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Germination potential of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) swamp soil seed bank along geographical gradients

November 5, 2020

Changing environments of temperature, precipitation and moisture availability can affect vegetation in ecosystems, by affecting regeneration from the seed bank. Our objective was to explore the responses of soil seed bank germination to climate-related environments along geographic gradients. We collected seed banks in baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) swamps along the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico Coast in the United States, which have distinct temperature and/or precipitation gradients, and germinated them in a greenhouse. The frequency, richness and seed density of species germinated from the seed bank were compared between various geographic locations, experimental water regimes (saturated, flooded) and wetland types (tidal, non-tidal and inland swamps). We also analyzed the relationship of seed density to the environment by using a Non-metric Multi-dimensional Scaling (NMDS) model. Sixty-one species germinated from the seed bank, differing in pattern by geographic location, experimental water regime and wetland type. The foundation species (i.e., T. distichum and Cephalanthus occidentalis) germinated with a niche affinity for the northern part of the latitudinal gradient (Tennessee and Illinois) and these species may shift northward with climate change. Some species had higher seed density in the locations that were subject to more persistent drought conditions (e.g., Texas) including Cyperus rotundus and Gratiola virginiana, indicating that these species may be better adapted to sites with high temperature and low precipitation. In contrast, certain species including Saururus cernuus and Ludwigia palustris were present throughout the range of these gradients, and so may be more resilient to any future climate shifts. We found that the regeneration potential of baldcypress swamps might be altered by changes in local and climate environment because of nuances of responses of seed banks to climates along latitudinal and longitudinal gradients. Our study can help predict vegetation regeneration potential to climate change environments depending on the ability of these species to disperse and maintain seed banks.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Germination potential of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) swamp soil seed bank along geographical gradients
DOI 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.143484
Authors Ting Lei, Beth Middleton
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science of the Total Environment
Index ID 70216456
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center