Dormancy and germination: making every seed count in restoration

Kildisheva OA, Dixon KW, Silveira FAO, Chapman T, Di Sacco A, Mondoni A, Turner SR, Cross AT. 2020. Dormancy and germination: making every seed count in restoration. Restoration Ecology. 


From 50 to 90% of wild plant species worldwide produce seeds that are dormant upon maturity, with specific dormancy traits driven by species' occurrence geography, growth form, and genetic factors. While dormancy is a beneficial adaptation for intact natural systems, it can limit plant recruitment in restoration scenarios because seeds may take several seasons to lose dormancy and consequently show low or erratic germination. During this time, seed predation, weed competition, soil erosion, and seed viability loss can lead to plant re‐establishment failure. Understanding and considering seed dormancy and germination traits in restoration planning are thus critical to ensuring effective seed management and seed use efficiency. There are five known dormancy classes (physiological, physical, combinational, morphological, and morphophysiological), each requiring specific cues to alleviate dormancy and enable germination. The dormancy status of a seed can be determined through a series of simple steps that account for initial seed quality and assess germination across a range of environmental conditions. In this article, we outline the steps of the dormancy classification process and the various corresponding methodologies for ex situ dormancy alleviation. We also highlight the importance of record‐keeping and reporting of seed accession information (e.g. geographic coordinates of the seed collection location, cleaning and quality information, storage conditions, and dormancy testing data) to ensure that these factors are adequately considered in restoration planning.