Leaf diseases drive the Janzen–Connell mechanism regardless of light conditions: a 3-year field study

Bayandala, Kazuhiko Masaka, Kenji Seiwa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In forests, negative density/distance-dependent seedling mortality (NDD) caused by natural enemies plays a key role in maintaining species diversity [Janzen–Connell (J–C) model]. However, the relative importance of natural enemies in mediating NDD under heterogeneous light conditions has remained unclear. We examined the relative importance of pathogens (i.e., soil pathogens, leaf diseases) on seedling performance in forest understories (FUs) and gaps (gaps) during a 3-year period (results of first year of our study have been previously reported). For the hardwood, Prunus grayana, we investigated seedling mortality, morbidity agents, growth, and root infection by arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) beneath conspecific and heterospecific adults in FUs and gaps. Seedling mortality was higher beneath conspecific than heterospecific adults throughout 3 years at both sites, mainly due to continuous leaf disease (i.e., angular leaf spot), whereas damping-off diseases caused mortality only in the first year. Beneath each adult, seedling mortality was higher in FUs than in gaps until second year, but it did not differ between two habitat types in the third year, because leaf diseases caused severe damage even in gaps. Seedling mass was significantly lower beneath conspecific adults. AMF infection of seedlings was also lower beneath conspecific adults, while it was higher in gaps than in FUs beneath both adults. This study demonstrates that the J–C model in a hardwood tree, P. grayana is mainly driven by high NDD seedling mortality caused by airborne leaf diseases, which continuously attack seedlings in a NDD manner regardless of environmental light conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-199
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1


  • Angular leaf spot
  • Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi
  • Gaps
  • Soil pathogen
  • Species diversity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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