While sexual regeneration of plants after disturbance and the role of seed banks have been intensively studied since the time of Darwin, the role of vegetative regeneration and the bud bank has received relatively little attention until recent times. Harper (1977), who introduced the term bud bank, defined seed and bud banks as hidden populations of dormant seeds and meristems, respectively, which differ from established vegetation in species composition and by the number of individuals.
The principles that unify bud bank functioning across habitats and growth forms are: (1) the bud banks consist of all buds which may be used for vegetative regeneration, including those formed adventitiously only after injury; (2) vertical distribution of buds reflects avoidance of disturbance; (3) seasonal changes in the bud bank make vegetative regeneration sensitive to timing of disturbance; and (4) ability to form adventitious buds provides a potential for vegetative regeneration from roots, stumps and leaves. Based on these principles a simple classification of bud banks is possible similar to the classification of seed banks. The concept of bud banks may be widely used in studies focusing on plant functional traits in relation to disturbance regimes at the levels of plant individuals, populations and communities.
Simple tools for excavating plants and washing belowground organs. For direct count of dormant buds samples in the field can be fixed in FAA and in the laboratory counted under stereomicroscope.
The classification of bud banks includes two levels of seasonality (seasonal and perennial) and two levels of vertical distribution (above- and below-ground), resulting in four categories. Moreover, each of them can be combined with the potential bud bank (adventitious sprouting) and the potential bud bank needs not be associated with other types of bud banks. A plant population may develop one or several types of bud bank depending on its growth form, plasticity and disturbance severity and timing. Bud bank type can be assessed using determination of clonal growth organs, see Clonal growth architecture, number of buds on particular organs can be directly counted or estimated according to number of leaves, leaf scales or leaf traces (as one bud is usually formed in an axil of a leaf).
Fig. 1– Examples of clonal growth organs and relevant bud bank types
Notes and troubleshooting tips
Difficulties can be met when evaluating woody plants as secondary thickening leaf scars are not protected. Adventitious buds can be formed only after injury and counts can underestimate the ability of a plant to resprout from bud bank
Links to resources and suppliers
See classification of bud banks for central European plants in the CLO PLA database
Fidelis A., Muller S.C., Pillar V.D., Pfadenhauer J. (2010) Population biology and regeneration of forbs and shrubs after fire in Brazilian Campos grasslands. Plant Ecology 211: 107-117
Klimešová J., Klimeš L. (2007) Bud banks and their role in vegetative regeneration – a literature review and proposal for simple classification and assessment. Perspect. Plant Ecol. 8: 115-129.
Klimešová J., Klimeš L. (2003) Resprouting of herbs in disturbed habitats: is it adequately described by the Bellingham-Sparrow’s model Oikos 103: 225-229.