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In laboratory germination studies with 15 collections ofAtriplex confertifolia, a dominant shrub of North American salt deserts, we found that seeds were dormant and largely unresponsive to chilling at dispersal but became chilling-responsive through dry after-ripening. Collections from warm desert habitats were more chilling-responsive and after-ripened more rapidly than those from cold desert habitats. In a field seed bank experiment, germination did not take place until the second spring, and 30% of the seeds remained viable and ungerminated after five springs. Cold desert collections showed highest seed bank carryover. Spring germination and seed bank carryover across years are important aspects of shadscale...