Habitat loss and degradation is one of the biggest issues leading to species loss. In the Midwestern US the remaining prairies and savannas are highly fragmented and degraded due to human disturbance. Habitat degradation can result in decreased seed vitality by reducing maternal fitness. Understanding how habitat quality at seed development and length of seed storage affect seedling development is important to the conservation and reintroduction of a species. We examined how these variables impacted seed germination, time to germination, and seedling survival of Synthyris bullii (Plantaginaceae), a rare plant endemic to the Midwestern US under greenhouse conditions. Seed germination was higher for seeds of plants from open and semi-shaded sites (5.6±0.7% and 4.7±0.8%, respectively) compared to shaded sites (0.9±0.2%). Seed germination was highest for seeds from 2011 (5.7±0.8%), lower for seeds from 2009 and 2010 (3.6±0.8% and 2.5±0.4%, respectively), and lowest for seeds from 2008 (<0.1%). Seeds germinated faster from open and semi-shaded sites (28.8±0.7 and 28.1±1.2 days, respectively) compared to shaded sites (33.4±1.8). Younger seeds germinated faster than older seeds (2011-2009: 26.9±0.4, 30.2±1.1, and 33.0±1.8 days). Only one seed germinated for 2008 (56 days). Seedling survival was higher for seed from open sites (39.0±4.8%) compared to semi-shaded and shaded sites (32.7±6.1% and 31.9±8.6%, respectively). Seedling survival decreased with seed age (2011-2009: 41.8±4.8%, 30.4±6.5%, and 29.1±7.1%). In general, younger seeds from open habitats were the most likely to germinate and survive. Woody species encroachment should be removed and seeds should be planted within 8 years of collection to maximize the persistence and recruitment potential of Synthyris bullii.
|Original language||English (US)|
|State||Published - 2018|