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What if a suburban coniferous plantation is transformed into a broad-leaved forest ? : Changes in plant species over time revealed by long-term data


Article title

Changes of plant diversity and species composition with reference to habitat classification in recovered broad-leaved secondary forest in abandoned plantation forest after meteorological disturbance in the warm-temperate zone

Author (affiliation)

Kazunori Shimada (a), Toshio Katsuki (a), Michiru Ohnaka (a), Kojiro Iwamoto (a)

(a) Tama Forest Science Garden, FFPRI, Hachioji, Tokyo, Japan.

Publication Journal

Japanese Journal of Forest Environment, 60(1):11-21, June 2018 DOI:10.18922/jjfe.60.1_11( External link )

Content introduction

In recent years, efforts are being made to transform coniferous plantations into broad-leaved forests. Suburban broad-leaved forests are inhabited by many organisms, and SATOYAMA species is expected to be preserved to ensure that the residents continue to experience familiarity. However, it has been unclear how plant species change over a long period of time in a circumstance wherein coniferous plantations are transformed into broad-leaved forests.

In this study, we monitored changes in species of plants, including not only trees but also herbaceous plants, in a coniferous plantation for 30 years after it was damaged by snow and wind. The result revealed that the number of non-forest plants, which prefer bright places, such as human dwellings, grasslands, and forest edges, increased rapidly for 3 years following the disaster. After the fourth year following the disaster, plants constituting natural forests in this region (evergreen broad-leaved forests) slowly invaded the forest of interest and darkened the forest interior; as a result, non-forest plants disappeared, and the SATOYAMA diversity decreased progressively.

This result demonstrates that the preservation of SATOYAMA species in a broad-leaved forest converted from a coniferous forest requires periodic clear-cutting and continuous forest floor management to maintain brightness. This is a very important finding that acts as a guide for community residents involved in the practical management of a suburban forest having SATOYAMA ecosystems services to be preserved.

Figure 1: Secular changes in the number of plant species
Figure 1: Secular changes in the number of plant species in the two study plots. The number of plant species increased for several years after meteorological disturbance but continued to decrease thereafter.

Photo 1: Non-forest species enriching SATOYAMA diversity

Photo 1: Non-forest species enriching SATOYAMA diversity (clockwise from upper left: Campanula punctata Lam., Ajuga nipponensis, Codonopsis lanceolata, and Gentiana zollingeri)

Photo 2: Once a secondary broad-leaved forest

Photo 2: Once a secondary broad-leaved forest is established after disturbance, non-forest plant species decrease and SATOYAMA diversity decreases.