Seed germination ecology of the summer annual Cyperus squarrosus in an unpredictable mudflat habitat

Carol C. Baskin, Jerry M. Baskin, Edward W. Chester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The purpose of our study was to better understand seed germination ecology of the summer annual sedge Cyperus squarrosus, which grows in various habitats, including mudflats and shallow soil over limestone bedrock (rock outcrops), where timing of the period favorable for germination and completion of the life cycle is unpredictable. Over a 28.5-month period, temperature and light:dark requirements for germination were determined at monthly intervals for seeds collected from mudflats and buried under flooded and under nonflooded conditions at natural temperature regimes. Data on dormancy and germination were compared to those published for seeds collected from plants growing on rock outcrops. Under both flooded and nonflooded conditions, seeds from mudflats exhibited an annual conditional dormancy/nondormancy cycle, similar to those from rock outcrops buried under nonflooded conditions. Seeds from mudflats germinated to higher percentages at mid-summer temperatures (35/20°C) in mid-summer than those from rock outcrops. On the other hand, seeds from rock outcrops germinated to higher percentages at March temperatures (15/6°C) in March than those from mudflats. Thus, seeds could germinate on mudflats any time from April through September if dewatering occurred, and they could germinate on rock outcrops any time from March through June and in September if soil moisture was nonlimiting; in both habitats light would be required for germination. Since seeds on mudflats may be flooded for several consecutive years, mudflats are more unpredictable than rock outcrops. Ability of seeds from mudflats to germinate to high percentages in light at 35/20°C throughout the summer and those from rock outcrops not to do so may be related to the greater unpredictability of the mudflat. Each year for 11 years, seeds germinated in mudflat soil samples kept in a nonheated greenhouse, reaching a total of 22526 ± 1401 (mean ± S.E.) seeds m-2; thus, the species has the potential to form a large long-lived persistent soil seed bank.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-14
Number of pages6
JournalActa Oecologica
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • Cyperus
  • Flooding
  • Seed bank
  • Seed dormancy
  • Seed germination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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