The mountain zone of Yakushima Island is covered with a mixed conifer-broadleaved forest dominated by old-growth Cryptomeria japonica (L. f.) D. Don trees. Even though Yakushima Island has been frequently struck by typhoons with wind velocities exceeding 55 m s-1, the Cr. japonica trees in the mountain zone have survived for thousands of years without fatal damage. To evaluate the effect of storms on tree growth, the relationships between the stem diameter at breast height (DBH) and the heights of Cr. japonica and coexistent tree species were investigated. Two models based on an expanded allometric equation and a discontinuous piecewise allometric equation, respectively, to represent DBH-height relationships were evaluated. In all plots, the DBH-height relationship of Cr. japonica was discontinuous between small DBH and large DBH individuals. The tops of the large DBH individuals of Cr. japonica were lost to strong winds. However in each instance, they occupied the highest position in the canopy, even if they had lost their tops. In contrast, the DBH-height relationships of subcanopy broadleaved species were continuous in many plots and the equilibrium heights of the dominant broadleaved species were similar and almost in the same order regardless of the canopy heights of Cr. japonica. These results revealed a constant vertical structure in the Cr. japonica forest on Yakushima Island. Our results demonstrate a vertical niche segregation in the forest under high wind pressures and such vertical structure enables effective use of forest space and increases the basal area density.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics