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Timing of seed germination correlated with temperature-based environmental conditions during seed development in conifers

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 December 2014

Yang Liu
Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, Faculty of Forestry, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada
Yousry A. El-Kassaby*
Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences, Faculty of Forestry, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z4, Canada
*Correspondence E-mail:


Ecological (climatic and geographic) variation in early life-history transitions is a vital determinant of the adaptive evolution of timing of seed germination. This study aimed to investigate the correlation between timing of seed germination and environmental conditions during seed development. We examined seed germination timing of 15 coniferous seed lots of lodgepole pine, ‘interior’ spruce and western hemlock collected from natural stands in British Columbia (BC), Canada, under manipulated [stratification, thermo-priming (15 or 20°C) and their combinations] and non-manipulated (control) conditions. Timing of seed germination showed strong and positive correlation with the temperature-based environmental condition during seed development. This pattern persisted across species and seed lots within species, substantiating the historic importance of environmental conditions during seed development and maturation to life-history traits. Moreover, the strategy of phenotypic plasticity affecting timing of seed germination was observed across the applied germination treatments. These results provide insight into the germination niche as affected by global warming, indicating that conifers' seed dormancy in BC (north of 54°N) tends to increase and the changes associated with early spring warm-up are expected to accelerate seedling emergence, as shortened winters would have a minimal effect on dormancy decay.

Research Papers
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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