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Seed Size as Key Factor in Germination and Seedling Development of Copaifera langsdorffii (Fabaceae)

DOI: 10.4236/ajps.2014.517270, PP. 2566-2573

Keywords: Community Organization, Plant Distribution, Seed Biometry, Seed Reserves, Seedling Vigor

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Abstract:

Seed size is a plastic trait of the plants that directly affect seed germination and seedling recruitment. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between seed size, seed germinability and seedling performance of Copaifera langsdorffii by testing four hypotheses: 1) larger seeds have higher germination percentage; 2) smaller seeds require less time to germinate and for initial development of the seedlings; 3) larger seeds produce more vigorous seedlings and 4) seed size negatively affects seedling root/shoot ratio. In 2011, we selected 30 individuals of C. langsdorffii from which 300 seeds were randomly collected in the plant canopy. All these seeds were weighted and placed in germination tray using vermiculite as substrate. Seed germinability and initial development of seedlings were monitored daily until cotyledons fell. Small seeds have higher germination percentage and germinate faster when compared to large seeds. Nonetheless, seedlings originated from larger seeds have longer development times, resulting in more vigorous seedlings. In addition, seedlings originating from small seeds allocate proportionally greater amount of resources to roots when compared to larger seeds. The fact that small seeds have higher germination percentage and faster germination favors the colonization of transient habitats. However, larger seeds produce more vigorous seedlings, favoring the seedling establishment in more stable habitats. Thus, we argue that high variability in seed size of C. langsdorffii favors its widespread geographic distribution.

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