Plant Ecology

, Volume 213, Issue 6, pp 919–931

Effects of changes in the timing and duration of the wet season on the germination of the soil seed bank of a seeder-dominated Mediterranean shrubland

  • Blanca Céspedes
  • Iván Torres
  • Itziar R. Urbieta
  • José M. Moreno


In seasonal climates, rainfall patterns are highly variable across years, and can control seed bank dependent regeneration. Here we asked how changing the timing and duration of the wet season would affect the germination of the soil seed bank of a 14-year-old seeder-dominated shrubland. Soil samples, subjected or not to a heat shock, simulating fire, were set to germinate in a chamber whose conditions (temperature and photoperiod) were successively changed to simulate autumn, winter, and spring. Irrigation was implemented to produce three wet season treatments, varying its timing and duration: long (14 weeks of irrigation, during autumn, winter, and spring), medium (8 weeks, late autumn to early spring) and short (4 weeks in winter). Wet season treatments significantly affected germination of shrubs and herbs, as well as species richness and diversity, whereby the later and shorter the season, the lower these variables. Dicots were more sensitive to the treatments than monocots. The timing of the wet season was also important, as similar significant differences were found when only the first 4 weeks of each simulated wet season treatment were considered; the later the season, the lower the germination and richness. Heating the soil generally increased germination but few significant effects were found. We document that a change in the timing and/or duration of the wet season can significantly affect soil seed bank germination. We discuss these results in a context of shifting rainfall patterns under climate change.


Climate change Cistus Germination temperature Heat shock Post-fire regeneration Rainfall pattern Rosmarinus 

Supplementary material

11258_2012_53_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (15 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 15 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Blanca Céspedes
    • 1
  • Iván Torres
    • 1
  • Itziar R. Urbieta
    • 1
  • José M. Moreno
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental SciencesUniversity of Castilla-La ManchaToledoSpain

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