, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 423-433

Difference in microhabitat-related regeneration patterns between two subalpine conifers, Tsuga diversifolia and Abies mariesii, on Mount Hayachine, northern Honshu, Japan

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Seedling and tree-establishment microhabitats of Tsuga diversifolia and Abies mariesii were examined on the herb- and dwarf bamboo-dominated forest floor on Mount Hayachine, a mountain under intermediate snow conditions in northern Honshu, Japan. The four microsite types were fallen logs, buttresses, rocks and ground. The ground substratum was further divided into four subtypes by dominant undergrowth species: Lycopodium, Pteridophyllum, Carex and dwarf bamboo. The establishment of T. diversifolia seedlings on the ground was scarce, and depended mostly on non-ground microsites (i.e. fallen logs, buttresses and rocks). The seedling establishment of A. mariesii was not dependent on specific substrata, although on the ground, establishment sites were limited to the Lycopodium subtype situated on convex sites. Among the microhabitats for seedling establishment, larger trees of A. mariesii rarely occurred on higher portions of the non-ground microsites. In contrast, T. diversifolia could grow up to the height of canopy-layer trees in such microsites. Thus, non-ground microsites seem to be unsuitable for tree establishment in A. mariesii, and are probably useful microhabitats for regenerating T. diversifolia to avoid competition with A. mariesii. We also compared seedling-establishment microhabitats for the two conifers between Mount Hayachine and two other mountain regions under different undergrowth conditions (moss-dominated and dense dwarf bamboo-dominated). Our findings suggested that seedling recruitment in non-ground microsites was primarily determined by undergrowth conditions; T. diversifolia preferred such microsites where the moss-covered area was low, and A. mariesii preferred where dwarf bamboo-covered area was high.