Question: The aim of the present study is to determine whether seed/seedling predation will increase and Fagus survival will decline with the recovery of the Sasa cover.
Methods: We examined Fagus crenata regeneration for seven years in an old-growth Fagus-Sasa forest near Lake Towada, northern Japan, by examining the effects of simultaneous death of Sasa, tree canopy gap formation, mast seeding of Fagus and seed and seedling predation by rodents on the survival of Fagus seeds and current year seedlings. We established four types of sites differing in forest canopy (closed or gap) and Sasa status (dead or alive) following the simultaneous flowering and death of Sasa kurilensis (dwarf bamboo) in 1995.
Results: Fallen Fagus seed was abundant in 1997 and 2000 (mast years). In sites with alive Sasa, survival from the first growing season was low due to high seed and seedling predation. In sites with dead Sasa, seed survival under the canopy was high for both mast years, but in gaps it varied between years. Seedling survival was highest in canopy gaps with dead Sasa (gap-dead) in 1998, because of higher light levels and lower predation by rodents. However, seedling survival in these plots was low in 2001, apparently because rapid Sasa recovery favoured rodent predation. In both mast years, Sasa die-back had significant positive effects on seed and seedling survival under closed canopies because the seedlings there were more successful in escaping predation.
Conclusion: The change in successful sites for the early stage of regeneration of Fagus appears to reflect the combined effects of canopy gap, seed/seedling predation and revegetation of Sasa.
Nomenclature: Satake et al. (1989).
Abbreviations: PPFD = Photosynthetic photon flux density; RPPFD = Relative photosynthetic photon flux density.