Plant Ecology

, Volume 166, Issue 2, pp 227–240

Seed germination in temperate rain forest species of southern Chile: chilling and gap-dependency germination


    • Centro de Estudios Avenzados en Ecología & BiodiversidadPontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

DOI: 10.1023/A:1023286521721

Cite this article as:
Figueroa, J.A. Plant Ecology (2003) 166: 227. doi:10.1023/A:1023286521721


Canopy gap and chilling requirements for seed germination were assessed in 61 and 44 species, respectively, in the temperate rain forest of southern Chile. Germination assays within canopy gap and understorey were carried out under natural conditions. Germination tests in cold stratified and non-stratified seeds were performed under laboratory conditions. Seeds were collected of common trees, shrubs, vines and perennial herbs of forests in southern Chile. Final percent germination was significantly enhanced under canopy gap conditions in 19 species, and significantly reduced in 11 species. Germination proved indifferent under gap vs. understorey conditions in half the species tested. Cold stratification affected germination in 11 species: significantly increasing final germination of four species, and significantly decreasing final percent germination of seven species. A Principal Components Analysis (PCA) was applied with the purpose of identifying groups of species with similar germination strategies. Four attributes were included in the PCA: final germination percentage in canopy gap, germination rate in the laboratory, and gap-and chilling-dependency indices (EGAP and STRAT, respectively). The first axis separated species mainly on EGAP variation while the second axis separated them mainly according to STRAT variation; the two axes together explaining 73% of the among-species variation. A small group of trees and vines germinating best in the understorey and neutral to chilling could clearly be distinguished from the remaining species analyzed. Multifactorial ANOVAs were used for evaluating the combined effect of successional status, seed mass, dispersal period, life form, phylogenetic categories, and dispersal syndrome on EGAP and STRAT variation. The EGAP value of secondary successional species proved significantly greater than that of primary successional species and species with endozoochorous seed dispersal were significantly less dependent on chilling (according to STRAT values) compared to species with mainly wind-dispersed seeds. The possible implications of these results for seedling establishment are discussed.

Chilling requirementGermination in canopy gapSeed dispersalSeed germinationSuccessional statusTemperate rain forest

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003