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Storing seeds for a rainy day -- or in this case, a fire
Date:5/31/2011

se researchers found that closed forest-floor cones had high germination capacity (over 80%), but this germination capacity dropped to 45% for cones that were partly open. Although canopy cones have a >90% germination capacity a year, on average, after cone maturation, germination capacity steeply declined after 15 years and dropped to 50% after 25 years.

"Closed resin-bounded cones typical of serotinous pines can maintain (up to about 10-15 years) viable seed on dead trees even if the cones are partly open and/or in the forest floor," Teste said, "but of course the germination capacity does slowly decline with time." This is the first study demonstrating that there is a viable forest-floor seed bank for a serotinous pine species.

The serotinous adaptation of lodgepole pines allows for the regeneration of forests decimated by fire, but may be a hindrance to forests destroyed by mountain pine beetles. Although seed in closed cones may be viable following a mountain pine beetle outbreak, it cannot contribute to forest regeneration unless it is released from the cone, a process that would generally be triggered by fire.

"We can only speculate that it is a potential source for future regeneration if a ground fire or site preparation resurfaces the cones," Teste stated regarding the forest-floor seed bank. Teste's future research may focus on the impact of fire after mountain pine beetle outbreaks, specifically whether fire can promote regeneration from buried cones.

"With novel disturbances emerges novel responses to maintain ecosystem stability," Teste said.


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Contact: Richard Hund
rhund@botany.org
314-577-9557
American Journal of Botany
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2

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