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Seed germination conditions and implications for establishment of an epiphyte, Aechmea bracteata (Bromeliaceae)


Aechmea bracteata is a common epiphytic bromeliad found in symbiosis with many other species throughout tropical forests of Mexico and south through Panama. Given its importance and distribution in these forests, we asked how may A. bracteata be restored to areas where they have thrived in the past? We first investigated seed viability and response of seed germination to temperature, humidity, vapour pressure deficit (VPD), and light, under controlled growth chamber conditions. We recorded these environmental conditions within a seasonal tropical forest where this species is common and then conducted seed germination trials in various seral stages. In growth chambers, with constant water supply, highest germination percentages were at the highest temperature and lowest VPD levels. In the field, germination was less than 1%. Because of high temperatures and VPD within early seral stages, efforts to re-introduce A. bracteata into forests <20 years old are not likely to be successful.

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