Effect of phylogeny, life history and habitat correlates on seed germination of 69 arid and semi-arid zone species from northwest China

Ju Hong Wang, Carol C. Baskin, Xian Liang Cui, Guo Zhen Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations

Abstract

We tested the effects of phylogeny, life history and habitat conditions for seedling establishment on seed germination of 69 arid/semi-arid zone species from northwest China. Final germination percentages had a bimodal distribution, whereas, days to first germination were skewed toward short periods. Stepwise multi-way ANOVAs showed that the amount of variance in final germination percentage among species for seeds incubated in light was explained by phylogeny (13.6%), dispersal mode (11.9%), seed mass (3.6%), and habitat (0.2%); in darkness by dispersal mode (17.5%), phylogeny (12.7%), seed mass (5.7%), and habitat (0%). A series of ANOVAs revealed that the variance in final germination percentages among species is largely dependent upon phylogeny and dispersal mode but that it is also influenced by seed mass and habitat. The effects of dispersal mode and seed mass on final germination percentage among species were phylogenetic group- and habitat-specific. Wind-dispersed seeds had higher germination percentages than unassisted and vertebrate-dispersed seeds. Compared to xerophytes, mesophytes tended to have smaller seed mass, higher mean germination percentages and a greater effect of seed mass on final germination fractions. Our results suggest that phylogeny and life history should be taken into account in studies on the role of natural selection in regulation of seed germination.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)827-846
Number of pages20
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Volume23
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments We thank Per Milberg for his proposal on the original manuscript and Jerry M. Baskin for his precious comments on the manuscript. We also thank Wen Chen and Wei Chen for collecting seeds and XueLin Chen and Wei Qi for identifying the species. Finally, we thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. The study was supported by the Nature Science Foundation of China (No. 30470307).

Keywords

  • Habitat
  • Phylogeny
  • Seed dispersal mode
  • Seed germination
  • Seed mass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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