Persistent soil seed banks and floristic diversity in Fagus orientalis forest communities in the Hyrcanian vegetation region of Iran

Omid Esmailzadeh, Seyed Mohsen Hosseini, Masoud Tabari, Carol C. Baskin, Hamed Asadi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


We assessed the size of seed bank, species diversity and similarity between seed bank and standing vegetation in four oriental beech (Fagus orientalis Lipsky) community types of the central Hyrcanian forests of northern Iran. For this purpose a total of 52 relevés was established in two associations and two subassociations of the beech forests, and six soil samples (20×20cm square and to a depth of 10cm) were collected in each relevé in mid-spring, after the germination season had ended. Soil seed bank was investigated using the seedling emergence method. A total of 63 species, 57 genera and 36 families was represented in the persistent soil seed bank of the forest communities. The seed bank contained 28 species not found as adult plants in the vegetation, but these were mostly early successional species. Size of the seed bank ranged from 3740 to 4676 individuals m-2 in the Rusco hyrcani-Fagetum orientalis and Danae racemosae-Fagetum orientalis associations, respectively. Species composition of seed banks and aboveground vegetation had low similarity with an average of 24.3% in the four plant communities, because only 38% of the species were the same in the vegetation and the seed banks. Most seeds in the seed bank were from early successional species, and the only tree with a large persistent seed bank was the fast-growing pioneer Alnus subcordata. DCA ordination also demonstrated low similarity between soil seed bank and vegetation. The soil seed banks of the four beech communities did not differ significantly in size, composition, diversity and uniformity. Although above ground vegetation in the four community types is floristically distinct, there is considerable overlap among the soil seed banks because they contain in a similar way early successional species. Further, the absence of typical forest species in the soil seed bank indicates that restoration of forest tree species cannot rely on the soil seed bank.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-372
Number of pages8
JournalFlora: Morphology, Distribution, Functional Ecology of Plants
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Fagus orientalis
  • Habitat diversity
  • Ordination
  • Persistent soil seed bank
  • Plant community
  • Temperate deciduous forest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Plant Science


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