Epiphytes and hemi-epiphytes are important floristic, structural and functional components of tropical rainforests. Their specific responses to light, temperature and water conditions during seed germination allow them to coexist with tropical forest trees. Here we investigated the effects of temperature, red to far-red light ratio (R:FR ratio) and water stress on seed germination of Ficus virens in tropical seasonal rainforest in Southwest China. We used incubators to create required temperature regimes, polyester filters to produce R:FR ratio gradients and mannitol solutions to simulate water stress. It was found that seed germination of F. virens was inhibited in the simulated understory conditions, i.e., at lower temperature (22/23°C), especially when combined with the R:FR ratio of 0.25, for which the germination percentage was less than 20%. In contrast, the seed germination percentages in the simulated canopy environment (22/32°C) showed no significant difference between R:FR ratios, with an average seed germination percentage as high as 65.8%. Seed germination delayed and decreased along with increasing water stress and was completely inhibited at -2.5 MPa, which might suggest that it is a kind of adaptation for F. virens seeds to detect the rainy season as germination chance on the canopy. Therefore, our study revealed the physiological mechanism for F. virens to be able to adapt to canopy environment.
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Vol. 66 • No. 1