Medium 9781780641836

Seeds: The Ecology of Regeneration in Plant Communities, 3rd Edition

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The 3rd edition of Seeds: The Ecology of Regeneration in Plant Communities highlights the many advances in the field of seed ecology and its relationship to plant community dynamics that have taken place in recent years. The new edition also features chapters on seed development and morphology, seed chemical ecology, implications of climate change on regeneration by seed, and the functional role of seed banks in agricultural and natural ecosystems. The book is aimed at advanced level students and researchers in the fields of seed science, seed ecology and plant ecology.

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11 Chapters

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1 Overview of Seed Development, Anatomy and Morphology

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Overview of Seed Development,

Anatomy and Morphology

Elwira Sliwinska1* and J. Derek Bewley2

Department of Plant Genetics, Physiology and Biotechnology, University of

Technology and Life Sciences, Bydgoszcz, Poland; 2Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

1

Introduction

The spermatophytes, comprised of the gymnosperms and angiosperms, are plants that produce seeds that contain the next generation as the embryo. Seeds can be produced sexually or asexually; the former mode guarantees genetic diversity of a population, whereas the latter (apomictic or vegetative reproduction) results in clones of genetic uniformity. Sexually produced seeds are the result of fertilization, and the embryo develops containing, or is surrounded by, a food store and a protective cover (Black et al., 2006). Asexual reproduction is probably important for the establishment of colonizing plants in new regions.

Seeds of different species have evolved to vary enormously in their structural and anatomical complexity and size (the weight of a seed varies from 0.003 mg for orchids to over 20 kg for the double coconut palm

 

2 Fruits and Frugivory

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Fruits and Frugivory

Pedro Jordano*

Integrative Ecology Group, Estación Biológica de Doñana,

CSIC-EBD, Sevilla, Spain

Introduction

The pulp of fleshy fruits, with the soft, edible, nutritive tissues surrounding the seeds, is a primary food resource for many frugivorous animals, notably mammals and birds, but also reptiles and fish, which are able to obtain energy and nutrients from it

(Howe, 1986). These animals either regurgitate, defecate, spit out or otherwise drop undamaged seeds away from the parent plants; they are the seed dispersers that establish a dynamic link between the fruiting plant and the seed/seedling bank in natural communities. Therefore, frugivory is a central process in plant populations where natural regeneration is strongly dependent upon animal-mediated seed dispersal.

Early conceptual contributions to the study of frugivory emphasized dichotomies in frugivory patterns and fruit characteristics that presumably had been originated by co-evolved interactions (Snow, 1971;

 

3 The Ecology of Seed Dispersal

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The Ecology of Seed Dispersal

Anna Traveset,1* Ruben Heleno2 and Manuel Nogales3

Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies (CSIC-UIB), Terrestrial Ecology

Group, Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain; 2Centre for Functional Ecology

(CEF-UC), Department of Life Sciences, University of Coimbra, Coimbra,

Portugal; 3Island Ecology and Evolution Research Group (CSIC-IPNA),

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

1

Introduction

Seed dispersal is one of the key phases in the regeneration process of plant populations. It determines the potential area of recruitment and, simultaneously, acts as a template for the subsequent stages of plant growth. Seed dispersal is the most common means for plants to colonize new areas and to avoid sibling competition and natural enemies such as herbivores or pathogens. Seeds can be dispersed by wind, water, gravity and by a wide assemblage of animals (including those that consume fruits and/or seeds as well as those that move seeds via their fur, plumage or feet). By directly dispersing seeds to favourable recruitment sites (Wenny and Levey, 1998) or by virtue of the treatment offered to ingested seeds (Verdú and Traveset, 2004; Traveset et al., 2007), animals actually play an important role as seed dispersers for most (60–80%) plant species

 

