Germination strategies of two dominant Carex species in a swamp alder forest: implications for restoration
Germination strategy is an essential mechanism that determines plant survival in previously established populations or newly colonised sites. Carex is a group of species that has shown difficulties to germinate experimentally and also many of them failed in order to use in restoration projects. Our aim was to determine whether Carex elata and C. elongata that dominate in vegetation of Central European swamps differ in their germination strategy. We conducted germination experiments with stratified and unstratified seeds of both species to determine: 1) if they are able to germinate fresh, 2) if they exhibit a cyclic dormancy pattern, and 3) if they will germinate from a seed bank. We demonstrate fresh seed germination and no evidence of cyclic dormancy in either species. Stratification did not enhance final germination but it did accelerate germination. Seed bank seeds of both species germinate sparsely. We demonstrate that these coexisting Carex species differ with respect to final germination. The higher germination percentages of the fresh seeds compared to buried and seed bank seeds of both species probably reflect adaptation to fluctuating water-level conditions. In summary, these findings support a strategy of fresh germination in a highly-variable environment. Our study indicates that both C. elata and C. elongata are suitable for restoration projects. Successful establishment and revegetation with C. elongata may result simply from sowing fresh seeds. In contrast, seed sowing, combined with vegetatively produced seedling transplants is essential for the successful restoration of C. elata.
Key wordsburial experiment fresh germination sedges seed bank seed dormancy stratification
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