Light-related competitive effects of overstory trees on the understory conifer saplings in a subalpine forest
To clarify the mechanism by which overstory trees shade understory saplings, we investigated the relationships among light conditions of the saplings (measured as indirect site factor; ISF and direct site factor; DSF), the calculated competition effects of overstory trees on the saplings (W), and relative height growth rate of the saplings (RHGR). We calculated several W values in order to find a W value which can express the light conditions as appropriately as possible, and the results indicated that W explained only 21.9%–24.7% of the total variance of light conditions in the cases where W gave the best fit. In this study, W was calculated based on the basal areas of overstory trees. However, it is known that canopy structure also affects the light regimes in the forest understory, and this might yield the possible errors even within W representing the shading effects most adequately. Therefore, although W significantly represents the shading effect from overstory trees, a great proportion of the variance remained without being explained by W. RHGR was negatively correlated with W, and the W value which had the most adequate explanation of the shading effect also showed the best negative correlation with RHGR. This provides the evidence that the competitive effect of overstory trees on sapling growth is mediated by the shading effect, indicating that competition for light clearly exists within this forest. Such competition for light may closely relate to the well-known phenomenon of gap regeneration in subalpine forests in central Japan.
Key wordsAbies Competition Local crowding Picea Shading effect
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