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Effects of altitudinal gradient on species composition of naturally regenerated trees in Larix kaempferi plantations in central Japan

Nagaike, Takuo
Journal of forest research 2010 v.15 no.1 pp. 65-70
Acer, Castanea crenata, Fagus, Fraxinus, Larix kaempferi, Prunus, altitude, community structure, ecological restoration, forest stands, forest types, planning, plantations, secondary forests, species diversity, trees, Japan
Species composition and community structure of naturally regenerated trees in Larix kaempferi plantations and natural forests were compared in relation to altitudinal gradient. Fifty-nine L. kaempferi plantations and 26 natural forest stands including old-growth and secondary forests were selected from 1300 to 2000 m a.s.l. in Mt Kushigata of central Japan. Vegetation plots (10 × 10 m) were established in each stand (85 plots in total). Species composition differed significantly between forest types, particularly on high altitude plots. Some species were significantly biased to natural forests, while no species were biased to plantations. Although some species that responded significantly to altitude were common to both forest types (e.g., Acer ukurunduese, Castanea crenata, and Fraxinus lanuginose f. serrata), some differed between forest types (e.g., Fagus japonica, Prunus maximowiczii, and P. nipponica). Thus, plantation management altered species responses to altitude. Altitude should be considered when planning and carrying out forest ecological restoration in plantations, because species composition of naturally regenerated trees has already been changed by past plantation management. In particular, attention should be paid to ecological restoration at high altitude.