Original Article

Ecological Research

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 287-296

First online:

Pattern of changes in species diversity, structure and dynamics of forest ecosystems along latitudinal gradients in East Asia

  • Masaaki TakyuAffiliated withTokyo University of Agriculture Email author 
  • , Yasuhiro KubotaAffiliated withFaculty of Education, Kagoshima University
  • , Shin-ichiro AibaAffiliated withFaculty of Science, Kagoshima University
  • , Tatsuyuki SeinoAffiliated withCenter for Ecological Research, Kyoto University
  • , Takashi NishimuraAffiliated withYokohama Institute for Earth Sciences

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We examined effects of seasonality of climate and dominant life form (evergreen/deciduous, broad-leaf/coniferous) together with energy condition on species diversity, forest structure, forest dynamics, and productivity of forest ecosystems by comparing the patterns of changes in these ecosystem attributes along altitudinal gradients in tropical regions without seasonality and along a latitudinal gradient from tropical to temperate regions in humid East Asia. We used warmth index (temperature sum during growing season, WI) as an index of energy condition common to both altitudinal and latitudinal gradients. There were apparent differences in patterns of changes in the ecosystem attributes in relation to WI among four forest formations that were classified according to dominant life form and climatic zone (tropical/temperate). Many of the ecosystem attributes—Fisher’s alpha of species-diversity indices, maximum tree height and stem density, productivity [increment rate of aboveground biomass (AGB)], and population and biomass turnover rates—changed sharply with WI in tropical and temperate evergreen broad-leaved forests, but did not change linearly or changed only loosely with WI in temperate deciduous broad-leaved and evergreen coniferous forests. Values of these ecosystem attributes in temperate deciduous broad-leaved and evergreen coniferous forests were higher (stem density was lower) than those in tropical and temperate evergreen broad-leaved forests under colder conditions (WI below 100°C). Present results indicate that seasonality of climate and resultant change in dominant life form work to buffer the effects of energy reduction on ecosystem attributes along latitudinal gradients.


Species diversity Aboveground net primary productivity Forest dynamics Forest structure Latitude