, Volume 57, Issue 1, pp 15–52 | Cite as

Differentiation of vegetation zones and species strategies in the subalpine region of Mt. Fuji

  • Masahiko Ohsawa


The floristic and structural differentiation of vegetation along the altitudinal gradient in four subalpine forests of different developmental stages on Mt. Fuji has been studied. Near the forest limit a micropattern of vegetation corresponding to the altitudinal zonation has been observed which elucidated the mechanisms of development of the vegetation zonation.

As to early stages of vegetation development only two types can be distinguished: the volcanic desert above 1500 m and the pioneer forests below. As to later stages a differentiation of subzones includes from higher to lower altitudes: the Alnus maximowiczii, Betula ermanii, Abies veitchii and Tsuga diversifolia forests. Larix leptolepis and Sorbus americana ssp. japonica, appear as co-dominants in ecotonal communities between the principal subzones and are also important pioneers in early stages. Similarity analyses reveal that the upper subalpine Alnus-Betula forests can be regarded as early successional phases of the climax Abies-Tsuga forests of the lower subalpine zone.

The regular arrangement of A. maximowiczii-B. ermanii-A. veitchii is studied along the gradient from the margin to the interior of the forest growing near the forest limit where locally favourable conditions prevail. Growth form, height growth, photosynthetic activity, seed supply, and seedling distribution of the three principal species have been compared, as well as biomass and production relations in contiguous forests of these species. The marginal Alnus type community is productive and disturbance-tolerant, and has a wide ecological and sociological amplitude along the gradient, while the central Abies community is accumulative and disturbance-intolerant, and has a narrower tolerance range, but is superior in competition under stable habitat conditions. A vegetation organization, ‘temporal multi-storeyed structure’, is suggested which means that a zonal pattern of vegetation within a climax region develops by successive replacement of successional species along an environmental gradient.


