The benefits of seed banking for red maple (Acer rubrum): Maximizing seedling recruitment
Seed banking is assumed to be unimportant for temperate trees, because their seeds are short-lived in soils. However, even short-term seed banking could increase recruitment and affect population dynamics of seed-banking trees. To investigate this possibility, we examined early life-history stages of red maple (Acer rubrum L.), an abundant seed-banking tree in eastern forests. We found that seed banking benefits red maple by increasing germination when seedling survival is likely. Most red maple seeds germinate soon after spring dispersal, when seedling survival is high, or postpone germination to the following growing season, once seedling survival becomes less likely late in the summer. This occurs because seed dormancy increases during the growing season, matching a concurrent decrease in seedling survival. Our results and those of other studies suggest seed dormancy is increased by the same environmental factors (low light and low moisture) that also decrease seedling survival. We speculate that early life-history traits, including seed banking, may have contributed to this species' increased abundance in eastern deciduous forests in the last century. © 2005 NRC Canada.
Hille Ris Lambers, J; Clark, JS
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