The relationship between tree distribution and topography was examined in a small river basin (3.4 ha) comprising a complex mosaic of topographical units at 102 to 103 m2 order, each of which had a shallow valley bordered by small ridges or breaks of slopes. Twenty-five major woody species were divided into two groups (groups A and B) based on a cluster analysis using the distribution data in the basin. Group A, which mainly consisted of early-successional species, was distributed around the valley sites of the topographical units, while group B, which mainly consisted of late-successional species, was distributed around the ridge sites of the topographical units. This vegetation pattern coincided with erosional condition in the basin. That is, the valley sites were eroded more actively than the ridge sites, as soil depth tended to be thin in the valley sites and thick in the ridge sites, and because large (canopy) trees were restricted in the ridge sites. There was no tendency that group B was replacing group A, and hence it was suggested that repeated disturbance by slope failures or small-scale shallow landslides have prevented compositional change from the early-successional (group A) to the late-successional (group B) species by preventing the invasion of the latter into valley sites.
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Sakai, A., Ohsawa, M. Topographical pattern of the forest vegetation on a river basin in a warm-temperate hilly region, central Japan. Ecol. Res. 9, 269–280 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02348413
- geomorphic process
- topographical unit
- vegetation pattern analysis
- warmtemperate forest