Abstract of a paper based on work funded in part by the Australian Flora Foundation
Lyndlee C. Easton Sonia Kleindorfer
School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, GPO Box 2100,
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, 5001.
Folia Geobot (2008) 43:383–396
The seed size and number theories have been proposed to explain the advantages of having many small versus a few large seeds in plants. In particular, seed germination is predicted to be shaped by temperature, and may differ for small and large seeds. In this study, we experimentally test germination at different temperatures in 12 species of arid zone plants in the genus Frankenia L. that differ in seed mass. Seed mass was categorized as “smaller-seeded species” versus “larger-seeded species” for analysis (six species per category). Many of these species co-occur geographically and hence experience similar abiotic conditions (unpredictable rainfall, extremes in temperature, poor soil conditions). The results demonstrated differences in germination as a result of the temperature*seed mass(species) interaction effect. There were significant differences in germination rates across seed mass categories during the first eight days of germination. Germination rates were higher in the larger-seeded species than the smaller-seeded species. Smaller-seeded species had lower germination success but had higher germination rates at lower temperatures, and had a more stringent temperature as a germination cue. These findings are discussed in the context of lifehistory strategies in arid zone plants.