Plant Ecology

, Volume 218, Issue 4, pp 395–406 | Cite as

Adaptive plasticity in the life history strategy of a canopy tree species, Pterocarya rhoifolia, along a gradient of maximum snow depth

  • Yosuke Nakano
  • Hitoshi Sakio


The Japanese wingnut Pterocarya rhoifolia is a riparian canopy tree species that grows under a variety of climate conditions, including heavy snowfall, despite the difficulties posed to canopy trees in such environments. This suggests that P. rhoifolia might adapt its life history strategy to different snowfall conditions. This study compared several life history traits of this tree species in a cool temperate mountainous area in central Japan along a gradient of maximum snow depth. The following trends were observed with increasing maximum snow depth: (1) diameter at breast height decreased, maximum stem length and tree height shortened, and trees tended toward a ‘dwarf shrub’ form; (2) the number of sprout stems increased significantly, and these sprouts contributed to maintaining the population; and (3) seed production decreased. Our results suggest trade-offs between clonal growth (sprouting) and sexual reproduction (seed production), and between sprouting and height growth. We concluded that the life history strategy P. rhoifolia demonstrated adaptive plasticity in response to a gradient of maximum snow depth.


Maximum snow depth Disturbance Sprouting Seed production Tree size Trade-offs 



The authors would like to extend our appreciation to all of the staff members at Sado Station, Field Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Faculty of Agriculture, Niigata University, especially Dr. Kosuke Homma, Mr. Mamoru Ohno, Mr. Kohki Shirai, Ms. Haruka Nakayama, Ms. Yuka Kawakami, Ms. Monami Takahashi, and Mr. Kohki Mutou, for their helpful suggestions and support of the fieldwork on Sado Island. We also thank Dr. Wajiro Suzuki for his advice and kind assistance during field work in Tadami. We are also grateful to the members of the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, especially Drs. Hiroki Ito and Satoshi Kikuchi, for their field investigations and helpful suggestions. Finally, the authors would like to thank the referees, whose comments helped improve this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Science and TechnologyNiigata UniversityNiigata CityJapan
  2. 2.Tadami Beech CenterFukushimaJapan
  3. 3.Sado Station, Field Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Faculty of AgricultureNiigata UniversitySadoJapan

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