Questions: What is the effect of the 19th century (pre-industrialization) landscape pattern on the recovery of climax forests in cool-temperate mountain areas dominated by Fagus crenata (Japanese beech)?
Location: Secondary forests on Mt. Daisen, western Japan.
Methods: Vegetation patterns before and after industrialization were obtained from maps drawn in 1898 and 1979. Tree measurements were made in 12 plots in 1997. Correlation between current Fagus crenata dominance and forest edge in the 19th century was analysed using an S-shaped regression curve. Fagus juvenile density was counted in the plots, and distances from each plot to the five nearest mother trees were measured to determine the dispersal kernel.
Results: Secondary grassland covered a substantial area in 1898, whereas forest covered most of the area in 1997. Fagus was dominant in places in the interior forest 100 years ago, and mature Fagus trees were absent in secondary forests that had been grasslands in 1898. The expected number of juveniles decreased to one individual per 100 m2 at 43.5 m from the mother tree.
Conclusions: The pre-industrialization landscape greatly affected recovery of Fagus forest. Forests found on the 1898 vegetation map might have acted as refugia for Fagus. The limited dispersal ability of Fagus suggests that it would take many generations (several hundred years) for Fagus forests to recover at the centre of what had been grasslands in the 19th century.
Abbreviation: BA = basal area.
Nomenclature: Satake et al. (1989).