Germination and soil seed bank traits of Podocarpus angustifolius (Podocarpaceae): an endemic tree species from Cuban rain forests

Ferrandis, Pablo; Bonilla, Marta; Osorio, Licet del Carmen
September 2011
Revista de Biología Tropical;sep2011, Vol. 59 Issue 3, p1061
Podocarpus angustifolius is an endangered recalcitrant-seeded small tree, endemic to mountain rain forests in the central and Pinar del Río regions in Cuba. In this study, the germination patterns of P. angustifolius seeds were evaluated and the nature of the soil seed bank was determined. Using a weighted two-factor design, we analyzed the combined germination response to seed source (i.e. freshly matured seeds directly collected from trees versus seeds extracted from soil samples) and pretreatment (i.e. seed water-immersion for 48h at room temperature). Germination was delayed for four weeks (≈30 days) in all cases, regardless of both factors analyzed. Moreover, nine additional days were necessary to achieve high germination values (in the case of fresh, pretreated seeds). These results overall may indicate the existence of a non-deep simple morphophysiological dormancy in P. angustifolius seeds. The water-immersion significantly enhanced seed germination, probably as a result of the hydration of recalcitrant seeds. Although germination of seeds extracted from soil samples was low, probably due to aging and pathogen effects throughout the time of burial, the study revealed the existence of a persistent soil seed bank (at least short-termed) of ≈42 viable seeds per m2 in the upper 10cm of soil. Such a record is noteworthy since references to persistent soil seed banks in recalcitrant-seeded species are scarce in the literature. The population consequences derived from the formation of persistent soil seed banks in this endangered species are discussed. Rev. Biol. Trop. 59 (3): 1061-1069. Epub 2011 September 01.


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