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Effects of waterlogging on seed germination of three Mediterranean oak species: Ecological implications

AuthorsPérez-Ramos, Ignacio Manuel ; Marañón, Teodoro
KeywordsQuercus canariensis
Q. pyrenaica
Q. suber
Root growth
Seed mass
Waterlogging tolerance
Issue Date2009
CitationAcata Oecologica 35(3): 422-428 (2009)
AbstractSoil water saturation during prolonged periods of time generates a negative impact on nearly all terrestrial plants. In Mediterranean woodlands, precipitation can be very abundant during the wet season, inducing temporary soil waterlogging, coinciding with the seed dispersal and germination time of many species. We investigated the effects of waterlogging on seed germination and early root growth of three coexisting oak species (Quercus canariensis, Q. suber and Q. pyrenaica), by completely flooding of seeds for various periods of time. The three oak species showed a certain level of tolerance to waterlogging, only being affected those seeds subjected for long periods of submersion (over 30 days). Waterlogging during prolonged periods of time decreased the probability of seed germination in the three oak species, lengthened the time to germination, and hampered root development in two of the studied species. The main differences between oak species occurred in terms of root growth (Q. canariensis being the less affected, and Q. suber the most); these differential responses could be related to a species rank of waterlogging tolerance. Thus inter-specific differences in germination responses to waterlogging could contribute to explain, at least partially, species habitat and distribution patterns across landscapes. Seed mass also played an important role on different aspects of germination, though its relative importance varied as function of species and waterlogging treatment. The tolerance to stress induced by waterlogging increased with seed mass, but only in the case of Q. canariensis.
Description7 pages, 2 figures, 3 tables, 49 referenceWe are grateful to Rafael Villar for his advice in the experimental design and for providing us Q. pyrenaica seeds, and Itziar R. Urbieta for facilitating meteorological and basal area data for oaks of Andalusia. We also thank to Fen, Adolfo, Coral and Miguel for laboratory assistance. This research is part of the Globimed (http://www.globimed.net) network in forest ecology.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actao.2009.01.007
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