Dynamics of Weeds in the Soil Seed Bank: A Hidden Markov Model to Estimate Life History Traits from Standing Plant Time Series

  • Borgy B
  • Reboud X
  • Peyrard N
  • et al.
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Predicting the population dynamics of annual plants is a challenge due to their hidden seed banks in the field. However, such predictions are highly valuable for determining management strategies, specifically in agricultural landscapes. In agroecosystems, most weed seeds sur-vive during unfavourable seasons and persist for several years in the seed bank. This causes difficulties in making accurate predictions of weed population dynamics and life history traits (LHT). Consequently, it is very difficult to identify management strategies that limit both weed populations and species diversity. In this article, we present a method of assessing weed pop-ulation dynamics from both standing plant time series data and an unknown seed bank. We use a Hidden Markov Model (HMM) to obtain estimates of over 3,080 botanical records for three major LHT: seed survival in the soil, plant establishment (including post-emergence mortality), and seed production of 18 common weed species. Maximum likelihood and Bayes-ian approaches were complementarily used to estimate LHT values. The results showed that the LHT provided by the HMM enabled fairly accurate estimates of weed populations in differ-ent crops. There was a positive correlation between estimated germination rates and an index of the specialisation to the crop type (IndVal). The relationships between estimated LHTs and that between the estimated LHTs and the ecological characteristics of weeds pro-vided insights into weed strategies. For example, a common strategy to cope with agricultural practices in several weeds was to produce less seeds and increase germination rates. This knowledge, especially of LHT for each type of crop, should provide valuable information for developing sustainable weed management strategies.




Borgy, B., Reboud, X., Peyrard, N., Sabbadin, R., & Gaba, S. (2015). Dynamics of Weeds in the Soil Seed Bank: A Hidden Markov Model to Estimate Life History Traits from Standing Plant Time Series. PLOS ONE, 10(10), e0139278. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0139278

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