We investigated the effect of topography‐related environmental factors (i.e., ground‐surface stability and soil moisture) on seedling establishment of 8 deciduous tree species. A field experiment was carried out using canopy species, which were classified into 3 groups based on the spatial distribution of adult trees (ridge, slope and valley). Demographic parameters were compared among species during the early stage of seedling establishment among 3 topographic positions in combination with gap and canopy conditions. The percentage of emerging seedlings tended to be lower on the ridge irrespective of the adult topographical distribution patterns. There was no clear trend in seedling emergence among the species groups classified by their spatial distribution. Seedling survival during 2 growing seasons was significantly different among species, topographic positions and light conditions. On the ridge, seedlings of the species dominating ridge tops had greater survival than those of other species, probably due to differences in demand for soil moisture. On the slope, frequent physical damage caused by surface material movement was observed and some species showed greater adaptability to the disturbed slope habitat. Survival of all seedlings was highest in the valley plots. Light conditions were the critical factor for seedling survival in some species. The results of this study suggest that topography creates diverse habitats for the establishment of tree seedlings. In addition to soil moisture, surface material movement may be a significant factor affecting seedling establishment.
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Vol. 13 • No. 1