4 Seed Predators and Plant Population Dynamics

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Seed Predators and Plant

Population Dynamics

Michael J. Crawley*

Department of Biology, Imperial College London,

Ascot, Berkshire, UK

Introduction

The enormous seed production of most plants, coupled with the general paucity of seedlings and saplings, is vivid testimony to the intensity of seed mortality. The degree to which this mortality results from seed predation (the consumption and killing of seeds by granivorous animals) is the subject of the present review (for earlier references, see Crawley, 2000). To people who are unfamiliar with Darwinist thinking, it appears obvious that seed mortality is so high, because ‘plants need only to leave one surviving offspring in a lifetime’. In fact, of course, every individual plant is struggling to ensure that its own offspring make up as big a fraction as possible of the plants in the next generation, and for each individual plant there is a huge evolutionary gain to be achieved by leaving more surviving seedlings, i.e. more copies of its genes, in the next generation. The mass mortality of seeds is part of natural selection in action, and the group selectionist argument that plants only need to replace themselves is simply wrong. Since the numbers of seeds produced are so large, it only takes a small percentage change in seed mortality to make

 

5 Light-mediated Germination

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Light-mediated Germination

Thijs L. Pons*

Department of Plant Ecophysiology, Institute of Environmental

Biology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands

Introduction

The light response of seeds can control the time and place of germination of a seed, a crucial factor in the survival of the resulting seedlings, and the growth and fitness in subsequent developmental stages. The ultimate effect of light on seeds depends on genotype, and on environmental factors during ripening of the seeds, during dormancy and during germination itself. These environmental factors may include light, or factors other than light such as soil temperatures and soil chemical factors (see Chapter 6 of this volume). The picture is further complicated by the fact that the light climate itself has various aspects that have different effects on seeds, such as irradiance, spectral composition and duration of exposure of the seeds. All the above-mentioned factors can interact in one way or another in their effect on seeds. Moreover, the factors are not constant in time and are difficult to characterize at the seed’s position in the soil, thus complicating further the analysis of what is actually happening with a seed in a natural situation and the interpretation of a possible ecological significance of light responses.

 

6 The Chemical Environment in the Soil Seed Bank

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The Chemical Environment in the Soil Seed Bank

Henk W.M. Hilhorst*

Wageningen Seed Lab, Laboratory of Plant Physiology,

Wageningen University, Wageningen, the Netherlands

Introduction

Soil is the natural physical and chemical environment of most seeds. Essentially, soil is a three-phase system consisting of solids, liquids and gases in varying proportions. In most soils the solids are predominantly mineral, derived from rock materials. Minerals are defined as solid, inorganic, naturally occurring substances with a definite chemical formula and general structure. It is evident that minerals may only affect seed behaviour when they are solubilized by water that penetrates the soil. In this respect the soil pH is an important factor. The soil matrix may also contain more readily dissolvable solutes, for example salts in saline environments. Direct chemical effects of rock-derived minerals on germination of seeds in the soil seed bank are unknown.

Solubilized minerals may inhibit germination non-specifically when they occur in high concentrations in soils. Also the effects of high salinity can be either osmotic or toxic. Soil may also contain organic matter.

 

7 Seed Dormancy

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Seed Dormancy

Alistair J. Murdoch*

School of Agriculture, Policy and Development,

University of Reading, Reading, Berkshire, UK

Introduction

Defining and Measuring Dormancy

The regeneration of plant communities from seed depends on seeds being in the right physiological state to germinate in the right place at the right time. In some species, this requirement is satisfied by a regeneration strategy in which seeds germinate as soon as they are shed. In others, seeds may survive for long periods in the soil seed bank with intermittent germination of a part of the population.

There are two basic physiological prerequisites for seeds to survive in soil: viability must be maintained for as long as germination is avoided by dormancy or quiescence.

Moreover, for such seeds to contribute to regeneration, dormancy must be relieved and germination promoted perhaps within a limited period when there is a good chance of successful seedling establishment. In explaining how different regeneration strategies can result from varying physiology, the approach adopted in this chapter in considering dormancy is to examine how this adaptive trait influences the responses of seed populations to environmental factors, so ensuring that at least some individuals germinate in the right place and at the right time.

