Seed germination phenology studies are important tools for determining whether seeds exhibit dormancy and what environmental conditions trigger germination. Within longleaf pine (Pinus palustris Miller) ecosystems of the southeastern United States Coastal Plain, little is known about dormancy patterns and germination cues of the suite of native species composing the diverse fire-maintained ground cover vegetation. We used two methods to determine if several dominant or functionally important herbaceous species were capable of forming a persistent soil seed bank, including: (1) a germination phenology study and (2) a buried seed bag study. Results indicate that within species studied from three common families (Asteraceae, 2 species; Fabaceae, 8 species; and Poaceae, 3 species), species within the Fabaceae family seem most capable of forming long-term persistent seed banks. Although most of the Poaceae and Asteraceae species examined exhibited little dormancy in the germination phenology study, evidence from the buried seed bag study indicates that several species may form transient or even short-term persistent seed banks under favorable conditions. The absence of evidence of persistent seed banking potential for several dominant species examined in this study suggests that seed reintroduction will likely be a necessary component in restoration efforts in longleaf pine ecosystems.
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