Effects of microenvironmental heterogeneity on the seed-to-seedling process and tree coexistence in a riparian forest
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- Masaki, T., Osumi, K., Takahashi, K. et al. Ecol Res (2007) 22: 724. doi:10.1007/s11284-006-0308-1
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In a temperate riparian forest, the effects of substrate types, canopy gaps and conspecific seedfall density were investigated on the seed-to-seedling process for the five dominant species (Aesculus turbinata, Fagus crenata, Acer mono, Pterocarya rhoifolia and Cercidiphyllum japonicum). Densities of seedfall and subsequent seedling recruits were measured in the stand over a period of 6 years. A model assuming that local density of seedling recruits is proportional to seedfall density in the preceding year significantly explained a spatial variation in seedling recruits for all species. Several environmental factors were then added. Substrate composition had a positive effect on P. rhoifolia and C. japonicum. P. rhoifolia was favored by gravel substrate, which also explained the adult distribution of this species in this forest. C. japonicum appeared to be facilitated by a mineral-soil substrate. However, the distributions of this substrate and adults of C. japonicum did not follow each other closely. A. mono was negatively affected by gaps, and F. crenata was negatively affected by conspecific seedfall density. In contrast, A. turbinata was not significantly affected by any of the environmental factors tested. The microenvironmental heterogeneity in this forest explained species coexistence to a limited extent in the context of seed-to-seedling processes. Performances at later stages of the life-cycle and/or catastrophic disturbances (e.g. landslides) might have a stronger influence on species coexistence in this forest.