Seedling emergence of 144 subalpine meadow plants: Effects of phylogeny, life cycle type and seed mass

Suzhen Cao, Kun Liu, Guozhen Du, Jerry M. Baskin, Carol C. Baskin, Haiyan Bu, Wei Qi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Timing of seedling emergence is a critical aspect of a plant's life cycle, and it may influence the expression of other plant life history traits. However, most studies have been conducted at the population level, and thus little is known about timing of seedling emergence at the community level. In the field, we determined the peak emergence season for seedlings of 144 species collected from a subalpine meadow on the eastern Tibet Plateau in China. The proportion of species with seedlings emerging in autumn, spring and summer, seedling field emergence percentage (FE) and mean emergence time (MET) were analysed in relation to seed mass, life cycle type (annual/biennial and perennial) and phylogeny. The results showed that (1) the proportion of species with seedlings emerging in autumn (33%), spring (44%) and summer (23%) differed significantly; (2) overall, species with seedlings emerging in autumn had higher FE than those emerging during spring/summer; (3) there was a positive relationship between log-seed mass and log-MET, but log-seed mass had no significant effect on log-FE; (4) life cycle type did not affect seedling emergence; and (5) phylogeny significantly explained peak emergence season. These results suggest that seed mass and phylogenetic position are the main determinants of seedling emergence season. However, seedling peak emergence season affected FE, growing season length and resource utilization, and thus may be related to the importance of a species in the community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-99
Number of pages7
JournalSeed Science Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Financial support. This study was supported by the Key Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants no. 31670437, 31760132, 31470492 and 31670435), the Gansu Province Natural Science Foundation (grants no. 1606RJZA071) and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (grant no. lzujbky-2015-ot05 and lzujbky-2013-91).

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright Cambridge University Press 2018.


  • life cycle type
  • phylogeny
  • seed mass
  • seedling emergence timing
  • subalpine meadow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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