Germination requirements and seed mass of slow- and fast-colonizing temperate forest herbs along a latitudinal gradient
Graae, Bente J × Verheyen, Kris Kolb, Annette Van der Veken, Sebastiaan Heinken, Thilo Chabrerie, Olivier Diekmann, Martin Valtinat, Karin Zindel, Renate Karlsson, Elisabeth Strom, Lotta Decocq, Guillaume Hermy, Martin Baskin, Carol C #
Ecoscience vol:16 issue:2 pages:248-257
Predictions on displacement of suitable habitats due to climate change suggest that plant species with poor colonization ability may be unable to move fast enough to match forecasted climate-induced changes in habitat distribution. However, studies on early Holocene plant migration show fast migration of many plant species that are poor colonizers today We hypothesize that warmer temperatures during the early Holocene yielded higher seed quality, contributing to explaining the fast migration. We studied how the 3 seed quality variables, seed mass, germinability, and requirements for break of seed dormancy, vary for seeds of 11 forest herb species with varying colonization capacity collected along a 1400-km latitudinal gradient. Within species, seed mass showed a positive correlation with latitude, whereas germinability was more positively correlated with temperature (growing degree hours obtained at time of seed collection). Only slow-colonizing species increased germinability with temperature, whereas only fast-colonizing species increased germinability with latitude. These interactions were only detectable when analyzing germinability of the seeds, even though this trait and seed mass were correlated. The requirement for dormancy break did not correlate with latitude or temperature. The results indicate that seed development of slow colonizers may be favoured by a warmer climate, which in turn may be important for their migration capacity.