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The effect of plant diversity on the belowground resource availability and particularly the fine characteristics of soil organic matter, has been overlooked; studies on the effects of environmental gradients on soil biodiversity generally disregard the importance of changes in plant diversity on these fine characteristics of soil organic matter [ 79 ]. However, not all plant diversity indices were affected by soil properties in the study site.

The responses of plant diversity to soil factors varied among plant life forms. Compared to trees and herbs, the d of shrubs was more sensitive to soil properties; it was significantly correlated with TN, SOM and WC. The soil samples were collected from soil surface 0—20 cm deep in this study. Surface soil had little effect on trees since they have deep roots. However, most of the root systems of shrubs were within the range of 0—20 cm. This might explain why the shrubs were more affected by soil properties in this study.

Although the distribution of the grass roots was similar to shrubs, the d of grass had no significant correlation to soil properties. The difference between herbs and shrubs could be explained by their difference in ecological habits. The dominant herb species at the study site were invasive species such as Biden spilosa L. King et H. Invasive plants tend to be more tolerant to barren soil [ 80 ], and are apt to form single dominant species communities [ 81 ].

The Plant Life of China

Communities with a single dominant species have low diversity, and the diversity index tends to be less sensitive to soil properties. Therefore, the diversity of herbs was likely easily affected by invasive plants. The NRI and NTI reflects the phylogenetic relatedness between species within a region, echoing recent evolutionary events that structure communities [ 82 , 83 ].

WC of soil played a more important role in shaping PD within the three different land use types.

Origins and evolution of plant diversity in the Hengduan Mountains, China

According to the current study, WC was an important fine-scale factor affecting plant growth, composition and diversity [ 53 , 85 , 86 ]. Other researchers have similarly determined that WC is the best predictor of plant diversity [ 87 , 88 ]. In our study site, plant richness and composition were significantly affected by elevation El , soil water content WC , total soil nitrogen TN and soil organic matter SOM. Plant diversity significantly varied among different vegetation formations.

Further research combining various diversity metrics will benefit our understanding of the ecological and evolutionary processes that shape plant diversity, which in turn, is an important property of ecosystems. Our study revealed the links between diversity, community structure, and key abiotic factors; i.

We thank the editor and two reviewers for their constructive suggestions and comments, which improved the manuscript. We also thank Dr. Xiaojing Wei for proofreading the manuscript. This study was funded by National Natural Scientific Foundation of China and and the start-up fund from Hainan University [ kyqd and kyqd zr ].

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. PLoS One. Published online Jun Jian Liu, Editor. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Received Dec 29; Accepted May This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. This article has been corrected. See PLoS One.

This article has been cited by other articles in PMC.

Abstract Anthropogenic processes and socio-economic factors play important roles in shaping plant diversity in urban parks. Introduction Plant diversity is a key property of ecosystems. Open in a separate window. Fig 1. The grid consisted of quadrats. The length of each quadrat is 1 km. Data analysis We quantified taxonomic diversity within each plot using Berger-Parker index d , Shannon index He and Pielou evenness index Je. Ethics statement Field investigation was carried out in the open air so no specific permission was required.

Table 1 Families with more than 6 species. Floristic elements In the area, Fig 2. The percentage of plant distribution types at the family and generic levels. Plant species diversity and PD Plant diversity varied among vegetation formations. Fig 3. Plant diversity indices of different life forms in different land use types.

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Fig 4. Phylogenetic diversity indices for different vegetation types. Fig 5. Scatter plots of net relatedness index NRI , nearest taxon index NTI , Shannon index He , Beger-parker index d , phylogenetic diversity PD , number of taxa ntaxa, the number of species and soil physic-chemical properties. Taxonomic diversity and PD High d values indicate that communities were dominated by a few species.

The relationship between soil properties and plant diversity Soil properties affect plant diversity. Plant diversity under poor nutrient soil conditions Plant diversity at the study site was significantly positively correlated with El, WC, TN, and SOM, and marginally significantly positively correlated with AK. XLSX Click here for additional data file.

Acknowledgments We thank the editor and two reviewers for their constructive suggestions and comments, which improved the manuscript. Funding Statement This study was funded by National Natural Scientific Foundation of China and and the start-up fund from Hainan University [ kyqd and kyqd zr ]. Data Availability All relevant data are in the paper and its Supporting Information files. References 1. Fournier B, Mouly A, Moretti M, Gillet F Contrasting processes drive alpha and beta taxonomic, functional and phylogenetic diversity of orthopteran communities in grasslands.

Ecol Lett 12 : — