Folia Geobotanica

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 319–330 | Cite as

Plant community dynamics on the volcano Mount Koma, northern Japan, after the 1996 eruption



A small eruption occurred in the early spring of 1996 on the summit of Mount Koma, northern Japan, 67 years after the 1929 catastrophic eruption. To identify damage on the plant communities and recovery patterns, we established 400 50 × 50 cm permanent plots in four locations along the gradient of the thickness of tephra produced in 1996: non-disturbed (N), weakly disturbed (W), middle disturbed (M), and heavily disturbed (H). Annual monitoring was conducted from 1996 to 2001. Gullies and rills formed in M and H, indicating that the ground surface movements were more intense there. Mean vascular plant species richness increased from H to N, but did not increase from 1996 to 2001 in any location. In an area where tephra thickness was 10 cm, the recovery was mostly conducted by the species that could have survived during the eruption. A shrub,Salix reinii, was the leading species in most sites throughout most years. Large perennial herbs,Polygonum weyrichii, P. sachalinense andMiscanthus sinensis were common in the disturbed areas, in particular in M and H. Those three species develop large underground organs and enlarge clonally, suggesting that the tolerance to ground surface stability is the most important trait for the recovery of those species.Carex oxyandra established not only by vegetative regeneration but also by seedling regeneration. A short forb,Campanula lasiocarpa, could establish only in W by seedling regeneration. Mosses and lichens were predominant in plots in N and W, but less represented and not greatly increasing their cover in M and H up to 2001. We concluded that the community recovery was delayed in all the disturbed areas, mostly due to low seedling establishment. Only a few specific species established by vegetative reproduction. Disturbance gradients such as thickness of tephra and/or ground surface stability have determined plant community structure and development.


Permanent plot Tephra Vegetation succession Vegetative reproduction 


Ohwi & Kitagawa (1983) 


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Copyright information

© Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Environmental Earth ScienceHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  2. 2.Biological Laboratory, Hakodate CollegeHokkaido University of EducationHakodateJapan

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