Germination behavior is one of the earliest phenotypes expressed by plants. This fact has several consequences for the evolution of postgermination traits, ecological niches, and geographic ranges. By determining the conditions that plants experience after they germinate, germination influences phenotypic expression of postgermination traits, natural selection on them, and their genetic basis. The breadth of germination niches may influence the ecological breadth and geographic ranges of species. Because germination is expressed early, it is frequently subjected to natural selection before other traits are expressed. We review evidence for natural selection on and adaptation of germination and discuss how the breadth of the germination niche is associated with the ecological niche and range of plant species. We review evidence for the coevolution of germination and postgermination traits and compare germination to postgermination niches. Finally, we discuss how germination responses to altered environments can influence species distribution and the evolution of postgermination traits after environmental change.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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