Dendroecological techniques were used to study the dynamics and species recruitment patterns, spanning nearly four centuries, for a mesic, montane, old-growth forest in Hokkaido, northern Japan. The forest is dominated by Abies sachalinensis (Masters), Acer palmatum (Thunb.), Quercus mongolica var. grosseserrata (Rehd.), and Cemidiphyllum japonicum (Sieb.). From 1620 to 1750 and 1820 to 1840, Q. mongolica exhibited continuous recruitment into the overstory. A lack of recruitment for all tree species from 1750 to 1820 followed a 1739 volcanic eruption 200 km from the study area. Release events for individual trees occurred almost every decade of the stand history, indicating that frequent small-scale disturbances coupled with infrequent large-scale disturbances, impact tree growth and species recruitment. From 1870 to 1950, canopy recruitment of Abies and Acer dominated the forest, while recruitment of Quercus ceased. These later successional species appeared to be replacing Quercus, suggesting that the syndrome of declining oak dominance is an increasingly global phenomenon. However, successional patterns in the forest are difficult to predict because intensive deer browsing has recently prevented canopy recruitment of all tree species and the possibility of future large-scale disturbances, such as fire and volcanic eruption.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Global and Planetary Change