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Predicting the impact of increasing temperatures on seed germination among populations of Western Australian Banksia (Proteaceae)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 May 2014

Anne Cochrane*
Affiliation:
Evolution, Ecology and Genetics, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia Science and Conservation Division, Department of Parks and Wildlife, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, Western Australia 6983, Australia
Gemma L. Hoyle
Affiliation:
Evolution, Ecology and Genetics, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
Colin J. Yates
Affiliation:
Science and Conservation Division, Department of Parks and Wildlife, Locked Bag 104, Bentley Delivery Centre, Western Australia 6983, Australia
Jeff Wood
Affiliation:
Statistical Consulting Unit, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
Adrienne B. Nicotra
Affiliation:
Evolution, Ecology and Genetics, Research School of Biology, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia
*
*Correspondence E-mail: anne.cochrane@dpaw.wa.gov.au

Abstract

Temperature is a significant factor influencing seed germination and for many species temperature-mediated germination cues are vital for plant persistence. Rising temperatures forecast as a result of anthropogenic climate change may have a substantial influence on the population and range dynamics of plant species. Here, we report on the thermal constraints on seed germination in natural populations of four congeneric Banksia species collected from a longitudinal climate gradient in Western Australia. We investigated whether germination niche: (1) varied between species; (2) varied among populations of each species; and (3) varied in a consistent manner reflecting the climatic gradients of seed origin. We hypothesized that species would differ and that populations from warmer sites would have a broader temperature window for germination than populations from cooler sites. Species differed in the breadth of their germination niche, but temperatures that stimulated the most rapid and complete germination were similar across all species. A sharp reduction in germination percentage occurred above the optimum temperature, which coincided with significant delays in germination relative to the optimum. The temperatures causing these declines varied among populations. Across the species, there was a significant correlation between optimum germination temperature and mean annual temperature at seed source; however, there was no relationship at the population level for individual species. These data provide insight into the vulnerability of Banksia species to climate change, with those populations that require lower temperatures for germination, or have narrower optimal ranges for germination, likely to be most vulnerable to a warming climate.

Type
Research Papers
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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