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Ecol Evol. 2019 Jan 22;9(4):2160-2170. doi: 10.1002/ece3.4910. eCollection 2019 Feb.

Seed germination and seedling growth of five desert plants and their relevance to vegetation restoration.

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Key Laboratory of Resource Plants, West China Subalpine Botanical Garden, Institute of Botany Chinese Academy of Sciences Beijing China.
Institute of Applied Ecology Chinese Academy of Sciences Shenyang China.
Information Center Ministry of Environmental Protection Beijing China.
National Institute for Environmental Studies Tsukuba Japan.


Due to significant decreases in precipitation in northern China, knowledge of the response of seed germination and plant growth characteristics to key limiting factors is essential for vegetation restoration. We examined seed germination under different temperatures and water potentials, and we examined seedling growth under different amounts of water supply. Experiments were carried out in automatic temperature-, humidity-, and light-controlled growth chambers. Under low water potentials, the final germination percentages of four herbaceous species were high, while seed germination of the shrub species Caragana microphylla was significantly inhibited. Under the different water supply amounts, seedlings of Agropyron cristatum allocated more biomass to the root and had a higher growth rate than those of Elymus dahuricus and C. microphylla. In light of these results and drier environmental conditions (annual mean precipitation is 366 mm, which falling mainly between June and August), potential selections for revegetation of different landscapes include the following: A. cristatum for shifting sand dunes, the establishment of the pioneer species Agriophyllum squarrosum, C. microphylla for semifixed sand dunes, E. dahuricus for fixed sand dunes, and Melilotus suaveolens and Medicago sativa for cultivation.


biomass allocation; germination; growth; horqin sandy land; precipitation; semiarid regions

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