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Lucidophyllous forest development since the last glacial age in southern Kyusu, Japan, clarified of phytolith studies


, : Lucidophyllous forest development since the last glacial age in southern Kyusu, Japan, clarified of phytolith studies. Daiyonki-Kenkyu = Quaternary Research 38(2): 109-123

This study aims to clarify the development of lucidophyllous forests since the Last Glacial Age in south Kyushu using phytolith analysis. Abundant arboreal phytoliths in volcanic ash soils are used as one of the best indicators of past forest vegetation and for dating relies on several distinct tephra layers occurring within the soil. In the first stage of the Last Glacial Age, 65,000 years ago, lucidophyllous forests composed of evergreen trees such as Castanopsis occurred exclusively in Tanegashima island off the southern coast of mainland Kyushu. Then lucidophyllous forests composed of Lauraceae appeared in Satsuma Peninsula ca. 11,000 years BP. Almost the entire coastal areas of South Kyushu and inland areas had been occupied by lucidophyllous forest by ca. 6,300 years BP. Grassland vegetation composed of Pleioblastus sect. Nezasa and Miscanthus, however, occurred in the inland area where humic volcanic ash soil, Kuroboku, was formed. Dominance of lucidophyllous forests in the whole of south Kyushu as it is today was completed about 4,200 years BP. The great explosive eruption of ca. 6,300 years BP from Kikai caldera caused a spectacular volcanic disaster in Kyushu and adjacent areas. A significant change in phytolith assemblages below and above the Koya pyroclastic flow suggests that this hazardous pyroclastic flow had changed vegetation from evergreen forest to grassland represented by Miscanthus in southern Osumi and Satsuma peninsula. Recovery of lucidophyllous forests followed about 600 years after the volcanic event. In other areas of south Kyushu, where the pyroclastic flow did not arrive but only ash fell thickly, relatively minor volcanic effect on lucidophyllous forests was suggested.

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