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Keywords:

  • germination;
  • predation;
  • seed-bank;
  • Trifolium balansae;
  • Trifolium resupinatum

Abstract The influence of predation, fungi and germination of seed of the annual legumes Trifolium balansae and Trifolium resupinatum was investigated by placing known quantities of seed in bags in the field; combinations of all three factors were imposed. It was found that rainfall was the most important factor contributing to the loss of seed over summer (up to 76%), followed by predation (up to 15%); fungi had only a very small influence (0.1–0.2%). Predation contributed to a larger percentage of loss over summer in T. resupinatum line SA14433 than in T. balansae cv. Paradana, which is attributed to seed size. The effect of summer grazing on the size of the seed-bank was investigated. It was found that summer grazing did not influence the amount of seed present in the seed-bank in March. Removal of all surface material in December resulted in a significant drop in seed reserves compared with the ungrazed or grazed areas. Hardseededness in March was not affected by any of the treatments; the seedling density after regeneration was not affected by summer grazing, but was reduced when all surface material was removed. The data were incorporated in a model to describe seed loss from the seed bank over summer quantitatively; the utility of such models is discussed.