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weed seed bank definition

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Seed dormancy and environmental constraints on germination influence various characteristics of soil seed banks. For example, seed dormancy determines how long a seed can remain viable in the soil. Factors such as embryo immaturity, chemical inhibitors, and physical constraints influence seed dormancy. Light filtered through plant canopies, for example, can inhibit germination in some species, while a long winter chilling may break dormancy in other species. The result is a considerable variety in the patterns of germination of the seed banks by seasons, disturbances, or other environmental shifts.

The role of seed dormancy

In addition to dormancy, considerable variation occurs in seed bank germination because of seasonal or other environmental shifts. Disturbances such as fire, flooding, windstorms, plowing, or forest clearing are frequently strong selective forces and may increase the overall germination response of seeds. Ecosystems characterized by wildfire often have extreme cases of persistent seed banks, as is common for many areas with Mediterranean climates, such as Australia, California, and South Africa. In those ecosystems the germination of many species requires signals provided by fire, such as a heat pulse into the soil or chemicals from smoke or charred wood. Germination may not occur until after a wildfire, which then results in mass germination from the seed bank the following spring. Similarly, the seed banks of agricultural weeds are often well adapted to the almost continuous human-made disturbances of their environment. Such weeds frequently have complex dormancy patterns that reflect the agricultural practices under which they evolved.

Variation in the characteristics of seed dormancy determine whether a species’s soil seed bank is transient (temporary) or persistent. Transient seed banks are composed of species that produce seeds with a brief or no period of dormancy. Such seeds generally germinate prior to the next round of seed production, and the seed bank is thus continually depleted and reestablished. Transient seed banks are typical for many plants, especially long-lived perennials such as trees and shrubs. Often, such species rely on other strategies or life-history stages for persistence. For example, species may depend on long-lived adults, “banks” of seedlings in a forest understory, or extensive seed dispersal. In contrast, species with persistent seed banks have seeds that can remain dormant for more than a year, meaning that there is always some viable seed in the soil as a reserve. Persistent seed banks are common in annual plants and some woody plants, in which the failure of seed to establish the next generation would mean the collapse of the population. Scientists sometimes further classify persistent seed banks based on the extent or pattern of dormancy.

soil seed bank, natural storage of seeds in the leaf litter, on the soil surface, or in the soil of many ecosystems, which serves as a repository for the production of subsequent generations of plants to enable their survival. The term soil seed bank can be used to describe the storage of seeds from a single species or from all the species in a particular area. Given the variety of stresses that ecosystems experience—such as cold, wildfire, drought, and disturbance—seed banks are often a crucial survival mechanism for many plants and maintain the long-term stability of ecosystems.

14%. Multiple cohorts were produced between February and October. No-till systems produced higher emergence rates than conventional tillage systems. Seedlings of B. tournefortii did not emerge from 5 cm soil depth; therefore, diligent tillage practices without seedbank replenishment could rapidly reduce the presence of this weed. A soil-moisture study revealed that at 25% of water-holding capacity, B. tournefortii tended to produce sufficient seeds for reinfestation in the field. Brassica tournefortii is a cross-pollinated species, and its wider emergence time and capacity to produce enough seeds in a dry environment enable it to become widespread in Australia. Early cohorts (March) tended to have vigorous growth and high reproduction potential. This study found B. tournefortii to be a poor competitor of wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), having greater capacity to compete with the slow-growing crop chickpea. Therefore, control of early-season cohorts and use of rotations with a more vigorous crop such as wheat may reduce the seedbank. The information gained in this study will be important in developing better understanding of seed ecology of B. tournefortii for the purpose of developing integrated management strategies.