Influences of Climate Change on the Distribution and Population Dynamics of Subalpine Coniferous Forest in the Hakkoda Mountains, Northern Japan

  • Tohru NakashizukaEmail author
  • Masaya Shimazaki
  • Takehiro Sasaki
  • Takahisa Tanaka
  • Hiroko Kurokawa
  • Kouki Hikosaka
Part of the Ecological Research Monographs book series (ECOLOGICAL)


Recent research in the Hakkoda Mountains has shown that climate change during recent decades has caused a shift in the distribution of subalpine coniferous forest, which is dominated by Abies mariesii. To examine this shift, we analyzed past and present aerial photographs and found population dynamics evidence that suggests a shift of this species’ distribution to higher elevations. A fine-scale habitat suitability model for the species elucidated the environmental conditions that determine its present distribution, and this model can be applied to predict the future distribution under the predicted warming scenarios. The model showed that not only temperature but also topography and snow deposition will regulate the future distribution. One important suggestion is that habitats at the periphery of moorlands will act as refugia for A. mariesii during the warming process. The fine-scale habitat model may therefore guide the management by providing a measure of how populations will adapt to environmental change.


Abies mariesii Altitudinal distribution Aerial photographs Distribution shift Population change Refugia Snowfall 



This study was financially supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (Sousei D), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (26281049), and The Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Environment Fund (R11-G4-1046).


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Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tohru Nakashizuka
    • 1
    Email author
  • Masaya Shimazaki
    • 1
  • Takehiro Sasaki
    • 2
    • 3
  • Takahisa Tanaka
    • 1
  • Hiroko Kurokawa
    • 1
    • 4
  • Kouki Hikosaka
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of Life SciencesTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan
  2. 2.Graduate School of Frontier SciencesThe University of TokyoKashiwa, ChibaJapan
  3. 3.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceChiba UniversityChibaJapan
  4. 4.Forestry and Forest Products Research InstituteTsukubaJapan

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