The persistent soil seed bank (viable seeds >1 year) and standing vegetation were investigated in the upper alpine belt (3250 m) in the Andes of central Chile, 33° S. Nine species (eight in standing vegetation) were found in a total persistent seed bank of 899 seeds m−2. Seven additional species were represented by physically intact, non-viable seeds. Over 90% of the persistent seed bank was concentrated in Montiopsis sericea (Portulacaceae), Pozoa coriacea (Umbelliferae), Phacelia secunda (Hydrophyllaceae) and Oxalis compacta (Oxalidaceae). Examination of the seed/cover ratio revealed different propensities for persistent seed bank formation among species, and annuals formed persistent seed banks more frequently than perennial species. Abundance in the standing vegetation had predictive value for abundance in the persistent seed bank only when non-persistent seed bank species in the standing vegetation were discarded from the analysis. At the local scale, species diversity in the persistent seed bank and standing vegetation were correlated, but compositional similarity was low. Secondary down-slope dispersal promoted by frost heaving in combination with runoff, and life-form correlates are discussed as possible factors accounting for poor correspondence between the persistent seed bank and the standing vegetation at a local scale. The high Andean seed bank is similar to or larger than that reported for two Arctic tundra sites, but smaller than for a northern hemisphere subalpine site. If seed bank size is considered in relation to plant cover, the Andean seed bank greatly exceeds that of one Arctic site. Our study constitutes the first demonstration of a sizable persistent seed bank at an alpine site in the South American Andes and in southern hemisphere temperate mountains in general.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Received: 26 May 1998 / Accepted: 21 November 1998
About this article
Cite this article
Kalin Arroyo, M., Cavieres, L., Castor, C. et al. Persistent soil seed bank and standing vegetation at a high alpine site in the central Chilean Andes. Oecologia 119, 126–132 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004420050768
- Key words Alpine zone
- Seed bank
- Standing vegetation