Inter-population variability in seed dormancy, seed mass and germination in Helianthemum salicifolium (Cistaceae), a hard-seeded annual herb

Abstract

Many plant traits show variability within species in response to ecological gradients. In this study, we examined the variability in seed traits among ten populations of Helianthemum salicifolium (L.) Miller in Anatolia, Turkey. Since the Anatolian Peninsula has a geographic structure exhibiting longitudinal, elevational and climatic gradients, we hypothesized that seed dormancy, seed mass and germination show inter-population variability. We also postulated that seed traits are correlated to climatic and geographic characteristics of the populations. Since H. salicifolium is a species with a hard seed coat, we conducted germination experiments using heat shock and mechanical scarification. The germination percentage was improved significantly by mechanical scarification but remained unaltered by heat shock treatments in all sampled populations. As expected, seed traits exhibited substantial variation among the populations. We found no association between germination traits (dormancy level and germination rate in different treatments) and environmental variables. By contrast, seed mass showed an elevational/longitudinal/climatic pattern: Populations in cooler and higher-elevation areas had larger seed mass. However, when the influence of climate was controlled, the geographic location became an important factor affecting seed mass. We conclude that seed mass variation among populations of H. salicifolium in Anatolia is shaped by the climate at the regional scale, but at the same time, geographically closer populations exhibit more similarity in seed mass.

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Acknowledgements

We thank D. Deniz Kazancı for her help during the germination experiment and S. Bülent Alten for his logistic support. We also thank two anonymous referees and the associate editor Petr Dostál for providing useful and constructive comments to improve the manuscript. E. Burcu Yeşilyurt is supported by a grant from The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (BIDEB-2211, Scholarship for the Ph.D. program). The seeds used in the study were collected through a scientific research project supported by the Hacettepe University Scientific Research Unit (project No. 01.001.601.006). The germination experiments were conducted in the Ecological Sciences Research Lab (Hacettepe University), and consumable materials needed for the experiment were provided by the Fire Ecology and Seed Research Lab (Hacettepe University). We declare that the experiments in this study were conducted according to the current laws of Turkey.

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Correspondence to Çağatay Tavşanoğlu.

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Yeşilyurt, E.B., Erik, S. & Tavşanoğlu, Ç. Inter-population variability in seed dormancy, seed mass and germination in Helianthemum salicifolium (Cistaceae), a hard-seeded annual herb. Folia Geobot 52, 253–263 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12224-017-9290-3

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Keywords

  • elevational gradient
  • Anatolia
  • climate variability
  • geographic variation
  • scarification
  • seed mass