Chinese researchers set up global database of soil seed banks

Chinese researchers have compiled and analyzed a database to characterize global determinants and patterns of soil seed banks.

Soil seed banks, which include all viable seeds on or in the soil, represent a critical but hidden stock for potential future plant diversity on Earth. They are vital for the long-term survival of individual plant species and the diversity and dynamics of plant communities.

In the dataset established by researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), 15,698 records of species diversity and density for soil seed banks in natural plant communities worldwide have been compiled.

Roots of a tree in a tropical rainforest in south China’s Hainan Province. (Xinhua/Pu Xiaoxu)

Random forest models showed that absolute latitude was an important predictor for the diversity of soil seed banks. Climate and soil were the major determinants of seed bank diversity, while net primary productivity and soil characteristics were the main predictors of seed bank density, according to the research article published in the journal Nature Communications.

Moreover, the global map for predicting distribution revealed clear spatial patterns for soil seed banks worldwide. The low density of soil seed banks in species-rich low latitude biomes (such as tropical rainforest areas) leads to less resilience to natural and human disturbances.

The study revealed that the diversity and density of soil seed banks in high latitude frigid zones are generally higher than those in low latitude tropical zones on a global scale, said Huang Zhenying, leader of the research team with the Institute of Botany, CAS.

He added that the study also provided evidence of how environmental conditions shape the distribution of soil seed banks, which enables a more accurate prediction of the resilience and vulnerabilities of plant communities and biomes under global changes.

SOURCE: Insitute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 16-Dec-2021. http://english.ib.cas.cn/News/Events/202112/t20211216_294077.html

Soil seed banks a hidden stock for potential future plant diversity on Earth

Global patterns of potential future plant diversity hidden in soil seed banks

Soil seed banks are vital for the long-term survival of individual plant species and the diversity and dynamics of plant communities1. Thereby, they represent a critical but hidden stock for potential future plant diversity on Earth. Seed banks, which include all viable seeds on or in the soil, vary spatially and temporally2. Ecological and evolutionary theory recognizes seed banks as ‘biodiversity reservoirs’. Indeed, seed banks support population persistence and biodiversity maintenance through temporal storage effects3 and increasing the gene pool4, thereby maintaining a diverse but hidden species pool belowground that hedges against risk of environmental change3. Further, seed banks can affect the potential rate and even direction of evolutionary change because they increase the mean generation times of populations5,6. Therefore, clarifying the functions of seed banks in community and population dynamics is a key challenge for understanding basic ecological patterns and processes7.

Read full paper in Nature https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-27379-1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.