Altitudinal zonation Differentiation of vegetation Forest limit Japan Mt. Fuji Pattern Species strategies Structure Succession 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arno, S. F. & Habeck, J. R., 1972. Ecology of alpine larch (Larix lyallii Parl.) in the Pacific Northwest. Ecol. Monogr. 42: 417–450.Google Scholar
  2. Auclair, A. N. & Cottam, G., 1971. Dynamics of black cherry (Prunus serotina Erhr.) in southern Wisconsin oak forests. Ecol. Monogr. 41: 153–177.Google Scholar
  3. Bazzaz, F. A., 1979. The physiological ecology of plant succession. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 10: 351–371.Google Scholar
  4. Beals, E. W., 1969. Vegetation change along altitudinal gradients. Science 165: 981–985.Google Scholar
  5. Bliss, L. C., 1969. Alpine community pattern in relation to environmental parameters. In: K. N. H. Greenidge (ed.), Essays in Plant Geography and Ecology, pp. 167–184. The Nova Scotia Museum. Halifax.Google Scholar
  6. Bormann, F. H. & Likens, G. E., 1979. Pattern and Process in a Forested Ecosystem. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  7. Braun, E. Lucy, 1935. The undifferentiated deciduous forest climax and the association-segregate. Ecology 16: 514–519.Google Scholar
  8. Bray, J. R. & Curtis, J. T., 1957. An ordination of the upland forest communities of southern Wisconsin. Ecol. Monogr. 27: 325–349.Google Scholar
  9. Bray, J. R. & Gorham, E., 1964. Litter production in forests of the world. Adv. Ecol. Res. 2: 101–158.Google Scholar
  10. Cheke, A. S., Nanakorn, W. & Yankoses, C., 1979. Dormancy and dispersal of seeds of secondary forest species under the canopy of primary tropical rain forest in northern Thailand. Biotropica 11: 88–95.Google Scholar
  11. Clements, F. E., 1916. Plant Succession. Carnegie Inst. Wash., Publ. 242.Google Scholar
  12. Clements, F. E., 1936. Nature and structure of the climax. J. Ecol. 24: 252–284.Google Scholar
  13. Coetzee, J. A., 1978. Phytogeographical aspects of the montane forests of the chain of mountains on the eastern side of Africa. In: C. Troll & W. Lauer (eds.), Geoecological Relations between the Southern Temperate Zone and the Tropical Mountains, pp. 482–494. Franz Steiner Verlag GMBH, Wiesbaden.Google Scholar
  14. Colinvaux, P. A., 1967. Bering land bridge: evidence of spruce in Late-Wisconsin times. Science 156: 380–383.Google Scholar
  15. Cowles, H. C., 1926. The succession point of view in floristics. Proc. Int. Congress Plant Sci. 687–691.Google Scholar
  16. Daubenmire, R., 1966. Vegetation: identification of typical communities. Science 151: 291–298.Google Scholar
  17. Forcier, L. K., 1975. Reproductive strategies and the co-occurrence of climax tree species. Science 189: 808–810.Google Scholar
  18. Franklin, J. F. & Dyrness, C. T., 1969. Vegetation of Oregon and Washington. U.S.A.D. For. Res. Paper PNW-80.Google Scholar
  19. Grubb, P. J., 1971. Interpretation of the ‘Massenerhebung’ effect on tropical mountains. Nature 229: 44–45.Google Scholar
  20. Hamilton, A. C., 1974. Distribution patterns of forest trees in Uganda and their historical significance. Vegetatio 29: 21–35.Google Scholar
  21. Hurd, R. M., 1971. Annual tree-litter production by successional forest stands, Juneau, Alaska. Ecology 52: 881–884.Google Scholar
  22. Huzimura, I., 1971. The climate and weather of Mt. Fuji. in: H. Tsuya et al. (eds.), Rep. of the Scientific Survey of Mt. Fuji. pp. 211–345. Fuji-Kyu., Tokyo.Google Scholar
  23. Kimura, M., 1963. Dynamics of vegetation in relation to soil development in northern Yatsugatake Mountains. Jap. J. Bot. 18: 225–287.Google Scholar
  24. Kira, T. & Shidei, T., 1967. Primary production and turnover of organic matter in different forest ecosystems of the western Pacific. Jap. J. Ecol. 17: 70–87.Google Scholar
  25. Kitamura, S. et al., 1957–1979. coloured illustrations of herbaceous plants of Japan. I–III, Coloured illustrations of woody plants of Japan. I–II. Hoikusha, Osaka.Google Scholar
