Degradation of slopes due to shallow landslide and the subsequent erosional processes are a big challenge on the application of soil bioengineering techniques; that is the use of plants as main structural components of a slope protection and conservation system. An optimal application of soil bioengineering techniques should include not only the technical factor of plants as structural components but also the ecology of species and the plant adaptations to disturbances, which is crucial if a longterm successful slope restoration system is intended. Ferns are a dominant understory vegetation species in the forest of Japan, but its characteristics and influences on the recovery of shallow landslide scars have not been fully studied yet. This study aims to find out the ecological characteristics of fern species through the calculation of ecological indicators and the quantification of the morphological features of specimens growing on disturbed and non-disturbed forest slopes in Japan. Gleichenia japonica was found as the vegetation species with biggest ecological indicators on both slopes. The analysis of morphological characteristics of the specimens growing on both sites showed that the development of the specimens is focused in below-ground characteristics. The pull-out force of Gleichenia japonica root system as an indicator of ecological adaptation to a constraint environment and morphological characteristics quality is influenced by height and root length according to the principal component analysis. The eco-morphological characteristics of species can be used as an indicator of an optimal element in soil bioengineering establishment for slope conservation proposes. The long and fibrous root system could be placed on forest roads, steep or small slopes where space limitation is an issue for the establishment of bigger species and if the slope conditions allow it, it can control soil losses due to rainfall and provide stability.
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