Seed dormancy and germination traits of 89 arid zone species targeted for mine-site restoration in the Pilbara region of Western Australia

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[Truncated] Across the globe, recognition and prioritisation of restoration ecology as a rapidly growing scientific field has never been more important to ensure we can implement large-scale and cost-effective restoration of biodiverse plant communities in a cost efficient manner. With this, re-establishing plant cover of framework species that stabilise degraded sites is one key method currently implemented to contribute to landscape scale restoration in arid systems. Yet, for regions such as the Pilbara in the northwest of Australia, rapid expansion of the mining sector has led to an unprecedented level of land clearing. To date, the current vegetation clearance for resource development in the region exceeds 120,000 ha and restoration attempts fail to reinstate the desired levels of plant diversity and vegetation cover at the scale and pace to meet the degrading influences.

Given that less than 10% of sown seed results in an establishment event, considerable effort needs to be placed on understanding the reasons behind these establishment shortfalls. This study focussed on seed dormancy and germination traits as a key limiting step in the chain of seed-use, embracing the understanding that seed dormancy is a major impediment to restoration efforts, and any improvement in the quality and germination potential of a seed batch prior to sowing will provide a higher likelihood of restoration success.

Therefore three core themes in this thesis were investigated: (1) a Pilbara-wide classification of seed dormancy and an assessment of the influence of temperature and chemical stimulants on germination patterns, (2) optimisation of dry afterripening (DAR) methods for seeds of a key framework genus, Triodia, with direct comparisons of physiological dormancy alleviation for florets versus seeds, and (3) the effects of wet and dry heat treatments on physical dormancy alleviation and germination of seeds from the Fabaceae and Malvaceae families.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
StateUnpublished - Aug 2015


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