Introduction

Reproduction is but one part of the larger life cycle of plants and there is no start or finish (Fig. 6.1). We started our discussion of plant life cycles with the process of seed production, although we could very well have started with seed dispersal or germination. In this chapter, we will focus on these three topics as well as the subsequent stages of seedling emergence. We discuss how biotic and abiotic processes affect each of these stages, and how events during one stage will influence the progress of subsequent stages.

© 2003 CAB International. Weed Ecology in Natural a (B.D. Booth, S.D. Murphy and C.J. Swanton)

Seeds are the primary mobile stage of the life cycle. Like the other mobile phase (pollen dispersal), the fate of seeds is dependent on the wind, water or animals that disperse them. Furthermore, because they often contain high levels of nutrients, seeds are a good food source for many animals. In some cases, consumption results in their dispersal to favourable habitats, while in other cases, seeds are destroyed by consumption or end up in hostile environments. Essentially, the seed must find its 'safe site', a set of tolerable or favourable environmental conditions, in order to survive to produce a seedling. Even if seeds survive, the resultant seedlings have nd Agricultural Systems 81

Seed dispersal

Seed production

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