in winter annual forbs from old-field Mediterranean landscapes - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew research repository
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Journal article

Hydrothermal thresholds for seed germination in winter annual forbs from old-field Mediterranean landscapes

2019

Abstract

Under Mediterranean climates with dry-hot summers and cool-wet winters, many forbs with potential for habitat restoration are winter annuals, but there is little information about their germination. We performed laboratory germination experiments on 13 ruderal dicots native to Andalusia (southern Spain). We measured the germination of recently harvested seeds from natural populations across nine temperature treatments (from 5 to 35 °C, constant and alternate); two storage periods; and eight water stress treatments (from 0 to −1.0 MPa). We then calculated the hydrothermal thresholds for seed germination. Final germination ranged from 0–100% and results were mixed in response to temperature. Base temperature was below 6 °C, optimal temperature was around 14 °C and the ceiling temperature around 23 °C. For five species, 10 months of storage improved total germination, indicating a dormancy-breaking effect, but the other species did not respond or had their germination reduced. All species were relatively tolerant to water stress, with base water potential ranging from −0.8 to −1.8 MPa. Our results suggest that hydrothermal germination thresholds, rather than physiological dormancy, are the main drivers of germination phenology in annual forbs from Mediterranean semi-dry environments. The variation in germination responses of these forb species differs from winter annual grasses, but their seeds are all suitable for being stored before restoration.

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