, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 319-333
Date: 18 Aug 2011

Effects of seed traits on the success of direct seeding for restoring southern Thailand’s lowland evergreen forest ecosystem

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The success of direct seeding, as a low-cost approach to forest restoration, varies with tree species and seed characteristics. A system to predict which tree species are likely to be suitable for direct seeding would therefore be useful for improving forest restoration projects. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the effects of seed traits on the success of direct seeding to restore tropical forest in southern Thailand. Seeds of 19 indigenous lowland tropical forest tree species were collected, from both the east and west sides of the Thailand peninsular and the following parameters measured: seed size, shape, coat thickness and moisture content. Field trials were established to determine seed germination rates and to calculate a “direct seeding suitability score” for each species, which combined seedling establishment and growth rates. Seed size, shape and moisture content were associated with germination percentage. Species with higher seedling survival tended to have large or intermediate-sized seeds, round or oval seeds and seeds with low or medium moisture content. Only seed coat thickness was significantly correlated with the suitability score (r = 0.65, p < 0.01). Seed coat thickness >0.4 mm coincided with higher rank suitability score. These conditions successfully predicted the success or failure of direct seeding for 15 out of 19 species tested. Eight tree species are recommended as suitable for restoring lowland evergreen forest ecosystems in southern Thailand, by direct seeding.