Should seeds respond to their parents’ environments or their own? Leverett et al. hypothesize that germination would respond more strongly to a post-dispersal vegetative canopy than a pre-dispersal canopy, because a seed’s own environment is likely a more accurate predictor of seedling fitness than its parents’ environments. They test their hypothesis in Arabidopsis thaliana.
While a post-dispersal canopy sometimes reduces germination, a pre-dispersal canopy frequently increases germination, prevented induction into secondary dormancy, and reduces germination responses to post-dispersal cues. The effects of a pre-dispersal canopy are stronger in more dormant genotypes. The study explores the mechanisms and hypothetical fitness consequences that attend the masking of post-dispersal plasticity.