, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 655-668
Date: 03 Feb 2011

Reproductive biology of Abies cephalonica Loudon in Mount Aenos National Park, Cephalonia, Greece

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Abstract

The reproductive biology of the endemic to Greece Abies cephalonica Loudon, including the phenology of the reproductive life cycle, cone production in relation to plant age and the required seed germination conditions, was studied. All individuals growing within 20 permanent plots of 100 m2 each established in 11 different locations covering the entire strictly protected area of Mount Aenos National Park (Cephalonia) were monitored over a period of 4 years. The cones are formed on the upper part of the previous year’s branches, mostly at the upper crown half of the reproductive individuals (over 53 years old). Female flowers are pollinated in spring and cone maturation lasts until the beginning of autumn, when seed dispersal occurs. The annual production of cones per individual varied significantly, revealing masting behavior for this tree. This behavior was also expressed in the number of trees producing cones, as well as the percentage of sound seeds per cone. A significant difference in the mass and the length of the cones between the years of low and high cone production was observed, being higher in the years of massive cone production. Similar germination percentages were observed in full darkness or under “canopy light” and “sun light”, provided that the seeds were previously stratified for 6 weeks. It is concluded that A. cephalonica exhibits plasticity expressed in its reproductive behavior for alternating years of high to low cone production and in its seed germination for an array of habitat light conditions.

Communicated by T. Grams.