Distributions of lucidophyllous species are limited due to the fragmentation of laurel forest. On Komayama Hill in central Japan, we evaluated the colonization of typical lucidophyllous vascular plants from a 350-year-old laurel forest into adjacent abandoned secondary forest for conservation and restoration purposes. A total of 14 consecutive subplots were established along the vegetation border between the two forests (length, 30 m; width, 5 m), extending 70 m into the secondary forest; 18 quadrats of old-growth forest were surveyed. Edge effects of old-growth forest were found to play an important role in re-establishing lucidophyllous saplings and seedlings in the secondary forest. In particular, the abundances of the four dominant canopy species of the old-growth forest significantly decreased with increasing distance. Hence, they are expected to colonize further into the secondary forest and, ultimately, to dominate the canopy. However, the number of lucidophyllous species did not change with distance. Species such as Ficus nipponica, Damnacanthus indicus, Ilex integra, and Lemmaphyllum microphyllum were near-completely or completely limited to the old-growth forest. They are known to be negatively affected by forest fragmentation and were observed to be struggling to colonize the exterior of the old-growth forest even after 60 years of abandonment. Their absence highlighted the limited colonization capacities of some old-growth forest species and underlined the time required for habitat restoration following human disturbance. We conclude that it is important to consider the population dynamics of dominant canopy species and the colonization of these interior species when assessing the habitat expansion of lucidophyllous species and hence the restoration of degraded lands.
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