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Variation in tree growth, mortality and recruitment among topographic positions in a warm temperate forest

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Questions: Do the population dynamics of trees differ among topographic positions and, if so, how does topographic position affect the population dynamics of species that are distributed in a topography-specific manner? Which is the most important life stage in determining vegetation patterns?

Location: Primary and secondary warm temperate evergreen broad-leaved forest (40 - 280 m a.s.l.) on the western part of Yakushima Island, Japan.

Methods: Mortality, recruitment, DBH growth and distribution of stems (≥ 5 cm DBH) in a 2.62-ha plot were surveyed in 1992 and 2002 to determine the relationships between population parameters and (1) topography and (2) distribution patterns of 17 common tree species.

Results: Common species (n = 17) were classified into three distribution pattern groups: group A, distributed mainly on convex slopes; group B, on concave slopes, and group C, not aggregated with respect to topographic position. Stem mortality, recruitment and DBH growth were greater in group A than in group B within each topographic class. The hierarchy of stem mortality among topographic classes for groups A and B was convex > planar > concave. Stem recruitment density was relatively high on the convex and concave slopes, respectively, for groups A and B.

Conclusions: The topographical positions of adult trees were not always most suited for adult survival and growth. For group A, the distribution pattern of adults was determined in the juvenile stage, while this was not the case for group B. Studies of juvenile stages are important for understanding the demographic basis of vegetation distribution patterns.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-06-01

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