Intra- and interspecific germination traits (2008-2010)

Intra- and interspecific germination traitsGermination and recruitment of species in the field depend on the local abiotic and biotic site conditions. However, seed germination may be influenced also by maternal effects, i.e., by the conditions where the seed has been developed. In alpine environments these effects were never investigated. With the ongoing climate change, the understanding of these processes will be crucial because a species will only be able to expand it’s distribution area if it easily adapts to new site conditions. Thus, the species and especially it’s seeds should have a high plasticity. The main question is, if alpine species are able to react easily to changing conditions or if they are adapted to certain environmental conditions.
We tested the germination behaviour of different species under controlled temperature and drought conditions in the growth chamber and compared it to the behaviour under different field conditions. Seeds from lowland species were compared to seeds from alpine environments. We suggested that pioneer species should have different germination strategies than early successional species. We also assumed that high altitude species’ germination differs from lowland species’ ones.

Research Questions

  • How does temperature and drought stress influence germination? Which are the optimal temperatures, which are the limits of germination?
  • Are there differences in the germination behaviour of lowland and high altitude species? Are differences related to seed mass?
  • Are there differences between pioneer and early successional species?
  • Does local adaptation of the seeds play an essential role?

Funding
Tiroler Wissenschaftsfonds (Project “Intra- and interspecific germination behaviour of alpine species” 2008 – 2010)
Aktion D. Swarovski, University of Innsbruck (Project “Effects of temperatures and drought stress on the germination of Poa alpina”  2008 - 2010)

Personnel involved
David Bösch
Valentin Huter
Erich Schwienbacher
Brigitta Erschbamer

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