Future increased precipitation in cold desert ecosystems may impact annual/ephemeral plant species that germinate in both spring and autumn. Our primary aim was to compare the life history characteristics of plants from spring-germinating (SG) and autumn-germinating (AG) seeds of Erodium oxyrhynchum. Plants in field plots with simulated increases in precipitation of 0, 30 and 50 % in spring and summer were monitored to determine seedling survival, phenology, plant size, seed production and biomass accumulation and allocation. Germination characteristics were determined in the laboratory for seeds produced by plants in all increased precipitation treatments. Increased precipitation in spring significantly improved survival of seedlings from SG and AG seeds, but survival was less for AG than SG. An increase in precipitation increased the number of seeds per plant for both SG and AG, but AG produced more seeds per plant than SG. With increased precipitation, percentage of dormant seeds from SG increased significantly, while that of AG decreased slightly. Our study suggests that with increased spring and summer rainfall AG will produce an increased number of nondormant seeds that could germinate in autumn and SG an increased number of dormant seeds that become part of the soil seed bank. However, ability of some seeds to germinate in autumn and others in spring will be maintained as long as soil moisture is limited in autumn.

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Published in AoB PLANTS, v. 11, issue 2, plz004, p. 1-13.

© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Annals of Botany Company.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Funding Information

Funds for this study were provided by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31570529, 31660162, 31770638, U1503101) and Youth Innovation Promotion Association of Chinese Academy of Sciences (2018477).

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The original data information of figures and tables is available online (https://osf.io/3vndh/).