Seed dormancy and germination characteristics of common alder (Alnus glutinosa L.) indicate some potential to adapt to climate change in Britain
Authors: Gosling, Peter G.; McCartan, Shelagh A.; Peace, Andrew J.
Source: Forestry, Volume 82, Number 5, 7 December 2009 , pp. 573-582(10)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Abstract:Seeds of Alnus glutinosa (L.) did not germinate at either 10 or 15C. However, the same seedlot exhibited significant germination within 14 days at constant temperatures of 20, 25 and 30C and almost 100 per cent germination of live seeds at a daily alternating 20/30C. A 21-day moist chilling treatment at 4C (a prechill) caused (1) earlier germination, (2) more uniform germination and (3) germination over a wider range of temperatures. It also stimulated up to half the live seeds to germinate at 10 or 15C. Increasing the prechill duration from 21 to 42 to 84 days significantly enhanced all three beneficial effects.
In today's climate, the above dormancy and germination characteristics minimize autumn germination and stimulate earlier and more synchronous emergence over a wider range of temperatures the following spring. But, it is interesting to note that they also illustrate how a proportion of the population will survive every sequence/combination of climate change that can be envisaged. For example, if climate change brings about longer, warmer autumns in the UK, then more seeds are likely to germinate before winter, and if the subsequent winter is also warmer, shorter or both, then these seedlings will thrive into the next spring. But even if a spell of sub-zero winter temperatures kills the delicate seedlings, there will always be a few seeds that remain dormant into the winter, benefit from the cold snap and emerge the following spring.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 7 December 2009
- Forestry publishes refereed papers on all aspects of research, practice and policy that promote the sustainable development of forests, woodlands and trees. In considering suitability for publication attention is given to both the originality of contributions and their practical application. Preference is usually given to work undertaken in the temperate and/or boreal zones; only articles of exceptional merit from tropical zones will also be considered.