Tozzi, E., Lyons, E. M. and Van Acker, R. C. 2014. The effect of simulated winter warming spells on Canada fleabane [Conyza canadensis (L.) Cronq. var. canadensis] seeds and plants. Can. J. Plant Sci. 94: 963-969. Experiments were establish at three sites in southern Ontario, Canada in 2009 and 2010 to determine the possible effect of winter warming spells applied in either January, February or March on seed, seedlings, or rosettes of Canada fleabane including effects on winter survival, fecundity, above-ground biomass, and flowering timing. Warming spells reduced survival of fall-established rosettes and fall established seedlings. Warming spells occurring late in winter (March) had a greater effect where March warming spells reduced the survival of rosettes and seedlings on average by 53% and 80%, respectively. In addition, overwintering Canada fleabane plants (rosettes or seedlings) exposed to warming spells flowered earlier (between 29 and 71 days earlier). This study also confirms that Canada fleabane seed has little or no dormancy and that the great majority of seed recruits (either in fall or spring) within a given season (between 84% and 93%). We also determined that timing of seed shed in the fall significantly affects the proportion of seedlings emerging either in the spring or fall with late shed favoring seed overwintering and spring seedling emergence. The results of this study suggest that winter warming spells, especially later in the winter (into early spring), may limit the success of Canada fleabane and in particular its success as a winter annual.
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