, Volume 189, Issue 4, pp 971–980 | Cite as

Role of mycorrhizal associations in tree spatial distribution patterns based on size class in an old-growth forest

  • T. Sasaki
  • M. Konno
  • Y. Hasegawa
  • A. Imaji
  • M. Terabaru
  • R. Nakamura
  • N. Ohira
  • K. Matsukura
  • K. SeiwaEmail author
Population ecology – original research


An important factor controlling tree species diversity is conspecific density dependence (CDD). Adult trees associated with arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) and ectomycorrhiza (ECM) can exhibit negative and positive CDD effects on conspecific recruitment, respectively. However, the extent to which these mycorrhizal associations affect spatial distributions of individual trees and their relative abundances within forests through CDD remains uncertain. We analysed changes in spatial correlations between adults and conspecific juveniles at different growth stages of five hardwood species in a 6-ha plot of an old-growth forest using a point pattern analysis. The clump sizes of large individuals were also evaluated using the Iδ index (a measure of individual dispersion) in 24 species. In two AM-associated species, juveniles were distributed at greater distances with increasing size or were always distributed at a distance from adults, resulting in small clumps of adults. In contrast, juveniles of two ECM-associated species were distributed close to adults during early or late growth stage, resulting in large clumps of adults. Juveniles of an ECM-associated species disappeared with increasing size, probably due to shade intolerance. In 24 tree species with large numbers of individuals within a plot, the relative basal area was related to both mycorrhizal type and maximum diameter, suggesting that the relative abundance of a species is largely related to its mycorrhizal associations and maximum plant size. This study strongly demonstrated that mycorrhizal associations play an important role in determining the spatial distribution patterns and community structure of tree species through CDD.


Arbuscular mycorrhiza Conspecific density dependence Ectomycorrhiza Relative abundances Species diversity 



We thank Yoshihisa Suyama, Kenichi Kano, Naoto Numano, Hiroshi Kanno, Naoto Ueno, Tomoyuki Sitoh, and Megumi Kimura for help with the field observations. This work was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (K.S. No. 20380084).

Author contribution statement

KS and TS conceived of the idea. TS, MK, YH, AI, MT, RN, NO, KM and KS collected the data in the field. TS, MK, YH, AI, MT, RN and NO performed the analyses. TS and KS wrote the initial draft. All authors wrote and edited the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

442_2019_4376_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (34 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 33 kb)
442_2019_4376_MOESM2_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 13 kb)
442_2019_4376_MOESM3_ESM.pptx (2.1 mb)
Supplementary material 3 (PPTX 2186 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Agricultural ScienceTohoku UniversityOsakiJapan
  2. 2.Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery DivisionMiyagi Prefectural GovernmentSendaiJapan
  3. 3.Graduate School of Science and TechnologyNiigata UniversityNiigataJapan
  4. 4.Nara Prefecture Forest Research InstitutreNaraJapan

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