, Volume 117, Issue 1, pp 51-60

Structure and regeneration of canopy species in an old-growth evergreen broad-leaved forest in Aya district, southwestern Japan

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The population structure and regeneration of canopy species were studied in a 4 ha plot in an old-growth evergreen broad-leaved forest in the Aya district of southwestern Japan. The 200 m × 200 m plot contained 50 tree species, including 22 canopy species, 3,904 trees (dbh≥5 cm) and a total basal area of 48.3 m2/ha. Forty one gaps occurred within the plot, and both the average gap size (67.3 m2) and the total area of gap to plot area (6.9%) were small. Species found in the canopy in the plot were divided into three groups (A, B, C) based on size and spatial distribution patterns, and density in each tree size. Group A (typical species: Distylium racemosum, Persea japonica) showed a high density, nearly random distribution and an inverse J-shaped size distribution. Species in group B (Quercus salicina, Quercus acuta, Quercus gilva) were distributed contagiously with conspicuous concentration of small trees (<5 cm dbh) around gaps. However, the species in this group included few trees likely to reach the canopy in the near future. Group C included fast-growing pioneer and shade intolerant species (e.g. Cornus controversa, Carpinus tschonoskii, Fagara ailanthoides), which formed large clumps. Most gaps were not characterized by successful regeneration of group B and C but did appear to accelerate the growth of group A. Group B species appear to require long-lived or large gaps while group C species require large, catastrophic disturbances, such as landslides, for regeneration.