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Title: Seed traits and seed bank longevity of wet sclerophyll forest shrubs
Contributor(s): Campbell, Monica L (author); Clarke, Peter J (author); Keith, David A (author)
Publication Date: 2012
DOI: 10.1071/BT11261
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Abstract: In wet sclerophyll forests seedling recruitment either occurs after intermittent fire events or continuously during intervals between fires in gaps created by small-scale disturbances. The dormancy and dispersal characteristics of seeds will influence how plant species exploit these contrasting recruitment opportunities. For example, long-lived seed banks may be crucial for persistence of species that are unable to recruit during intervals between fires if the length of fire intervals exceeds the life span of standing plants (senescence risk). To better understand mechanisms of population persistence during prolonged absence of fire in montane wet sclerophyll forests, we studied seed bank dynamics in four understorey species. We chose two species thought to have fire event-driven recruitment, 'Banksia integrifolia' subsp. monticola (Proteaceae) and 'Goodia lotifolia' (Fabaceae), and two species that are thought to have canopy gap-phase recruitment, 'Trochocarpa laurina' (Ericaceae) and 'Tasmannia stipitata' (Winteraceae). We measured seed rain, seed bank density and used seeds buried in nylon mesh bags to estimate rates of seed decay in the soil over time. All species produced a substantial seed crop on an annual basis. The annual seed crop in three species ('G. lotifolia', 'T. stipitata' and 'T. laurina') was released in a dormant state and developed a persistent seed bank, while one species ('B. integrifolia') lacked dormancy and rapidly germinated under laboratory and field conditions. Seed bank characteristics of 'G. lotifolia' appear to promote episodic recruitment after large landscape-scale fires, those of 'B. integrifolia' appear to promote more continuous recruitment in response to smaller fires and other disturbances that avoid widespread mortality of established plants, while seed bank characteristics of 'T. stipitata' and 'T. laurina' may facilitate both episodic and continuous recruitment under respective types of disturbance. The four species appeared to have varied vulnerabilities and mechanisms for reducing immaturity risk and senescence risk to persistence of their populations under recurrent disturbance. Dormancy, seed bank longevity and seed rain are likely to be useful syndromes for predicting the response of wet sclerophyll forest understorey species to changed disturbance regimes.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Australian Journal of Botany, 60(2), p. 96-103
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Place of Publication: Collingwood, Australia
ISSN: 1444-9862
Field of Research (FOR): 060208 Terrestrial Ecology
060202 Community Ecology (excl Invasive Species Ecology)
050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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