Effects of sika deer (Cervus nippon) and dwarf bamboo ("sasa;" Sasamorpha borealis) on seedling emergence and survival were investigated in cool-temperate mixed forests in the Kyushu mountain range, Japan. We compared the effects of sika deer between two sites with different sika deer densities. One site (no-sasa forest) has sparse cover of S. borealis and a high density of sika deer, and the other site (sasa forest) has dense cover of S. borealis with a low density of sika deer. In the no-sasa forest, more seedlings emerged and the survival rate of the seedlings was higher compared with the sasa forest. Compared with the sasa forest, the canopy in the no-sasa forest was more open, the organic layer was shallower and drier, the mean daily soil temperature was higher, and soil temperature fluctuated more widely. Those environmental parameters did not differ between unfenced and fenced plots. The comparison between the sasa and no-sasa forests suggested that removal of S. borealis by sika deer had an indirect positive effect on seedling emergence and survival. However, the fenced-plot experiments indicated that sika deer inhibited seedling emergence and survival. These contradictory conclusions could result from the much larger negative effects of S. borealis on seedling emergence and survival compared with the effects of sika deer browsing.
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