Seed germination of coastal monsoon vine forest species in the Northern Territory, Australia, and contrasts with evergreen rainforest

Vidushi Thusithana, Sean M. Bellairs, Christine S. Bach

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Abstract

Seed germination traits of seasonal rainforest species differ from permanently moist evergreen rainforest species due to the prolonged seasonal drought. We investigated whether seed germination traits used to categorise evergreen rainforest species into pioneer and climax guilds were applicable to seasonal rainforest species. Seed dormancy, light requirements for germination and seed storage types of five climax and thirteen pioneer species of a coastal vine thicket were studied. Results were compared with published studies of evergreen rainforest species. Evergreen rainforest pioneer species are typically dormant, require light to germinate and tolerate desiccation, whereas climax species are typically non-dormant, tolerate shade during germination and are sensitive to desiccation. In seasonal rainforest we found that a high proportion of pioneer species had seeds that were non-dormant (62%), and a high proportion of pioneer species germinated equally well in light and dark conditions. In seasonal rainforest, we found that the majority of climax species had desiccation tolerant seeds, whereas in evergreen rainforest the proportion of climax species producing desiccation sensitive seeds is equal to or greater than the proportion of species with desiccation tolerant seeds. In seasonal rainforest species physical, physiological and epicotyl dormancy types were found. Generally, for seasonal rainforest species, the prevalent form of dormancy in pioneer species was physical dormancy whereas physiological dormancy was most common in evergreen rainforest pioneer species with dormancy. Our results suggest that the contrasting seed biology traits that typically apply to pioneer and climax species of evergreen rainforest species don’t typically apply to seasonal rainforest species.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)218-229
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Journal of Botany
Volume66
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

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