Opportunistic Germination Behaviour of Gypsophila (Caryophyllaceae) in Two Priority Habitats from Semi-arid Mediterranean Steppes
AbstractGypsophila tomentosa and G. struthium are closely related species, characteristic of two European priority habitats, salt and gypsum inland steppes, respectively. Germination strategies of the two taxa were investigated in plants from two nearby populations, growing under the same climatic conditions but on different types of soil, and belonging to different plant communities. Their germination patterns were studied at five constant temperatures in darkness: 5oC, 10oC, 15oC, 20oC and 25oC, and the base temperature and the thermal time requirement were calculated. As the distribution area of both species is subjected to a Mediterranean continental climate with significant differences between day and night, the possible preferences for an alternating temperature regime (25/10oC) were contrasted, as well as the influence of cold stratification and freezing. The effects on seed germination of light at constant 20oC and a 12/12 h photoperiod were also compared in the two species. The main conclusions of the work are the similarity of behaviour of both species, with an absence of seed dormancy, their opportunistic germination strategy, and water availability as the principal limitation to seed germination and plant establishment. The base temperature and thermal time indicate higher competitiveness of G. struthium at low temperatures, but seed germination of G. tomentosa is the most efficient at temperatures higher than 13.3oC. Optimal temperature and illumination conditions for nursery propagation depend on the species. The high viability of seeds observed after freezing prove the orthodox character of these seeds, providing additional information for long term seed conservation procedures.
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