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Buried viable seed in a ponderosa pine pinus ponderosa community

Buried viable seed in a ponderosa pine pinus ponderosa community

Canadian Journal of Botany 62(1): 44-52

The seed bank of a P. ponderosa, Symphoricarpos albus stand in east-central Washington [USA] was examined with respect to species composition, depth distribution and germination responses to heat and shade treatments. Seeds of 57 spp. were present in the seed bank to a depth of 10 cm. Twenty-one of these species were not found in the aboveground vegetation of the study area. Estimated viable seed densities in spring and autumn collections were 13,052 .+-. 1481 and 14,463 .+-. 1356 seeds m-2, respectively. Stellaria media and Poa pratensis, both alien species, accounted for 50% of the buried viable seed. Seed density was highest in litter samples. Total seed density decreased with soil depth, although seeds of some pioneer species were more abundant in the mineral soil than in the litter. Species dominating the seed bank were generally unimportant in the aboveground vegetation. Woody species, which dominated the aboveground vegetation, accounted for only 1% of the seed bank. Annual forbs dominated the seed bank (45% of total buried viable seed) but were not dominant in the vegetation. Seeds of several species survived prestratification heat treatments. Poststratification heat treatments inhibited germination or destroyed seed of nearly all species. As shading increased, germination of most species decreased. However, shade did not inhibit germination of species characteristic of mature successional stages.

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