Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : Seedling emergence techniques provide an estimate of viable seeds in the soil seed bank based on germination of seeds under favourable germination conditions. The present contribution is aimed at studying whether artificial stratification in a cold chamber is capable of revealing more viable seeds in soil samples compared with natural cold-stratification in the soil through a winter period in order to estimate density and composition of soil seed bank in temperate forest ecosystem. A total of 384 soil samples were collected in December and June from permanently marked plots in a forest ecosystem from central Belgium. December samples were artificially stratified (AS) by undergoing a cold-moist stratification, before laying them in the greenhouse. June samples were put in a greenhouse for direct germination of seeds which were naturally stratified (NS). Emerging seedlings were identified and counted during 12 months. A total of 6960 seedlings emerged in the AS samples and 14,928 seedlings in the NS samples, corresponding to 2719 and 5831 seeds/m 2 respectively. A total of 27 species emerged from the AS samples and 19 species from the NS samples. Based on our data in a forest ecosystem with temperate humid climate on loessic materials, artificial stratification allowed the emergence of a larger number of species from the soil seed bank, but natural stratification improved estimates of the seed bank density. We therefore recommend the use of both methods to optimize the estimation of both species number and density in soil seed banks.