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Effects of life history strategies and tree competition on species coexistence in a sub-boreal coniferous forest of Japan

Nishimura, Naoyuki, Kato, Kyoko, Sumida, Akihiro, Ono, Kiyomi, Tanouchi, Hiroyuki, Iida, Shigeo, Hoshino, Daisuke, Yamamoto, Shin-Ichi, Hara, Toshihiko
Plant ecology 2010 v.206 no.1 pp. 29-40
Abies sachalinensis, Picea glehnii, Picea jezoensis, canopy gaps, developmental stages, forests, life history, stems, trees, understory, Japan
We examined the effects of different life history strategies and tree competition on species coexistence in a northern coniferous forest. We investigated the growth and demography of trees with stems ≥1 cm dbh in a 2-ha study plot in the Taisetsu Mountains of northern Japan. Three species, Abies sachalinensis, Picea jezoensis, and Picea glehnii, were found to be dominant in the forest. A. sachalinensis was the most dominant species in the understory, while the two Picea spp. were more abundant in the larger dbh size classes. The turnover rate of A. sachalinensis was about twice that of the Picea spp. The relative growth rate of understory trees in each species did not differ between different canopy conditions (closed canopy or canopy gap). The competitive advantage between A. sachalinensis and P. glehnii switched as they grew from understory (A. sachalinensis superior competitor) to canopy trees (P. glehnii superior competitor). Meanwhile, A. sachalinensis and P. jezoensis exhibited different environmental preferences. We propose that reversal in competitive superiority between different growth stages and trade-off between longevity and turnover are more important factors to promote their coexistence than regeneration niche differentiation related to canopy gaps in this sub-boreal coniferous forest.