Plant Ecology

, Volume 164, Issue 2, pp 235–248

Tree competition and species coexistence in a warm-temperate old-growth evergreen broad-leaved forest in Japan

  • N. Nishimura
  • T. Hara
  • M. Miura
  • T. Manabe
  • S. Yamamoto


The growth dynamics and mode of competition between adult trees ≥ 5.0cm in diameter at breast height (DBH) of nine abundant treespeciesoccupying ca. 85% of the total basal area were investigated in a 4ha study plot (200 m × 200 m) of awarm-temperate old-growth evergreen broad-leaved forest in the Tatera ForestReserve of Tsushima Island, southwestern Japan. In the plot, adult trees ≥5.0 cm DBH co-occurred with 35 woody plant species (except forwoody vine species). The most dominant and largest species,Castanopsis cuspidata var. sieboldiiexhibited a bimodal DBH distribution; it was found in both the upper and lowervertical layers. Other tree species had unimodal DBH distributionscorrespondingmostly to the lower vertical layer. We developed a model for individual growthincorporating both intra- and interspecific competition and degree ofcompetitive asymmetry. One-sided interspecific competition was detected in 17cases out of the 66 possible combinations on the scale of the 4 hastudy plot. The direction of interspecific competition was generally one-sidedfrom layer-I species to layer-II and III ones. The effects of two-sidedcompetition were detected only in layer-II and III species. OnlyDistylium racemosum exhibited one-sided intraspecificcompetition. We also found 11 cases of positive interspecific relationships.Generally, competitive relationships prevailed over positive relationshipsbetween adult trees in this warm-temperate evergreen broad-leaved forest.Competition between adult trees ≥ 5.0 cm in DBH did not occurinthe same vertical layer, but occurred only between trees in different verticallayers. This suggests that competition between adult trees ≥ 5.0cm in DBH plays a key role in the variation in species coexistencebetween different vertical layers on the 4 ha scale of thewarm-temperate evergreen broad-leaved forests. Moreover, it was found bycomparing with three different forest types that interspecific competition ismore intense in warm-temperate forests than in cool-temperate or sub-borealforests. We conclude that, compared to cool-temperate or sub-boreal forests(which have little interspecific competition), warm-temperate forests supportmore complex interspecific relationships and species-specific habitatpreferences that result in higher species diversity.

Diffusion model Growth dynamics Interspecific competition One-sided competition Species diversity Tatera Forest Reserve 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Nishimura
    • 1
  • T. Hara
    • 2
  • M. Miura
    • 3
  • T. Manabe
    • 4
  • S. Yamamoto
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratory of Applied Plant Ecology, Graduate School of Natural Science and TechnologyOkayama UniversityOkayamaJapan
  2. 2.The Institute of Low Temperature ScienceHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  3. 3.Laboratory of Forest Ecology and Physiology, Graduate School of Bioagricultural SciencesNagoya UniversityNagoyaJapan
  4. 4.Kitakyushu Museum and Institute of Natural HistoryKitakyushuJapan

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