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Refoliation of deciduous canopy trees following severe insect defoliation: comparison of Fagus crenata and Quercus crispula

Nakajima, Haruki
Plant ecology 2018 v.219 no.6 pp. 665-675
Fagus crenata, Quercus mongolica, biomass, canopy, defoliation, forest ecosystems, interspecific variation, leaves, metabolism, phytophagous insects, regression analysis, regrowth, saplings, understory, Japan
Deciduous trees can survive severe defoliation by herbivores and often refoliate in the same season. Refoliation following severe defoliation represents compensatory regrowth to recover foliage biomass. Although the relationship between defoliation intensity and degree of refoliation at the individual level has been quantified following artificial defoliation for saplings and small trees, no study has examined the relationship for canopy trees and interspecific differences in this relationship. In this study, defoliation by gypsy moths in an outbreak year and subsequent refoliation were visually surveyed for canopy trees of Fagus crenata (n = 80) and Quercus crispula (n = 113) in central Japan. Defoliation and refoliation estimates were scored in 10% classes as the ratio to foliage present before defoliation. The degree of refoliation and the proportion of refoliated trees were high in severely defoliated trees. For 60 and 100% defoliated trees, respective refoliations were 2 and 66% for F. crenata, and 37 and 88% for Q. crispula. All of the 90 and 100% defoliated trees refoliated. These results indicate that severely defoliated trees show an increased need for refoliation to maintain metabolism. Beta regression analysis showed that Q. crispula possessed higher refoliation capability than F. crenata. This is likely associated with the relatively large storage reserves and recurrent growth flush pattern of oak species, which are strong characteristics of oaks and adaptive for response to herbivory and catastrophic disturbances. Interspecific differences in refoliation capability may exert differential effects on forest ecosystem processes, such as influencing the growth of understory species.