To identify the factors responsible for degrading the habitat of the endangered plant species Aster kantoensis, as well as the vulnerable life stage where this occurs, we carried out sowing experiments. Two natural habitats were simulated, being situated along the floodplains of the Tama River in central Japan. Seeds collected from a natural habitat were sown in two apparently suitable locations (Tomoda and Ishida sites). Germination, survival, growth, and seed production were subsequently monitored from 1993 through to 1997. The Tomoda site was a gravel bar in floodplains formed by flooding in 1991, while the Ishida site (two plots) was one gravel bar where several plants were growing sparsely and another where a population had become extinct in 1992. Seed cohorts completed their life cycle within 3 years at the Ishida site and within 5 years at the Tomoda site. Monitored parameters at Ishida were substantially lower than those at Tomoda. In addition, estimates of population growth indicated an increase at Tomoda and a rapid decrease at Ishida. However, degradation of habitats seemed to occur at Tomoda over the monitored periods. In view of our results, we conclude that natural germination of about 0.13% is needed for increasing population size. The major factors for decreasing population size are believed to be the lack of safe sites for germination and seedling establishment in old habitats (> 10 years). Conservation measures are suggested based on these findings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics