Ecological Research

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 71–81

Effects of forest-floor avalanche disturbance on the structure and dynamics of a subalpine forest near the forest limit on Mt. Fuji

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11284-007-0340-9

Cite this article as:
Tanaka, A., Yamamura, Y. & Nakano, T. Ecol Res (2008) 23: 71. doi:10.1007/s11284-007-0340-9


In subalpine forests near the forest limit on Mt. Fuji in central Japan, slush avalanches occasionally destroy forest-floor vegetation through an influx of volcanic gravel from bare upper sites. The vegetation structure of Larix kaempferiAbies veitchii forests near and distant from avalanche paths was investigated to determine the effects of forest-floor disturbance on successional processes. The Larix population in a forest near an avalanche path, where there had been signs of forest-floor disturbance by avalanches, had a discontinuous age structure with three age groups, indicating that Larix seedlings established under the Larix canopy after the forest-floor disturbance. In contrast, the Larix population in a forest distant from avalanche paths, where there had been no forest-floor disturbance, had a continuous age structure, with no plants younger than the 90-year-old trees, indicating that this population had established on bare ground over a long period. These data suggest that the primary requirement for the regeneration of L. kaempferi on the forest floor is a mineral substrate. Conversely, A. veitchii had a continuous age structure in both forests. However, forest-floor disturbances by avalanche(s) may exclude A. veitchii from the forest because A. veitchii is very sensitive to scoria deposition. In conclusion, forest-floor disturbance by avalanche(s) provides L. kaempferi with an opportunity to establish on the forest floor, resulting in the maintenance of Larix forests alongside avalanche paths in the upper subalpine area on Mt. Fuji.


Abies veitchii Age structure Forest-floor disturbance Larix kaempferi Succession 

Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Atsushi Tanaka
    • 1
  • Yasuo Yamamura
    • 1
  • Takashi Nakano
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Ecology, Faculty of ScienceIbaraki UniversityMitoJapan
  2. 2.Natural Environmental Research DivisionYamanashi Institute of Environmental SciencesFujiyoshidaJapan