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Reproduction by seed in alpine plants and revegetation research above timberline



Reproduction by seed in alpine plants and revegetation research above timberline



Botanica Helvetica 96(1): 43-60



The paper deals with various aspects of reproduction by seed in plants inhabiting extreme ecosystems above timberline and their relevance to alpine revegetation research. Seeds represent a largely maternal investment; their production is environmentally controlled, either indirectly via resources the mother plant is supplied with or/and directly via meteorological conditions during seed formation. Seed dormancy in alpine plants may be innate, induced or enforced; the latter type, appearing at the end of growing season, may obscure the former mechanisms. Seed coat-influenced innate dormancy seems to be rather frequent in alpine plants the seeds of which often respond well to scarification. Establishment represents a further risk-exposed phase of life cycle in alpine plants and safe sites are of primary importance. The authors argue that safe sites not only are taxon-specific and habitat-specific but also ecosystem-specific, and propose a general concept of safe site above timberline. Differences between areas above and below timberline are emphasized. Alpine ecosystems have a low-nutrient budget but plants apparently are well-adapted to these conditions; a safe site in the alpine belt is therefore not expected to have an excessively nutrient-rich soil, other features apparently being more relevant. The safe site concept proposed by the authors is therefore valid for alpine plants only. The importance of alpine revegetation research focusing upon native plants of high altitudes as a potential material for biological erosion control in the Swiss Alps is stressed.

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Accession: 006315560

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