Distribution patterns, floristic differentiation and succession of Pinus densiflora forest in South Korea: A perspective at nation-wide scale
Choung, Heung-Lak; Hong, Sun-Kee
Distribution patterns, floristic differentiation, and succession process of Pinus densiflora forest in South Korea were studied by analyzing nation-wide phytosociological data and a map of actual vegetation. Actual vegetation, phytosociological methods, floral components, Shannon's index, life forms and DCA analysis were used to evaluate the ecological characteristics of the Pinus densiflora forest. P. densiflora forest occurs mainly in the Taeback and Soback Mountain ranges of Korea. Cover of P. densiflora forest was extensive at less than 300 m above sea level. The vegetation is mostly composed of secondary vegetation that had been influenced by human use. However, this vegetation is simultaneously changing to a Pinus densiflora-Quercus mongolica community at higher altitude or latitude and to a Pinus densiflora-Quercus serrata community below. DCA results show that Quercus serrata and Quercus mongolica are invading P. densiflora forest in the shrub or sub-tree layer by progressive succession. The floristic composition in P. densiflora forest showed differences according to topographic factors such as slope aspect, altitude and latitude, that decides the vegetation type (two Pinus densiflora-Quercus communities) of the forest. The number of species is high on north slopes with higher potential soil moisture and organic content than other directions. The Pinus densiflora-Quercus mongolica community shows a high number of species of Rosaceae, Violaceae, Aceraceae and Asclepiadaceae higher than those of Ranunculaceae, Caprifoliaceae, Euphorbiaceae and Theaceae that often appear in the Pinus densiflora-Quercus serrata community. It is thought that the analyses of the floristic differences between the communities are related to vegetation succession. In the Raunkiaer life forms, the distribution area of Pinus densiflora is wider than those of the two Quercus communities. We conclude that opening the canopy, as in forest management, is needed to sustain the biodiversity and ecological characteristics of Pinus densiflora forest.