Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 879-901

First online:

Secondary succession and effects of clear-logging on diversity in the subtropical forests on Okinawa Island, southern Japan

  • Yasuhiro KubotaAffiliated withFaculty of Education, Kagoshima University Email author 
  • , Kenji KatsudaAffiliated withFaculty of Education, Kagoshima University
  • , Kihachiro KikuzawaAffiliated withFaculty of Agriculture, Kyoto University

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In order to clarify the recovery process of the subtropical forest on Okinawa Island, southern Japan, biomass accumulation and the successional trend of species diversity with time were investigated by comparing plots of old-growth and clear logged secondary forests. Self-thinning was an important factor in the development of young secondary forests, and the small variance in tree size within a stand was related to the stand not being fully stratified after clear-cutting. A large variance of size structure in old secondary and old-growth forests implies re-initiation of the understorey. Additionally, the trajectory of stand development indicated that the subtropical forest quickly recovered aboveground biomass, which reached its upper limit at about 50 years after disturbance. However, there was a large distinction in species diversity between the secondary forests and old-growth forests. The diversity of forest floor plants did not recover well after being clear-cut. This indicates that management of the subtropical forest should not only take timber-oriented tree species into account, but also the biodiversity in ground flora. The secondary forests were characterized by Castanopsis sieboldii and Schima wallichii, and the monopolization of C. sieboldii through secondary succession had a negative influence on species diversity. Distylium racemosum dominated at the late development stage and was considered a long-lived competing species that reduced the dominance of C. sieboldii and facilitated the co-occurrence of understorey species. Light-demanding pioneer tree species such as S. wallichii that regenerated after logging should be replaced by competitive effects of climax species, and thus relayed floristic change might increase species diversity along secondary succession.


Chronosequence DCA Epiphyte Forest floor plant Pteridophyte Red-listed plants Yanbaru