The effect of fire on the dormancy break of annual legume seeds
AbstractFire is a common phenomenon in the Mediterranean environment and strongly influences vegetal population dynamics through its impact on vegetation and the soil seed bank. Fire is able to break down the seed coat of hard-seeded legumes within the soil and trigger germination. To evaluate the effect of fire on the dormancy break in Medicago ciliaris, Medicago rugosa and Scorpiurus muricatus subsp. subvillosus, the seeds were placed at three different depths (surface, 25 mm and 50 mm) and subjected to fires at two different intensities (high and low). As a control sample, a batch of seeds was buried at 25 mm for the duration of the trial and not subjected to fire. Soil temperatures during the fire were compared directly to stubble quantity and indirectly related to soil depth. The two Medicago species survived exposure to 90°C for a few minutes and displayed a significant increase in germination with exposure to high temperatures (over 70°C) for several minutes. On the other hand, no germination occurred in Scorpiurus, irrespective of treatment. In conclusion, fire had a significant and positive effect in triggering germination of the Medicago species, but the dispersal strategies of these hard-seeded legumes are only partially interrupted by fire as a large number of seeds (>50%) remained non-germinated in the soil.
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Copyright (c) 2011 Fabio Gresta, Giovanni Avola, Rosalena Tuttobene, Andrea Onofri, Vincenzo Barrile, Antonia Cristaudo, Valerio Abbate
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