Size matters: variations in seagrass seed size at local scales affects seed performance

Smith, Timothy M., Sherman, Craig D.H., Cumming, Erin E., York, Paul H., and Jarvis, Jessie C. (2022) Size matters: variations in seagrass seed size at local scales affects seed performance. Hydrobiologia, 849. pp. 2335-2352.

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Seed size can have an impact on angiosperm reproductive fitness. Ecological theory predicts plants that will produce larger seeds in stressful environments to increase the chances of seedling survival and numerous small seeds in favourable conditions to increase the number of recruits. We measured seed morphology of the seagrass Heterozostera nigricaulis from four populations under differing environmental conditions in South East Australia. Seed size and mass among sites showed consistent differences over four flowering seasons. Seeds from exposed, ephemeral meadows (Blairgowrie, Edwards Point) were 19%–53% heavier than those from larger, stable meadows at more sheltered sites (Swan Bay, Point Henry). Overall, heavier seeds from exposed sites performed better in germination experiments and persisted (remained viable) longer compared to small seeds from sheltered sites. Seeds from sheltered sites showed contrasting levels of seed performance. Small seeds from Swan Bay had the lowest germination but the proportion of viable seeds after 12 months were much higher (41%) than similar sized seeds from Point Henry (0%). There are clear life history benefits of large seeds that facilitate seed persistence and germination at exposed sites; however, the performance of smaller seeds varied between sites and may be a function of other site-specific advantages.

Item ID: 73440
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1573-5117
Keywords: Life history, Reproduction, Germination, Seed morphology, Zostera, Heterozostera
Copyright Information: © The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2022 23:53
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 40%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3108 Plant biology > 310804 Plant developmental and reproductive biology @ 40%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310307 Population ecology @ 20%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1802 Coastal and estuarine systems and management > 180201 Assessment and management of coastal and estuarine ecosystems @ 50%
18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1805 Marine systems and management > 180501 Assessment and management of benthic marine ecosystems @ 50%
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