Influence of environmental factors on Vallisneria americana seed germination

Jarvis, Jessie C., and Moore, Kenneth A. (2008) Influence of environmental factors on Vallisneria americana seed germination. Aquatic Botany, 88 (4). pp. 283-294.

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Over the course of a growing season (April–October) water quality (water temperature, light, salinity, dissolved oxygen) and reproductive phenology (biomass, production of flowering shoots and seed pods, seed bank densities) were quantified in three Vallisneria americana beds in Nanjemoy Creek, MD, a tributary to the Chesapeake Bay. Clonal production of V. americana biomass increased at all sites when water temperatures rose above 25 °C. Flowering occurred during peak biomass (August–September) and resulted in the production of up to 16,000 seeds m−2 at the end of the growing season. However, observed seed bank densities represented <1% of seed production. Laboratory experiments quantified the effects of dissolved oxygen (0.29–8.00 mg l−1), light (0–160 μmol m2 s−1), temperature (13–29 °C), salinity (0.1–17.4 psu), sediment composition (3–86% sand; 0.9–8.3% sediment organic content), and burial depth (0.2–10 cm) on V. americana seed germination. Germination of V. americana seeds was enhanced (greater overall germination and shorter time to germination) under oxygenated conditions (8.00 mg l−1), temperatures >22 °C, salinities of <1 psu, and in sediments composed of ≤3% organic content and >40% sand. Light (<160 μmol m−2 s−1) and burial depth (0.2–10 cm) had no significant effects on germination. Temperatures most favorable for seed germination (>22 °C) occurred in June, 2 months in the growing season just prior to development of peak vegetative standing stock. Seedlings were therefore at a distinct disadvantage to plants developed from over wintering buds. A lack of viable seed retention and inadequate environmental conditions at critical times in the growing season may be limiting seed germination success and subsequent seedling establishment within V. americana beds in the Chesapeake Bay. However, ungerminated seeds were found to maintain high viability, especially at salinities of 10 psu that can have significant negative effects of shoot growth survival. This suggests that seeds may serve as a source of reproductive material for bed recovery after periods of drought or other stressful conditions in estuarine systems.

Item ID: 33488
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 0304-3770
Keywords: submerged aquatic vegetation; seeds; germination; viability
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2014 04:22
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060204 Freshwater Ecology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960802 Coastal and Estuarine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 100%
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