We analyzed the long-term canopy dynamics of a 2-ha permanent plot in subalpine old-growth coniferous forest over 43 y using digital surface models (DSMs) and a digital elevation model (DEM). The models contoured canopy and ground surface elevation, respectively. Abies mariesii, A. veitchii, Betula ermanii, Picea jezoensis var. hondoensis, and Tsuga diversifolia were the main species in the forest canopy. Canopy surface DSMs (2.5- × 2.5-m grids) were constructed of the area including the 2-ha plot using aerial photographs from 1959, 1969, 1979, 1989, and 2002, and a DEM was constructed from ground survey data collected in 1991. Canopy height profiles were obtained by calculating the difference between the canopy and the ground surface, and the status of the forest in each grid cell for each year was classified as gap or closed canopy, depending on whether the canopy height was ≤ 25 m or > 25 m, respectively. Tree census data were collected in 2000. The threshold value was decided by comparing the gap from digital elevation data with the result of the field survey. The total gap area in 1959 was greater than 1 ha, indicating that some disturbances had occurred in this plot, probably related to the Isewan Typhoon. A large change occurred during 1969–1989, when mean canopy closure rates were significantly higher than mean gap formation rates. Abies mariesii and B. ermanii tended to occur in the canopy layer in grid cells that contained gaps in 1959 and closed canopy in 2002. The presence of A. veitchii in the canopy layer was also associated with the change from gap to closed canopy, although not significantly so. These results suggest that Abies spp. regenerate more effectively than the other species by establishing seedling or sapling banks before gap formation. Large-scale disturbances, such as the Isewan Typhoon, do not favour the regeneration of spruce over subalpine fir, and species other than spruce are responsible for recovery following such disturbances, according to our analyses of long-term canopy dynamics.
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Vol. 13 • No. 4