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Abstract Detail

Ecological Section

Gavala, Lacey [1], Jordon-Thaden, Ingrid [1], Martine, Rachel F. [2], Martine, Chris [1].

Effect of fire on seed germination in Solanum beaugleholei, an endemic spiny solanum of the Kimberley region, Australia.

Spiny solanums of the fire-prone Australian monsoon tropics are often assumed to be “fire weeds,” with increased levels of recruitment associated with frequent bush fires. During fieldwork on the Kimberley Plateau, seeds of the endemic Solanum beaugleholei were collected from a habitat where an intense fire had recently burned. Seeds were removed from fruits exposed to three qualitative levels of burning: scorched, partially burned, and unburned. Fruits/seeds were then collected from an unburned S. beaugleholei population ca. 25 km away. In the lab, half of the seeds of each of the four “fire treatments” were soaked and treated with gibberellic acid, while the other half were soaked in water only. To understand the effect of the fire on the seeds, time to germination and rates of germination were recorded. Seeds collected from the unburned population and unburned seeds from the fire site showed the highest germination rates and shortest time to germination, allowing us to infer that fire has a negative effect on seed germination in S. beaugleholei. As a means to further confirm and clarify these findings, the seedlings were grown into mature greenhouse plants and hand pollinated to establish a new seed source for experiments replicating fire conditions ex situ. Seeds were given pre-sowing treatments exploring the potential roles of various ecological correlates of fire exposure in hastening or promoting seed germination and seedling growth. Understanding the effect of fire on S. beaugleholei may be useful in conservation efforts. Because fire appears to hinder seedling recruitment in S. beaugleholei, frequent incidences of fire (including prescribed burns) on the Kimberly Plateau could result in declines of this uncommon endemic species in certain habitats.

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1 - Bucknell University, Biological Sciences, 203 Biology Building, Lewisburg, PA, 17837, USA, 570/577-1135
2 - Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, 17837, USA

Seed germination
undergraduate research.

Presentation Type: Poster:Posters for Sections
Session: P
Location: Hall D/The Shaw Conference Centre
Date: Monday, July 27th, 2015
Time: 5:30 PM
Number: PEC027
Abstract ID:451
Candidate for Awards:Ecological Section Best Undergraduate Presentation Award

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