Recruitment-related traits (development and dispersal of seeds, emergence, leaf dynamics, growth and survival of seedlings) were studied in Japanese elm (Ulmus davidiana var. japonica) in relation to disturbance at the soil level (bare soil, lifter and control) or the canopy level (forest edge (FE), small gaps (SG) and forest understorey (FU)), or both, in a riverside forest from 1990 to 1993. Seed germination was also tested in the laboratory. Litter accumulation severely inhibited seedling emergence. Seedling emergence from a single seed rain occurred in summer immediately after seed dissemination and in the following spring. In summer, seedling emergence was higher in FE than in FU. In the following spring more seedlings emerged in FU than in FE and SG, resulting in non-significant differences in the percentage emergence among the three sites in bare soil. Darkness or far-red light induced seed dormancy, but after chilling they started to germinate again under white or red light conditions. These results explained emergence phenology under changing light conditions in the field. In FU, the spring emerging cohort grew and survived better than the summer emerging one. In FE the reverse was true. Japanese elm avoids unfavourable periods by escaping either in time (dormancy) or in space (dispersal). Such traits compensate for late and compressed seed dissemination, and improve seedling growth and survival not only when disturbance occurs at both canopy and soil level (bare soil in FE) but also only at soil level (bare soil in FU), which may occur more frequently in riverside forests.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Plant Science