, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 156-161

Regeneration and coexistence of two Abies species dominating subalpine forests in central Japan

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Summary

The mechanism of coexistence of the dominant firs Abies veitchii and A. mariesii is described in relation to regeneration patterns for climax subalpine forests of the northern Yatsugatake Mountains, central Honshu, Japan. Two mature stand types, pure conifer stands of Abies spp., and mixed stands of Abies spp. and hardwoods (mainly the birch Betula ermanii), are distinguished. Pure stands are likely to show simultaneous decay, followed by evenaged regeneration of stand-floor seedlings (<20 cm tall), Rapidly growing A. veitchii dominates over A. mariesii in this type of regeneration, which is occasionally invaded by light-demanding Betula. In constrast, mixed stands degenerate rather slowly, followed by the regeneration of Abies from the bank of suppressed saplings (>20 cm tall), which persist only in mixed stands. The more shade-tolerant A. mariesii is supeior in this type of regeneration, while Betula does not succeed, and mixed stands change to pure stands with time. The fact that two patterns of Abies regeneration occur in a certain ratio in the forest is what enables the two Abies species to coexist. A simple dynamical system model supports this conclusion.