Germination responses of three grassland species differ between native and invasive origins
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- Beckmann, M., Bruelheide, H. & Erfmeier, A. Ecol Res (2011) 26: 763. doi:10.1007/s11284-011-0834-3
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The germination stage is critical in plant life-history and is also a key process during the expansion of species’ ranges into new environments. In this study we investigated the germination patterns of three plant species (Achillea millefolium, Hieracium pilosella and Hypericum perforatum) that are invasive to New Zealand (NZ) and native to Central Europe. We asked whether the species show differences in germination temperature requirements, germination speed and maximum germination rates, and thus, whether they display evidence of adaptation to different conditions in the invasive range. Seeds from three populations per species and region were subjected to three different temperature regimes to compare germination rates among origins and across temperature conditions. For Achillea millefolium and Hypericum perforatum, germination rates were significantly higher for invasive NZ provenances than for native German ones. Seeds from invasive populations of all three species displayed increased maximum germination at medium temperature conditions when compared to native populations, which indicates altered germination strategies in the invaded range. Changes in temporal development patterns were most conspicuous for invasive Hieracium pilosella and Hypericum perforatum populations. These findings imply that adaptation in germination patterns towards different climatic conditions in invasive populations has occurred. Our study emphasises the importance of the germination stage during plant invasion and its role in explaining range expansion of these species.