The abundance and composition of the submerged macrophyte seed bank in the Doñana marsh (southwestern Spain) was evaluated to assess its relationship with the overlying vegetation. The results obtained demonstrate the existence of a dense seed-bank, both in terms of the number of seeds and their biomass, which represented about 10% (5% for angiosperms and >20% for Charophyta) of the total plant biomass, which ensures the maintenance of the annual submerged macrophyte populations of the seasonally inundated Donñana marsh. Seed bank and established vegetation were coupled, as reflected in the existence of significant correlations between their structure and abundance. This coupling was lacking for Charophyta, whose oospores are widespread and abundant across the marsh, even at locations where they are absent, or rare, in the established vegetation. These differences between the seed bank of annual angiosperms and Charophyta appear to reflect, in part, structural differences between angiosperm seeds and Charophyta oospores, with important ecological consequences. An important aspect of these differences is the allocation of Charophyta reproductive effort to many small propagules lacking embryo storage, compared to those of angiosperms, which ensures their efficient dispersal and numerical abundance in the seed bank.
- Seed bank
- Seed size
- Submerged macrophytes
- Temporary Mediterranean marsh
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics