Seed germinability and longevity influences regeneration of Acacia gerrardii
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Acacia gerrardii is the only native tree species of the Kuwaiti desert ecosystem. However, anthropogenic disturbances and harsh arid climate have contributed towards the disappearance of this keystone species from its habitat. In this study, effects of different seed pretreatments to break dormancy, water entry pathway, and ecology (seasonal timing) of dormancy loss and germination of A. gerrardii were investigated. Effects of mechanical scarification, hot water treatment (30 s, 1, 2, and 5 min), and concentrated acid scarification (10, 20, and 30 min) on germination percentage and rate (time to 50% germination and final germination) were also examined. Pretreatment with mechanical scarification produced the highest germination in the least time and 20 °C, 40% RH with 12 h of light (2370 Lux) were found to provide the best germination environment. Seeds were rapidly aged at 60% RH and 45 or 50 °C to determine longevity, and the results were analyzed using probit analysis. Times taken for viability of A. gerrardii seeds aged at 45 and 50 °C to fall to 50% (p50) were 38.6 and 9.3 days, respectively, and therefore the seeds can be considered to have medium longevity. Experiments to find the water entry pathway in A. gerrardii indicated that the micropyle region was the primary point of water entry into the seed. Seed burial experiments indicated that though seed retention decreased over time, there was no significant decrease in number of viable seeds after 31 weeks. The findings of this study are important to nursery managers, seed banks, and those involved in conservation and restoration activities.
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