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Effects of Moisture, Temperature, and Time on Seed Germination of Five Wetland Carices: Implications for Restoration

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Abstract

Successful restoration of sedge meadow wetlands is limited by lack of information regarding reintroduction of sedge (Carex) propagules. While restoration from seed is common for prairie restorations, little is known about the germination characteristics of many wetland plants, including sedges. We present the results of a 2.5-year study on seed germination and viability for five species of Carex common to sedge meadow and prairie pothole wetlands in temperate North America. Seed storage and germination conditions were investigated to determine the optimum combination for maintaining seed viability and stimulating germination rates over time. Seeds were germinated under seven different temperature and three moisture regimes after storage for 4, 10, and 14 months under one of four different storage regimes (dry-warm, dry-cold, moist-cold, and wet-cold). The efficacy of short-term wet-cold stratification to stimulate germination of 2.5-year-old seed after long-term dry storage was also investigated. Carex stricta, Carex comosa, and Carex lacustris showed the greatest germination response after wet-cold or moist-cold storage, while Carex lasiocarpa and Carex rostrata showed similar rates of germination after either wet-cold or dry-warm storage. Wet-cold long-term storage was associated with a high level of viability in all five species after 2.5 years. Viability and germination rates were reduced in Carex stricta, Carex comosa, and Carex lasiocarpa after long-term dry-cold storage. Germination rates of seeds stored dry for 2.5 years are not improved by short-term wet-cold treatment in any species tested. Carex seeds should be stored under wet-cold conditions to maintain seed viability over time, thus increasing the likelihood of seeding success for sedge meadow restoration.

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