Ecological Research

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 289–302 | Cite as

Potential impact of climate change on canopy tree species composition of cool-temperate forests in Japan using a multivariate classification tree model

  • Tetsuya Matsui
  • Katsuhiro Nakao
  • Motoki Higa
  • Ikutaro Tsuyama
  • Yuji Kominami
  • Tsutomu Yagihashi
  • Dai Koide
  • Nobuyuki Tanaka
Special Feature Climate Change and Biodiversity Conservation in East Asia as a token of memory for the 7th EAFES in Daegu, Korea


Climate change will likely change the species composition or abundance of plant communities, and it is important to anticipate these changes to develop climate change adaptation policies. We chose beech (Fagus crenata Blume) and its competitive tree species as target species to evaluate potential turnover in forest types under climate change using a multivariate classification tree model. To construct the model, geographical presence/absence data for nine target species were used as multivariate response variables, with five climatic factors were used as predictor variables. Current and future distribution probabilities for the target species were calculated, and the 15 dominant forest types were subjectively classified in approximately 1-km2 grid cells within the area of the current beech forest distribution. All 16,398 grid cells of the beech-dominant forest type (FCR-QCR) were projected to be replaced in the future by five Quercus crispula-dominant types (59% of FCR-QCR grid cells), four Q. serrata types (22%), two Q. salicina types (8%), or two Abies firma types (0.1%). The FCR-QCR type remained unchanged (stable) in only 11.4% of grid cells; these were mainly distributed at high elevations in snowy areas on the Sea of Japan side of the country. In contrast, vulnerable habitats (future probability of beech occurrence less than 1.0%) were found at low elevations on both the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean sides. Northwards or upwards range expansions or increases of Quercus spp., in particular, need to be carefully monitored.


Fagus crenata mvpart package Potential habitats Stable habitats Vulnerable habitats 



We thank anonymous reviewers for useful comments. We also thank Dr. Carol West, Mr. Adrian de Groot, and Dr. James Worth for their useful comments on the former version of the manuscript. We also thank Dr. Tomoki Nakaya for his expertise on spatial statistics. We declare that this study was conducted in accordance with the prevailing laws and regulations of Japan. This study was funded by the Social Implementation Program on Climate Change Adaptation Technology (SI-CAT) of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, the Global Environmental Research (S-14) of the Ministry of the Environment, and the KAKENHI Grant Number 15H02833.

Supplementary material

11284_2018_1576_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (5.4 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1916 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for International Partnerships and Research on Climate Change, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Forest Research and Management OrganizationTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Kansai Research Center, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Forest Research and Management OrganizationKyotoJapan
  3. 3.Department of Plant EcologyForestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Forest Research and Management OrganizationTsukubaJapan
  4. 4.Center for Environmental Biology and Ecosystem StudiesNational Institute for Environmental StudiesTsukubaJapan
  5. 5.Laboratory of Plant Ecology, Faculty of ScienceKochi UniversityKochiJapan
  6. 6.Hokkaido Research Center, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Forest Research and Management OrganizationSapporoJapan
  7. 7.Tohoku Research CenterForestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Forest Research and Management OrganizationMoriokaJapan
  8. 8.Faculty of International Agriculture and Food StudiesTokyo University of AgricultureTokyoJapan

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