Vegetation development patterns on skislopes in lowland Hokkaido, northern Japan.
The Japanese montane zones are usually covered with well-developed forests, and most ski resorts are constructed there. Therefore, the construction of skislopes requires the destruction of forest ecosystems. To detect vegetation development patterns on skislopes, I assessed vegetation on seven skislopes in the lowland of Hokkaido Island, Japan, using 155 2 m × 2 m plots. The surrounding vegetation was mostly consisted of broad-leaved forests with a floor of dwarf bamboo, Sasa senanensis. The skislopes were established 5-28 years before the surveys by scraping off the topsoil and subsequent artificial seeding. The data of vegetation analysed by TWINSPAN resulted in six different grassland types: (A) Miscanthus sinensis-Hypochaeris radicata, (B) introduced herbs with low richness, (C) introduced herbs, (D) Artemisia montana, (E) M. sinensis-Pueraria lobata-A. montana, and (F) Solidago gigantea var. leiophylla. H. radicata and S. gigantea var. leiophylla were alien species. Vegetation dominated by introduced grasses for erosion control, such as Dactylis glomerata and Poa pratensis, should be initial vegetation on the skislopes. Most tree pioneer species established in the vegetation type A, that was most natural vegetation in the skislopes. Type A seemed to proceed from types B and C, and species richness was the highest. Therefore, this type should be preferable for the management and restoration of skislope vegetation. Type D established on newer skislopes, while types E and F established on older skislopes. Results including detrended correspondence analysis suggested that those vegetation types D-F proceeded to distorted succession, i.e. biological invasion changed native successional sere. Based on these results, I recommended that the restriction of alien invasion and careful monitoring on M. sinensis grasslands are required to restore the natural vegetation.