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

Version 2 2024-06-06, 04:43
Version 1 2023-10-23, 02:41
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-06, 04:43 authored by TM Smith, Craig ShermanCraig Sherman, EE Cumming, PH York, JC Jarvis
AbstractSeed 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.

History

Journal

Hydrobiologia

Volume

849

Pagination

2335-2352

Location

Berlin, Germany

ISSN

0018-8158

eISSN

1573-5117

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Issue

10

Publisher

Springer

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