  26. Klikoff, L. G., 1965. Microenvironmental influence on vegetational pattern near timberline in the central Sierra Nevada. Ecol. Monogr. 35: 187–211.Google Scholar
  27. Kuramoto, R. T. & Bliss, L. C., 1970. Ecology of subalpine meadows in the Olympic Mountains, Washington. Ecol. Monogr. 40: 317–347.Google Scholar
  28. Leeuwen, C. G. van., 1966. A relation theoretical approach to pattern and process in vegetation. Wentia 15: 25–46.Google Scholar
  29. Lloyd, M., Karr, J. H. & Karr, J. R., 1968. On the calculation of information theoretical measures of diversity. Am. Midl. Nat. 79: 257–272.Google Scholar
  30. Maarel, E. van der, 1976. On the establishment of plant community boundaries. Ber. Dt. Bot. Ges. 89: 415–443.Google Scholar
  31. MacArthur, R. H. & Wilson, E. O., 1967. The Theory of Island Biogeography. Princeton University Press, Princeton.Google Scholar
  32. Maeda, T., Miyakawa, K, Miyazaki, N. & Terashi, K., 1976. Subalpine forest vegetation on Mt. Fuji and revegetation on the destroyed stands caused by road construction. In: H. Usui (ed.), Papers on Forest Ecology for the Honor of Prof. Suzuki, pp. 77–132. Norin Shuppan, Tokyo.Google Scholar
  33. Margalef, R., 1958. Temporal succession and spatial heterogeneity in phytoplankton. In: Perspectives in Marin Biology, pp. 323–349.Google Scholar
  34. Marks, P. L., 1974. The role of pincherry (Prunus pensylvanica L.) in the maintenance of stability in northern hardwood ecosystems. Ecol. Monogr. 44: 73–88.Google Scholar
  35. Marks, P. L. & Bormann, F. H., 1972. Revegetation following cutting: mechanisms for return to steady-state nutrient cycling. Science 176: 914–915.Google Scholar
  36. Mikeladze, D. M., 1965. Contributions to the study of the alpine carpets of southern Ossetia. In: V. N. Sukachev (ed.), Studies on the Flora and Vegetation of High-Mountain Areas, pp. 178–190. Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem.Google Scholar
  37. Mitchell, W. W., 1968. On the ecology of Sitka Alder in subalpine zone of south-central Alaska. In: Trappe et al. (eds.), Biology of Alder, pp. 45–56. Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, Portland.Google Scholar
  38. Miyawaki, A., 1971. Vegetation of Mt. Fuji. In: H. Tsuya et al. (eds.), Rep. of the Scientific Survey of Mt. Fuji, pp. 665–721. Fuji-kyu, Tokyo.Google Scholar
  39. Moral, R. del, 1973. The vegetation of Findley Lake Basin, Am. Midl. Nat. 89: 26–40.Google Scholar
  40. Numata, M., 1966. Vegetation and conservation in eastern Nepal. J. College of Arts and Science, Chiba Univ. 4(4): 559–569.Google Scholar
  41. Numata, M. (ed.), 1971. Ecological studies in vegetation of Mt. Fuji. In: H. Tsuya et al. (eds.), Rep. of the Scientific Survey of Mt. Fuji, pp. 347–721. Fuji-kyu, Tokyo.Google Scholar
  42. Numata, M., 1972. Ecological interpretation of vegetational zonation of high mountains, particularly in Japan and Taiwan. In: C. Troll (ed.), Landschaftökologie der Hochgebirge Eurasiens, pp. 288–299. Franz Steiner, Wiesbaden.Google Scholar
  43. Numata, M., 1979. Facts, causal analysis, and theoretical considerations on plant succession. In: A. Miyawaki & S. Okuda (eds.), Vegetation und Landschaft Japans, pp. 71–91.Google Scholar
  44. Numata, M., Hayashi, I., Komura, T. & Oki, K., 1964. Ecological studies on the buried-seeds population in the soil as related to plant succession I. Jap. J. Ecol. 14: 207–215.Google Scholar
  45. Odum, E. P., 1960. Organic production and turnover in old field succession. Ecology 41: 34–49.Google Scholar
  46. Ogawa, H., Yoda, K., Ogino, K & Kira, T., 1965. Comparative ecological studies on three main types of forest vegetation in Thailand. 2. Plant biomass. Nature and Life in Southeast Asia 4: 49–80.Google Scholar
  47. Ohsawa, M., 1981. A basic unit in forest community dynamics: A case study in the subalpine forest of Japan. Proc. BIOTROP Symp. Forest Regeneration in Southeast Asia, BIOTROP Special Publ. 13: 43–62.Google Scholar
