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Bet-hedging and best-bet strategies shape seed dormancy

August 17, 2022

Seed dormancy (i.e. delayed germination even when conditions are favourable) is a key plant characteristic that occurs among many species worldwide. But, what selective pressures led to seed dormancy? A recent study provides a major analysis of the factors driving this trait at the global scale (Zhang et al., 2022). Using c. 12 000 species and 10 million records across the globe, they conclude that dormancy is a strategy for plants living under ‘seasonal/unpredictable’ environments; and suggest that bet-hedging could be the major mechanism behind the pattern. To reach their conclusions the authors relate the proportion of species with dormant seeds in a grid-cell global map against climate variables related to annual precipitation, temperature and seasonality. Then they showed that the most significant variables were those related to climate seasonality that they equate with unpredictable climates (although seasonal climates usually are highly predictable in their seasonal cycles).

Publication Year 2022
Title Bet-hedging and best-bet strategies shape seed dormancy
DOI 10.1111/nph.18436
Authors Juli G. Pausas, Byron B Lamont, Jon Keeley, William J. Bond
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title New Phytologist
Index ID 70238479
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center