Effects of salinity and temperature on seed germination and seedling establishment in the endangered seagrass Zostera japonica Asch. & Graebn. in northern China.

Affiliation

CAS Key Laboratory of Marine Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao 266071, China; Laboratory for Marine Ecology and Environmental Science, Qingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and Technology, Qingdao 266237, China; Center for Ocean Mega-Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Qingdao 266071, China. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Seagrass meadows are recognized as critical and among the most vulnerable habitats on the planet. As a worldwide concern, there is an urgent need to develop techniques to restore and preserve these vital coastal ecosystems due to their alarming decline rate. To effectively preserve and restore seagrasses, more research is required on the germination ecology of seeds. The seagrass Zostera japonica Asch. & Graebn is an endangered species in its native range, the Northwestern Pacific Coast. The present study investigated the germination and seedling establishment in Z. japonica seeds (collected from northern China) under different temperature and salinity conditions to explore suitable seed germination and establishment conditions, as well as the seedling formation process. Results showed that salinity had a more significant influence on seed germination rate. Germination rate decreased with an increase in salinity, and seeds did not germinate when salinity was higher than 40 psu. Temperature was more likely to influence germination speed, which increased with an increase in temperature, with high germination rates and the most rapid germination speed observed at 30 °C. Therefore, the optimal culture conditions were 10 psu salinity at 30 °C for germination and 10-20 psu salinity at 20 °C for seedling establishment, with a seed germination rate of 45.6% after 6 days of germination culture and a seedling establishment rate of 14.3% after 6 days of seedling culture, respectively. A new seedling raising method with low salinity (5 psu) germination and high salinity (20 psu) seedling establishment was proposed and a flow chart of seedling formation of Z. japonica was created. The results provide insight into the seed germination and seedling establishment in Z. japonica, and will facilitate future large-scale seedling culture and field restoration activities for this seagrass species.

Keywords

Restoration,Salinity,Seagrass,Seed germination,Seedling establishment,Temperature,Zostera japonica,

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