  48. Ohsawa, M., Suzuki, M., Watanabe, R., Irikura, S. & Abe, Y, 1971. Altitudinal zonation of vegetation on Mt. Fuji. In: H. Tsuva et al. (eds.), Rep. of the Scientific Survey of Mt. Fuji, pp. 372–421. Fuji-kyu, Tokyo.Google Scholar
  49. Pianka, E. R., 1974. Evolutionary Ecology. Harper & Row, New York.Google Scholar
  50. Project Research Team of Four Universities, 1964. Studies on the productivity of forest. Part II. Larch (Larix leptolepis Gord.) forests of Shinshu district. Tokyo.Google Scholar
  51. Saito, M., 1971. Vegetation of forest upper limit on half way circuit and its adjascent on Mt. Fuji. In: H. Tsuya et al. (eds.), Rep. of the Scientific Survey of Mt. Fuji, pp. 639–656. Fuji-kyu, Tokyo.Google Scholar
  52. Satoo, T., 1970. A synthesis of studies by the harvest method: primary production relations in the temperate deciduous forests of Japan. In: D. E. Reichle (ed.), Analysis of Temperate Forest Ecosystems, pp. 55–72. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  53. Satoo, T., 1971. Primary production relations of coniferous forests in Japan. In: UNESCO, Productivity of Forest Ecosystems, pp. 91–205.Google Scholar
  54. Satoo, T. 1974a. Primary production relations in a natural forest of Betula maximowicziana in Hokkaido: materials for the studies of growth in forest stands. 9. Bull. Tokyo Univ. Forest 66: 109–117.Google Scholar
  55. Satoo, T., 1974b. Primary production relations in a young plantation of Abies sachalinensis in Hokkaido: materials for the studies of growth of forest stands. II. Bull. Tokyo Univ. Forest 66: 127–137.Google Scholar
  56. Sawada, S., Saeki, T. & Monsi, M., 1970. JIBP/PP-laboratory vans for photosynthesis and environmental measurements in the field. Jap. J. Ecol. 20: 203–207.Google Scholar
  57. Shidei, T., 1956. A consideration on the cause of lacking the subalpine coniferous forest zone in the Sea of Japan side. J. Jap. For. Soc. 38: 356–357.Google Scholar
  58. Tadaki, Y., Hatiya, K., 1968. Forest Ecosystem and its Matter Production. Ringyo Kaisetsu Ser., Tokyo.Google Scholar
  59. Tadaki, Y., Hatiya, K., Tchiaki, K, Miyauchi, H. & Matsuda, U., 1970. Studies on the production structure of forest (XVI). Primary production of Abies veitchii forests in the subalpine zone of Mt. Fuji. Bull. Gov. For. Exp. Station 229: 1–22.Google Scholar
  60. Tranquillini, W., 1979. Physiological ecology of the alpine timberline. Ecol. Stud. 31: Springer-Verlag, Berlin.Google Scholar
  61. Tsuya, H., 1971. Topography and geology of volcano Mt. Fuji. In: H. Tsuya et al. (eds.), Rep. of the Scientific Survey of Mt. Fuji, pp. 1–149. Fuji-kyu, Tokyo.Google Scholar
  62. Tsuya, H., Yamamoto, S., Huzimura, H., Numata, M., Miyawaki, A. & Kuroda, N. (eds.), 1971. Fujisan. Rep. of the Scientific Survey of Mt. Fuji. Fuji-kyu, Tokyo.Google Scholar
  63. Veblen, T. T., Ashton, D. H., Schlegel, F. M. & Veblen, A. T., 1977. Plant succession in a timberline depressed by vulcanism in south-central Chile. J. Biogeogr. 4: 275–294.Google Scholar
  64. Watt, A. S., 1947. Pattern and process in the plant community. J. Ecol. 35: 1–22.Google Scholar
  65. Weaver, J. E. & Clements, F. E., 1938. Plant Ecology. 2nd ed. McGraw Hill, New York.Google Scholar
  66. Whittaker, R. H., 1967. Gradient analysis of vegetation. Biol. Rev. 49: 207–264.Google Scholar
  67. Whittaker, R. H., 1970. Communities and Ecosystems. Macmillan, New York.Google Scholar
  68. Woodwell, G. M., 1967. Radiation and patterns of nature. Science 156: 461–470.Google Scholar
  69. Yamanashi Prefectural Forest Experiment Station, 1975. Report on site evaluation for plantation. Northwest region of Mt. Fuji. Kofu.Google Scholar
  70. Yeates, M. H., 1968. An Introduction to Quantitative Analysis in Economic Geography. McGraw-Hill, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dr W. Junk Publishers 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Masahiko Ohsawa
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Ecology, Faculty of ScienceChiba UniversityChibaJapan

Personalised recommendations