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Central die-back of monoclonal stands of Reynoutria japonica in an early stage of primary succession on Mount Fuji

Adachi, N.T.rashima, I.T.kahashi, M.

Annals of botany 77(5): 477-486

1996


ISSN/ISBN: 0305-7364
Accession: 002772512

Reynoutria japonica is a common perennial pioneer species on Japanese volcanoes. In a volcanic desert (1500 m above sea level) on Mount Fuji (3776 m), central Japan, this species forms circular stands (patches). As a patch develops, shoot density decreases in its centre ('central die-back'). The central die-back has been considered a key process in the early stages of primary succession, though its mechanism has been unknown. The pattern of patch development, population dynamics of aerial shoots, and growth patterns of below-ground organs were analysed in order to investigate the mechanism of die-back, and the following traits are clarified: (1) central die-back areas occur in most small patches (approx. 1 m2) without later successional species; (2) shoot characteristics are dependent both on their position within a patch and on patch size; (3) despite the large differences in shoot density, neither time course of shoot growth nor their mortality differs between the centre and periphery of patches; and (4) rhizomes of R. japonica grow outwards with regular sympodial branching. From these results, it is concluded that neither interspecific nor intraspecific competition is likely to be a primary cause of the die-back phenomenon, but that central die-back is brought about intrinsically by the growth pattern of the rhizome systems. We also discuss the importance of the central die-back in facilitating establishment of later successional species in the early stages of primary succession.

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