Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 499–510 | Cite as

Seed banks and seed population dynamics of halophytes

  • Irwin A. Ungar


In this review I will describe the importance of seed banks and thepopulation dynamics of seeds on the distribution of species in salinehabitats. The main questions being examined in this review include: 1.Does the seed bank represent the flora of the entire salinity gradient or isit restricted to the species in each zonal community? 2. Is the size andspecies composition of the persistent seed bank regulated by the degree ofsalt stress in habitats along an environmental gradient? 3. Does thepopulation dynamics of seeds influence the temporal and spatial distributionof plant species in saline habitats? Seed banks may be transient orpersistent depending upon the physiological responses of species and thesoil environment in which the seeds are found. The formation of zonalcommunities in salt marsh environments is affected by changes in soilsalinity and flooding along an elevational gradient. Population dynamics ofseeds have been found to determine the spatial and temporal distributionof species along salinity gradients. The flora and relative density of speciesof zonal communities are significantly dependent upon the stress toleranceof species at different stages of development and the presence of transientor persistent seed banks. The occurrence of a seed bank is related to thesalinity tolerance of species at the germination stage of development, aseeds ability to tolerate hypersaline conditions and flooding, and whetheror not species are able to maintain a persistent seed bank until hypersalineconditions are alleviated.

germination halophytes salt marsh salt tolerance seed bank seed demography 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irwin A. Ungar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental and Plant BiologyOhio UniversityAthensU.S.A

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