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Relationship between Seed Bank Expression, Adult Longevity and Aridity in Species of Chaetanthera (Asteraceae) in Central Chile

Annals of botany 2006 v.98 no.3 pp. 591-600
Asteraceae, Mediterranean climate, analysis of variance, annuals, correlation, field experimentation, germination, growth chambers, herbs, linear models, longevity, perennials, seeds, Chile
BACKGROUND: and Aims Broad surveys have detected inverse relationships between seed and adult longevity and between seed size and adult longevity. However, low and unpredictable precipitation is also associated with seed bank (SB) expression in semi-arid and arid areas. The relationship between adult longevity, SB formation, seed mass and aridity is examined in annual and perennial herbs of Chaetanthera (Asteraceae) from the Chilean Mediterranean-type climate and winter-rainfall desert areas over a precipitation range of one order of magnitude. METHODS: Seeds of 18 species and subtaxa (32 populations) were buried in field locations, and exhumed after two successive germination periods. Seeds not germinating in the field were tested in a growth chamber, and remnant intact seed tested for viability. Seed banks were classed as transient or persistent. The effect of life form, species, population and burial time on persistent SB size was assessed with factorial ANOVA. Persistent seed bank size was compared with the Martonne aridity index (shown to be a surrogate for inter-annual variation in precipitation) and seed size using linear regression. ANCOVA assessed the effect of life-form on SB size with aridity as covariate. Key Results Three species had a transient SB and 15 a persistent SB. ANOVA revealed a significant effect of life-form on SB size with annuals having larger SB size and greater capacity to form a persistent SB than perennials. Significant inter-population variation in SB size was found in 64 % of cases. Seed mass was negatively correlated with persistent SB size. Persistent seed bank size was significantly correlated with the Martonne aridity index in the perennial and annual species, with species from more arid areas having larger persistent SBs. However, when aridity was considered as a covariate, ANCOVA revealed no significant differences between the annual and perennial herbs. CONCLUSIONS: Persistent seed bank size in Chaetanthera appears to reflect environmental selection rather than any trade-off with adult longevity.