Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 125, Issue 1, pp 103–114 | Cite as

Fleshy fruit characteristics in a temperate deciduous forest of Japan: how unique are they?

  • Takashi Masaki
  • Kazuaki Takahashi
  • Ayako Sawa
  • Tomoyuki Kado
  • Shoji Naoe
  • Shinsuke Koike
  • Mitsue Shibata
Regular Paper


This study investigated the fleshy fruit characteristics of 28 woody species in a Japanese temperate forest where large sedentary seed-dispersing mammals are present. We tested whether the findings in previous studies in temperate forests of Europe and North America are universal or not. Results have suggested that fruits of all species were eaten both by birds and mammals except for four species with larger fruits, which were eaten only by mammals. A gradient was found from a syndrome characterized by small, oily, and large-seeded fruits to a syndrome characterized by large, succulent, non-oily, and small-seeded fruits. The sizes and colors of the fruits were not conspicuously different from previous findings in Europe and North America. On the other hand, nitrogen and lipids in the fleshy part did not show seasonally increasing trends, or even seasonally decreasing trends in terms of dry weight. This result, suggesting the absence of community-level adaptation of fruit traits to migratory bird dispersers, contrasted with findings in Europe and North America. Large sedentary arboreal or tree-climbing mammals may have a greater effect on the evolution of fruit-disperser relations than opportunistic migratory birds.


Carnivore Frugivore Lipids Nitrogen Seed dispersal 



The authors would like to thank Mrs. I. Fushimi and Mrs. M. Hosoi for their critical help measuring fruit dimensions and Dr. K. Yamazaki and Dr. C. Kozakai for their help sampling fruits in the field. We are also very grateful to Dr. R. T. Corlett for the comments on an earlier version of the manuscript, and to the Japan Food Research Laboratories, to which we entrusted the measurements of nutritional properties. This study was supported in part by the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (Project 2-2: Sustainability and biodiversity assessment on forest utilization options), by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (19201048), and by the Pollution Control Research Fund of the Ministry of the Environment of Japan (Project on the Japanese black bears’ mass intrusion into human settlements).


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takashi Masaki
    • 1
  • Kazuaki Takahashi
    • 2
  • Ayako Sawa
    • 3
  • Tomoyuki Kado
    • 4
  • Shoji Naoe
    • 5
  • Shinsuke Koike
    • 6
  • Mitsue Shibata
    • 7
  1. 1.Forestry and Forest Products Research InstituteTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Nagano UniversityUedaJapan
  3. 3.Tsukuba UniversityTsukubaJapan
  4. 4.The Graduate University for Advanced StudiesHayamaJapan
  5. 5.Center for Ecological ResearchKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  6. 6.Tokyo University of Agriculture and TechnologyTokyoJapan
  7. 7.Tohoku Research CenterForestry and Forest Products Research InstituteMoriokaJapan

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