, Volume 132, Issue 2, pp 181-195

Effects of natural disturbance on the regeneration of riparian forests in a Chichibu Mountains, central Japan

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Abstract

Disturbances in the riparian area had a large effect on each stage of regeneration in riparian forests dominated by Fraxinus platypoda in the Chichibu Mountains, central Japan. F. platypoda adapted well to various disturbances in frequency and size such as landslides and canopy gap formation.

The spatial distribution and age structure of F. platypoda were studied in relation to the disturbance regime of the riparian zone. The bell-shaped size and age distributions of F. platypoda suggest that F. platypoda trees were established synchronously in a large disturbance site caused by an earthquake landslide about 200 years ago. For the past 200 years, the topography has been stable and the canopy gap has been recovered by advance regenerated saplings.

The distribution of F. platypoda saplings was restricted to an abandoned channel and part of a floodplain. These topographical sites formed by gravel provided safe sites for saplings because stream disturbances did not occur for a long time. Channel bars were under low shade stress because of the lack of herbs and a litter layer, which represents a safe site for seedling establishment. However, the seedling bank could have been destroyed by high frequent flooding caused by large typhoons and the establishment of seedlings might have been prevented for a long time.

The regeneration process of F. platypoda was explicated based on the gap dynamics theory during the stable period of topography. On the other hand, an even-aged forest was established in a large scale disturbance site.

Nomenclature: Ohwi & Kitagawa (1992)