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1 February 2008 Comparative demography of three coexisting Acer species in gaps and under closed canopy
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Questions: 1. Is there a trade-off between gap dependency and shade tolerance in each of the life-history stages of three closely related, coexisting species, Acer amoenum (Aa), A. mono (Am) and A. rufinerve (Ar)? 2. If not, what differences in life-history traits contribute to the coexistence of these non-pioneer species?

Location: Ogawa Forest Reserve, a remnant (98 ha), species-rich, temperate deciduous forest in central Japan (36°56′ N, 140°35′ E, 600 - 660 m a.s.l.).

Methods: We estimated the demographic parameters (survival, growth rate and fecundity) by stage of each species growing in gaps and under closed canopy through observations of a 6-ha permanent plot over 12 years. Population dynamics were analysed with stage-based matrix models including gap dynamics.

Results: All of the species showed high seedling and sapling survival rates under closed canopies. However, demographic parameters for each growth stage in gaps and under closed canopies revealed inter-specific differences and ontogenetic shifts. The trade-off between survival in the shade and growth in gaps was detected only at the small sapling stage (height < 30 cm), and Ar had the highest growth rate both in the shade and in the gaps at most life stages.

Conclusions: Inter-specific differences and ontogenetic shifts in light requirements with life-form differences may contribute to the coexistence of the Acer species in old-growth forests, with Aa considered a long-lived sub-canopy tree, Am a long-lived canopy tree, and Ar a short-lived, ‘gap-phase’ sub-canopy tree.

Nomenclature: Satake et al. (1989).

H. Tanaka, M. Shibata, T. Masaki, S. Iida, K. Niiyama, S. Abe, Y. Kominami, and T. Nakashizuka "Comparative demography of three coexisting Acer species in gaps and under closed canopy," Journal of Vegetation Science 19(1), 127-138, (1 February 2008).
Received: 7 December 2006; Accepted: 1 June 2007; Published: 1 February 2008

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