1 Forest canopy gap and community dynamics were studied in a 4-ha permanent
plot of an old-growth evergreen broad-leaved forest dominated by Castanops
is cuspidata var. sieboldii and Distylium racemosum in the Tatera Forest Re
serve, Tsushima Islands, south-western Japan. The forest was affected by a
powerful typhoon in 1987 and was monitored from 1990 to 1997.
2 In 1990, all woody stems greater than or equal to 5 cm diameter at breast
height (d.b.h.) in the plot were identified, mapped and marked, and the st
ate of 1600 5 m x 5 m contiguous quadrats used to locate canopy gaps. Gaps
occupied 17.1% of the plot, which contained 4494 tree and shrub stems (tota
l basal area 63.48 m(2) ha(-1)). Gaps were re-censused in 1997 and both mar
ked and newly recruited (greater than or equal to 5 cm d.b.h.) stems were r
ecorded in 1992 and 1997.
3 Over 7 years the rates of canopy gap formation and closure were 0.72% yea
r(-1) and 1.61% year(-1), respectively, mortality and recruitment rates wer
e 0.97% year(-1) and 0.99% year(-1), and the rates of loss and gain in basa
l area were 0.95% year(-1) and 0.83% year(-1).
4 The mortality of stems was size-dependent, with those in middle size clas
ses having the lowest rates. Mortality of stems was lower in canopy and hig
her in the understorey, while the proportion of stems killed by disturbance
s increased with height.
5 Stems that died during the 7 years were predominantly located in newly cr
eated gaps, whereas stems were recruited into both established and new gaps
. Deciduous broadleaved species were largely restricted to gaps that remain
ed open throughout the study.
6 Both composition and structure of the forest changed in response to distu
rbance-related effects on canopy dynamics.