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The effect of light and number of diurnal temperature fluctuations on germination of Phragmites australis

  • B. Ekstam (a1), R. Johannesson (a2) and P. Milberg (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 February 2007

Seed germination of the wetland emergent perennial Phragmites australis is stimulated by diurnally fluctuating temperatures. A germination experiment in darkness and light at different temperature regimes showed that P. australis germinated as well in darkness as in light over most of the temperature regimes tested. The germination requirements could partly explain why this species, despite a large annual production of small seeds, does not accumulate a persistent soil seed bank. A second experiment examined the effect of one to four diurnal temperature cycles with amplitude of fluctuations ranging from 0 to 30°C; diurnal mean temperature of 15°C. Germination in the absence of fluctuations was low, and logistic model estimates showed a positive effect of number of temperature cycles which was strongly influenced by amplitude size. For seeds that have fallen on moist ground during the winter, these laboratory results predict that a few large diurnal temperature fluctuations could be sufficient for onset of germination in the subsequently warmer spring period. Seeds that are located under water, however, are predicted to remain ungerminated until the water level falls. Hence, we suggest that the requirement for fluctuating temperature, in addition to being a sensor for ‘exposed’ seed sites, is also effectively acting as a germination timing mechanism.

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