Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 January 2017
Seed persistence is poorly quantified for invasive plants of subtropical and tropical environments and Lantana camara, one of the world's worst weeds, is no exception. We investigated germination, seedling emergence, and seed survival of two lantana biotypes (Pink and pink-edged red [PER]) in southeastern Queensland, Australia. Controlled experiments were undertaken in 2002 and repeated in 2004, with treatments comprising two differing environmental regimes (irrigated and natural rainfall) and sowing depths (0 and 2 cm). Seed survival and seedling emergence were significantly affected by all factors (time, biotype, environment, sowing depth, and cohort) (P < 0.001). Seed dormancy varied with treatment (environment, sowing depth, biotype, and cohort) (P < 0.001), but declined rapidly after 6 mo. Significant differential responses by the two biotypes to sowing depth and environment were detected for both seed survival and seedling emergence (P < 0.001). Seed mass was consistently lower in the PER biotype at the population level (P < 0.001), but this variation did not adequately explain the differential responses. Moreover, under natural rainfall the magnitude of the biotype effect was unlikely to result in ecologically significant differences. Seed survival after 36 mo under natural rainfall ranged from 6.8 to 21.3%. Best fit regression analysis of the decline in seed survival over time yielded a five-parameter exponential decay model with a lower asymptote approaching −0.38 (% seed survival = [(55 − (−0.38)) · e (k · t)] + −0.38; R2 = 88.5%; 9 df). Environmental conditions and burial affected the slope parameter or k value significantly (P < 0.01). Seed survival projections from the model were greatest for buried seeds under natural rainfall (11 yr) and least under irrigation (3 yr). Experimental data and model projections suggest that lantana has a persistent seed bank and this should be considered in management programs, particularly those aimed at eradication.