Clemente, A.S., Müller, J.V., Almeida, E., Costa, C.A., Lobo Dias, S., Magos Brehm, J., Rebelo, R. & Martins-Loução, M.A. (2017) What can routine germination tests in seed banks tell us about the germination ecology of endemic and protected species?Botany, 95(7), 673-684. DOI:10.1139/cjb-2017-0003 (IF2017 1,178; Q3 Plant Sciences)
Protocols for the conservation of threatened plants are often constrained by the absence of data on germination ecology. However, seed bank managers periodically monitor the viability of stored seed collections using germination tests. Here, we argue that data from those tests can and should be used to provide information on germination requirements of threatened species. Twelve taxa endemic to Portugal were used as a test case to determine the effect of incubation temperature and pretreatments upon germination and to identify major factors eliciting germination and releasing dormancy. We achieved maximum germination percentages >95% for nine taxa. Temperature significantly affected the final germination and mean germination time in most taxa. Maximum and faster germination at cool temperatures (15 °C or alternate 20/10 °C) was the prevailing trend. Cold stratification improved germination in one species, suggesting physiological dormancy. Scarification increased the germination percentage of one species among those expected to exhibit physical dormancy. Seed bank data provided valuable information on germination ecology, which can be used in in-situ conservation and as a baseline for further germination studies. Given the increasing threats to plant diversity, accessibility to seed bank data are paramount.