 

8 The Chemical Ecology of Seed Persistence in Soil Seed Banks

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The Chemical Ecology of Seed

Persistence in Soil Seed Banks

Robert S. Gallagher,1* Mark B. Burnham2 and E. Patrick Fuerst3

Independent Agricultural Consultant, Clinton, South Carolina, USA;

2

Department of Biology, West Virginia University, Morgantown,

West Virginia, USA; 3Department of Crop and Soil Science,

Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, USA

1

Introduction

The endogenous chemical regulation of seed persistence in the soil seed bank is often assumed to occur by many seed and plant ecologists, but the subject receives only sparse direct coverage in the scientific literature. Priestly (1986) reviewed the experimental evidence to that date for seed persistence in the soil, but gives little mention to potential chemical regulators of that persistence. Baskin and Baskin (1998) provide a very comprehensive review of seed dormancy and germination, but their discussion of chemical regulators of seed dormancy is largely limited to plant hormones as germination inhibitors. Shirley (1998) reviewed the role of flavonoids in seeds, outlining their potential role in preventing pathogen infection, reducing lipid peroxidation (i.e. antioxidant activity) and promoting seed dormancy, but focused primarily on seeds of agronomic crops. Based on the insight from Shirley (1998), Gallagher and

 

9 Effects of Climate Change on Regeneration by Seeds

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Effects of Climate Change on Regeneration by Seeds

Rui Zhang1* and Kristen L. Granger2

Harvard Forest, Harvard University, Petersham, Massachusetts, USA;

2

Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, The Pennsylvania

State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA

1

Introduction

Climate change has been shown to influence many aspects of species’ life histories

(Pounds et al., 1999; Hughes, 2000; Walther et al., 2002). Compared to the well-studied literature of how climate change affects performance of adult plants, relatively few studies have focused on the responses of seeds and seedlings, the shifts in their abundance and distributions, and changes in population dynamics and regenerations that are connected by these early life stages.

As iterated in other chapters of this book, seeds play a critical role in plant regeneration. Furthermore, early life stages are expected to be more sensitive to climate change than adult stages (Lloret et al., 2004;

Walck et al., 2011), and therefore impacts of climate change on regeneration are likely to have consequences at the population and community levels. In this chapter, we review both lab and field investigations on seed and seedling responses to climate change. There is a rich literature on how environmental factors regulate seed biology

 

10 The Functional Role of the Soil Seed Bank in Agricultural Ecosystems

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The Functional Role of the Soil Seed

Bank in Agricultural Ecosystems

Nathalie Colbach*

INRA, UMR1347 Agroécologie, EcolDur, Dijon, France

Introduction

In many countries with temperate climate, landscapes are highly anthropized, and arable crops constitute the major part of these landscapes. In these habitats, weeds consisting of both ‘real’ wild species and volunteers originating from lost crop seeds constitute the main component of wild plant biodiversity. Cropped fields differ from natural habitats by frequent disturbances (e.g. tillage, herbicides, harvest) and the presence of one

(or sometimes two) dominant plant species

(i.e. the crop) that usually changes every year. Though these disturbances can appear as stochastic and unpredictable from the weed’s point of view, they result from the farmer’s operational logic, and many of them specifically aim at controlling weeds because the latter are very harmful for agricultural production (Oerke et al., 1994). In this chapter, I propose to focus on the importance of the soil seed bank for plant regeneration in this particular habitat, to identify the relevant biophysical processes interacting with agricultural practices, and, finally, to determine what kind of weed species and traits are selected in different cropping systems.

 

11 The Functional Role of Soil Seed Banks in Natural Communities

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The Functional Role of Soil

Seed Banks in Natural Communities

1

Arne Saatkamp,1* Peter Poschlod2 and D. Lawrence Venable3

Institut Méditerranéen de Biodiversité et d’Ecologie (IMBE UMR CNRS 7263),

Université d’Aix-Marseille, Marseille, France; 2LS Biologie VIII,

Universität Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany; 3Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA

Introduction

When I was a child, playing in the meadows and woods, I (A.S.) was fascinated by all the seedlings coming out of seemingly lifeless soil where the ponds dried out, a new river bank was exposed or a mole built its hill.

Beggarticks (Bidens tripartita) quickly covered the former pond; the river bank turned blue with forget-me-nots (Myosotis pratensis); and molehills were crowned with stitchwort (Stellaria media). It was a difficult experience when my parents had me weed out our overgrown vegetable garden where lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) from the seed bank grew faster than the radishes we had sown. I learned, however, to distinguish the few Calendula seedlings and to keep some flowers for my mother.

 

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