, Volume 145, Issue 2, pp 281-290

Suppression and release during canopy recruitment in Fagus crenata and Acer mono in two old-growth beech forests in Japan

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Abstract

Beech forests occur widely in the mountains on the main island of Japan. Wind storm is the major regime that causes canopy disturbances in these forests. Fagus crenata Blume is a dominant, and Acer mono Maxim., also a canopy species, co-occurs in these forests. It has been suggested that A. mono is less shade-tolerant than F. crenata. Using dendrochronological data, this study describes suppression and release histories during canopy recruitment for these two species in two old-growth beech forests (at Takahara and Kaname) and provides support for the shade tolerance suggestion given above. In addition, disturbance histories over the past 130 or 160 yr in the two forests have been reconstructed. At Takahara, the forest experienced more frequent wind storms, was about 10–15 m shorter and less dense than that at Kaname. Kaname is in a heavy snow region. On average, F. crenata experienced 1.4 and 2.5 definable episodes of suppression during canopy recruitment at Takahara and Kaname, respectively. At Kaname, the average length of total suppression was 66 yr, and 34 yr at Takahara. On average, at final release, the beech trees had a diameter of 25 cm and an age of about 125 yr old, which were twice as large and twice as old as those at Takahara. In contrast, at the two sites, A. mono experienced similar average numbers of episodes (1.6 episodes at Takahara and 1.8 episodes at Kaname) and similar average length of total suppression (37 yr at Takahara and 30 yr at Kaname) during canopy recruitment. At both sites, at final release, the maple had an average diameter of about 18 cm and an average age of some 70 yr. Our results have revealed that F. crenata is able to be tolerant of a longer shade suppression than A. mono. At Kaname, the canopy disturbances deduced from tree-ring data were more intense or frequent than those at Takahara, This contrasted with occurrences of wind storms at the two sites.