Distinct germination response of endangered and common arable weeds to reduced water potential.
Arable weeds are one of the most endangered species groups in Europe. Modern agriculture and intensive land-use management are the main causes of their dramatic decline. However, besides the changes in land use, climate change may further challenge the adaptability of arable weeds. Therefore, we investigated the response pattern of arable weeds to different water potential and temperature regimes during the phase of germination. We expected that endangered arable weeds would be more sensitive to differences in water availability and temperature than common arable weeds. To this end, we set up a climate chamber experiment where we exposed seeds of five familial pairs of common and endangered arable weed species to different temperatures (5/15, 10/20°C) and water potentials (0.0 to -1.2 MPa). The results revealed a significant relationship between the reaction of arable weed species to water availability and their Red List status. The effects of reduced water availability on total germination, mean germination time and synchrony were significantly stronger in endangered than in common arable weeds. Therefore, global climate change may present a further threat to the survival of endangered arable weed species.