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The Behaviour of Seeds in Soil: I. The Heterogeneity of Soil surfaces and its Role in Determining the Establishment of Plants from Seed

J. L. Harper, J. T. Williams and G. R. Sagar
Journal of Ecology
Vol. 53, No. 2 (Jul., 1965), pp. 273-286
DOI: 10.2307/2257975
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2257975
Page Count: 15
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The Behaviour of Seeds in Soil: I. The Heterogeneity of Soil surfaces and its Role in Determining the Establishment of Plants from Seed
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Abstract

Seeds of different species differ in their requirements for conditions suitable for germination. The varied micro-environments provided on a soil surface act selectively on mixed seed populations and determine the numbers of `safe' germination sites. Experiments involved placing various objects, or making depressions, on soil surfaces on which seed had been sown, and of creating artificial soil surfaces of varied microtopography. Species used in the experiments were Plantago lanceolata, P. major, P. media, Bromus rigidus, B. madritensis, Chenopodium album and Brassica oleracea acephala. A ten-point frame was used to obtain a measure of soil microtopography. It is argued that the availability of suitable microsites on a soil surface may offer a means by which the numbers of plants establishing from seed is regulated and the relative abundance of different species is determined.

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