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Summary

Seeds of Viola arvensis collected in different years and in different months within those years were buried in soil under natural seasonal temperature cycles, and changes in their germination requirements monitored. Seeds were dormant at maturity in May or June, but nondormant by autumn. During winter, some seeds entered dormancy, while others entered conditional dormancy, i.e. retained the ability to germinate at 15/6 and 20/10oC but not at other thermoperiods. Dormant and conditionally dormant seeds became nondormant the following summer. Seeds collected in 1981 exhibited an annual dormancy:nondormancy cycle, while those collected in 1982 exhibited an annual conditional dormancy:nondormancy cycle. The type of dormancy cycle found in these seed lots during their first year of burial persisted in subsequent years. Thirty–five and 36% of seeds collected in May 1983 and 1986, respectively, were conditionally dormant the following May, while only 5 and 9% of those collected in the same field in June 1983 and 1986, respectively, were conditionally dormant. Dormant seeds collected in 1981,1982 and 1984 and buried at 5oC during summer germinated to 0, 33 and 0% respectively, at 15/6oC in autumn. After the 1982 seeds became nondormant during summer, only 25% entered conditional dormancy when buried at 5oC, but after the 1981 and 1984 seeds became nondormant, 100% entered conditional dormancy at 5oC. Thus, the persistent seed bank of V. arvensis at a population site may consist of seeds with an annual dormancy:mondormancy cycle and others with an annual conditional dormancy:nondormancy cycle. This is the first report of the two types of annual seed dormancy cycles in the same species.