MEPS 200:277-288 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/meps200277

A review of issues in seagrass seed dormancy and germination: implications for conservation and restoration

Robert J. Orth*,**, Matthew C. Harwell, Eva M. Bailey, Aaron Bartholomew, Jennifer T. Jawad, Alfonso V. Lombana, Kenneth A. Moore, Jennifer M. Rhode, Helen E. Woods

Virginia Institute of Marine Science, School of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, Gloucester Point, Virginia 23062, USA
*E-mail: **The order of the 2 primary authors was assigned based on contribution to the manuscript. The remaining authors are arranged alphabetically

ABSTRACT: Seagrasses have received considerable attention over the past 2 decades because of the multiple ecological roles they play in estuarine and coastal ecosystems and concerns over worldwide losses of seagrass habitat due to direct and indirect human impacts. Restoration and conservation efforts are underway in some areas of the world, but progress may be limited by the paucity of information on the role of seeds in bed dynamics. Although flowering occurs in most of the 58 seagrass species, seed germination data exist for only 19 of the 42 species that have some period of dormancy, with only 93 published references to field and/or laboratory studies. This review addresses critical issues in conservation and restoration of seagrasses involving seed dormancy (e.g. environmental vs physiological), existence and type of seed bank (transient or persistent), and factors influencing seed germination (e.g. salinity, temperature, light). Results of many earlier published studies relating seed germination to various environmental factors may need re-examination given more recent published data which show a confounding influence of oxygen level on the germination process. We highlight the importance of conducting ecologically meaningful germination studies, including germination experiments conducted in sediments. We also identify questions for future research that may figure prominently in landscape level questions regarding protected marine or estuarine reserves, habitat fragmentation, and restoration.


KEY WORDS: Seagrasses · Seeds · Dormancy · Seed banks · Germination · Restoration · Conservation


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