, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 159-165

Effects of sediment load on seedling emergence from wetland seed banks

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Abstract

We examined the effects of sediment depth on emergence of seedlings from wetland seed banks, with the goal of understanding potential effects on wetlands of sediment runoff from agricultural fields. Seed germination was studied in the greenhouse using seed bank samples taken from natural wetlands in central Iowa, U.S.A. Sediment loads as low as 0.25 cm significantly reduced the number of species and total number of individuals recruited from seed bank samples. Addition of sediment decreased the number of individuals appearing for most, but not all, species. The change in number of seedlings that occurred in treatments with 1 cm of sediment cover was related to seed mass, with larger-seeded species showing the least effect of burial by sediment.