Seed germination of Pinus koraiensis in response to light regimes caused by shading and seed positions
Pinus koraiensis Siebold & Zucc. (Korean pine), the dominant tree species in the mixed broadleaved Korean pine forests (regional climax), is severely restricted by its regeneration failure. To determine the effects of light regimes on P. koraiensis regeneration, the seed germination process was examined in shade houses and forest stands (before and after leaf expansion) with various light levels created by shading and seed positions. Despite the large size of P. koraiensis seeds (500-600 mg), both light intensity and quality significantly affected the germination percentage in both shade houses and forests. Substantial changes in light intensity and quality led the majority of seeds (80%) to germinate in leafless forests and shade houses, while only a minority (≤ 20%) germinated after leaf expansion in the forests. Moreover, seed germination in shade houses and leafless forests exhibited similar patterns; they consistently reached a 70% shading degree, which was optimal for the seed germination of P. koraiensis on topsoil. Seed positioning significantly affected germination for each shading degree, especially when litter and soil coverings drastically inhibited germination. In conclusion, (1) when seeds were not stressed by temperature and moisture, light irradiance played a critical role in the seed germination of P. koraiensis; (2) seed positioning, in relation to alterations in light intensity and quality, affected the germination of P. koraiensis; (3) a shade house experiment using neutral cloth provided an applicable and controllable way to monitor the P. koraiensis seed germination in early spring before leaf expansion. The light requirement for the germination of P. koraiensis played a key role in the regeneration of P. koraiensis throughout the temperate secondary forests.
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