Forest Science and Practice

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 286–301 | Cite as

Germination characteristics and diversity of soil seed banks and above-ground vegetation in disturbed and undisturbed oak forests

  • Mehdi HeydariEmail author
  • Hassan Pourbabaei
  • Omid Esmaelzade
  • David Pothier
  • Ali Salehi
Research Article


The destruction of natural ecosystems is an important issue in many parts of the world. In the west of Iran, a vast area of the Zagros Mountain range is covered by typical vegetation including several rare plant species, of which many are currently considered endangered by anthropogenic activities. Despite the important role of soil seed banks to help conserve these degraded plant communities, the floristic studies in the Zagros forests have only focused on aboveground vegetation. In this study, the characteristics of soil seed banks and above-ground vegetation were examined at two forest sites: an undisturbed control (Un) and a disturbed (D) site. The objectives of this study were 1) to investigate the diversity of above-ground vegetation and soil seed banks in disturbed and undisturbed forests, 2) to examine the soil properties and the germination characteristics of the soil seed bank in disturbed and undisturbed oak forests and 3) to estimate the potential of soil seed banks in the restoration of disturbed sites. The results show that soil properties between Un and D sites were significantly different with higher values of pH, NH4-N, N tot, CEC, OC, clay and canopy percentage in the Un site than in the D site. The Simpson diversity, Margalef richness and evenness indices differed significantly between sites, either for the soil seed banks or the above-ground vegetation. After a period of 26 weeks, the germination speed and the mean daily number of germinants were significantly different between Un and D sites. Without other conservation measures, soil seed banks alone cannot result in a full recovery after severe disturbances in the oak forests of Zagros.


soil seed bank germination diversity soil attributes 


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Copyright information

© Beijing Forestry University and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mehdi Heydari
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hassan Pourbabaei
    • 2
  • Omid Esmaelzade
    • 3
  • David Pothier
    • 4
  • Ali Salehi
    • 5
  1. 1.Faculty of Agriculture and Natural ResourcesUniversity of IlamIlamIran
  2. 2.Natural Resource FacultyUniversity of GuilanRasht, GuilanIran
  3. 3.Tarbiat Modares University (TMU)NoorIran
  4. 4.Centre d’étude de la forêt (CEF), Département des sciences du bois et de la forêtUniversité LavalQuébecCanada
  5. 5.Department of ForestryUniversity of GuilanSomehsaraIran

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