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Scaling of water absorption and water loss by seeds on various soil surfaces was simulated using seed analogues constructed with paper pulp. Three sizes of analogue seeds (large, medium and small) were laid on three types of soil surface (coarse, medium and fine texture). To estimate the amount of water absorbed by a seed during a fixed time interval, the difference in seed weight from the start of the experiment was used. The scaling of water absorption necessary for germination was also studied using actual seeds of 14 species representing a range of seed sizes. Scaling coefficients between the amount of absorbed water by an analogue seed (net water gain) and seed mass were usually lower than 1: small seeds absorbed water more rapidly than large ones. The water loss of analogue seeds was also correlated with seed mass with a scaling coefficient lower than 1, but the amount of water loss itself was far smaller than the absorption. On the other hand, the germination of actual seeds revealed that the amount of water necessary to start germination was proportional to seed mass. Thus, smaller seeds have an advantage over larger seeds in more rapidly attaining the water content necessary for germination. Moreover, small seeds can penetrate through small cracks in the soil surface and thus enjoy a double advantage in a microsite that promotes water absorption and minimizes desiccation.
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