Landscape and Ecological Engineering

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 185–197 | Cite as

Regional landscape-scale comparison of species composition and recruitment in remnant tree patches 3 years after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami

  • Mizuki TomitaEmail author
  • Hiroshi Kanno
Special Feature: Original Paper Ecological Resilience of Ecosystems with Human Impact—Restoration of Plants and Animals


Understanding species composition and other characteristics of remnant trees that survive large-scale low-frequency disturbances such as tsunamis is an important step in monitoring and managing the process of recovery. This research was implemented in a study area along the shores of Sendai Bay, a region that was heavily damaged by the tsunami following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. Field surveys of all the remnant patches of trees in the study area were conducted in 2014, three years after the disturbance. A total of 202 remnant patches were identified, and all the tree species, including both canopy trees and newly established seedlings, were recorded for each patch. The identified trees totaled 88 species, which were classified into three indicator-species types by a hierarchical cluster analysis. Comparisons based on species composition and similarity showed that species composition and other characteristics of the remnant patches were influenced by vegetation histories and other factors that only become visible at the regional landscape scale. The number of tree and seedling species per unit area was highest in patches that originated from pine plantations. Seven of the 25 seedling species identified were not present in any of the canopy layers in the study area, indicating that they dispersed from outside this area. These results show that, despite the immense scale of the tsunami, many diverse patches of trees managed to survive the disturbance. These patches function as hubs for species dispersion and accelerate recovery of species diversity in the disturbed area.


Tree community Species diversity Vegetation history Large-scale disturbance Biological legacy Species assembly 



We are grateful to the Forestry Agency and local inhabitants for making the survey possible. We also wish to thank the reviewers for their invaluable suggestions and comments on the manuscript, and Dr. Kevin MacEwen Short for his editorial assistance. This research was supported by JSPS KAKENHI 24510332 and 25830153, and in part by the Nippon Life Insurance Foundation and Tohoku Gakuin University Research Grants from the President.


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Copyright information

© International Consortium of Landscape and Ecological Engineering and Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tokyo University of Information SciencesChibaJapan
  2. 2.Tohoku Afforestation and Environmental Protection Company LimitedSendaiJapan

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