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Glob Chang Biol. 2015 Sep;21(9):3436-44. doi: 10.1111/gcb.12911. Epub 2015 Apr 30.

Regional-scale directional changes in abundance of tree species along a temperature gradient in Japan.

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The University of Tokyo Chichibu Forest, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 1-1-49 Hinoda-machi, Chichibu, Saitama, 368-0034, Japan.
Network Center of Forest and Grassland Survey in Monitoring Sites 1000 Project, Japan Wildlife Research Center, c/o Tomakomai Research Station, Filed Science Center for Northern Biosphere, Hokkaido University, Tomakomai, Hokkaido, 053-0035, Japan.
Graduate School for International Development and Cooperation, Hiroshima University, Higashi-Hiroshima, Japan.


Climate changes are assumed to shift the ranges of tree species and forest biomes. Such range shifts result from changes in abundances of tree species or functional types. Owing to global warming, the abundance of a tree species or functional type is expected to increase near the colder edge of its range and decrease near the warmer edge. This study examined directional changes in abundance and demographic parameters of forest trees along a temperature gradient, as well as a successional gradient, in Japan. Changes in the relative abundance of each of four functional types (evergreen broad-leaved, deciduous broad-leaved, evergreen temperate conifer, and evergreen boreal conifer) and the demography of each species (recruitment rate, mortality, and population growth rate) were analyzed in 39 permanent forest plots across the Japanese archipelago. Directional changes in the relative abundance of functional types were detected along the temperature gradient. Relative abundance of evergreen broad-leaved trees increased near their colder range boundaries, especially in secondary forests, coinciding with the decrease in deciduous broad-leaved trees. Similarly, relative abundance of deciduous broad-leaved trees increased near their colder range boundaries, coinciding with the decrease in boreal conifers. These functional-type-level changes were mainly due to higher recruitment rates and partly to the lower mortality of individual species at colder sites. This is the first report to show that tree species abundances in temperate forests are changing directionally along a temperature gradient, which might be due to current or past climate changes as well as recovery from past disturbances.


Japan; Monitoring Sites 1000 Project; abundance; climate change; demography; directional change; disturbance; permanent plots; succession; temperate forest

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