To clarify the interactive effect of the simultaneous death of dwarf bamboo (Sasa kurilensis), forest canopy gap formation, and seed predators on beech (Fagus crenata) regeneration, we analyzed beech demography from seed fall until the end of the first growing season of seedlings in an old-growth forest near Lake Towada, northern Japan. The simultaneous death of S. kurilensis took place in 1995. We established four types of sampling site differing in forest canopy conditions (closed or gap) and Sasa status (dead or alive). Beech seed survival and emergence ratio were both highest in gaps with dead Sasa (gap-dead), because rate of predation was lowest. Seedling survival during the first growing season was also highest in the gap-dead treatment, because of less predation and less damping off. As a result, even though density of seed fall was lowest in the gap-dead treatment, the living seedling density there was highest at the end of the first growing season. Predation, which caused the greatest mortality during the seed and seedling stages, was significantly lower at both sites in gaps and sites with dead Sasa. This was probably due to changes in the behavior of rodents in response to the structure of the forest canopy and undergrowth. Both the death of Sasa and canopy gap formation allowed seedlings to avoid damping off because of the high light availability. The indirect effect of the simultaneous death of Sasa and canopy gap formation in reducing predation contributed more to beech regeneration than their direct effect in increasing light for the seedlings.
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