Prof Peter Poschlod

University of Regensburg, Germany;;

Title: How seed ecological studies help us to interpret field observations in species distribution and vegetation dynamics.

Abstract: Until recently global plant species distribution patterns were only explained by plant physiological characters like drought or frost resistance of the whole plant or plant organs. Studies on site conditions were used to understand local patterns or species assembly in plant communities. Finally, vegetation dynamics such as successional processes were interpreted applying life and growth form or plant strategy concepts widely ignoring any seed ecological aspects.

In the meantime we know that studies on seed ecological aspects may often help to better explain or interprete certain pattern and processes. In this talk, I will show some examples that large and small scale distribution patterns are related to seed (and pollen – without pollen no seed!) germination requirements and the seed dispersal potential. Both seed ecological aspects but also soil seed bank persistence are correlated to the short- and long-term vegetation dynamics in amphibious and grassland habitats. Finally, observations in long-term conservation and restoration management experiments show a strong correlation to certain seed ecological aspects.


Peter Poschlod studied Biology at the University of Ulm. His diploma thesis was on vegetation and soil dynamics in abandoned limestone quarries. For his dissertation he moved to the Technical University of Munich where he worked on the vegetation dynamics of abandoned peat mined areas. Here, he used for the first time in his research seed ecological characters (related to dispersal, seed bank persistence and germination ecology) to interprete vegetation patterns and successional processes. His habilitation at the University of Hohenheim, therefore, concentrated on soil seed bank persistence in different habitats, how seasonal and long-term soil seed bank patterns are affected by dispersal and germination characteristics of the respective species, and how this trait is related to the threat and rarity of plants.

From 1994 to 2001 he was professor for Nature Conservation at the Philipps University of Marburg. Since 2001 he holds the chair on Ecology and Conservation Biology (formerly Botany) at the Institute of Plant Sciences of the University of Regensburg and is also the director of the Botanical Garden. His research interests cover many aspects in plant population ecology, plant and vegetation ecology, conservation biology and restoration ecology and finally historical ecology. In all these research fields he applies seed ecological and since recently, also pollen ecological research to interpret patterns and processes. From 2009 on, he has established the first seed bank for rare and threatened plants in Germany.

Finally, it might be interesting to know that he is the president of the oldest still existing Botanical Society of the world, the Regensburg Botanical Society which was founded in 1790 and has established the oldest scientific botanical journal, the “Flora”.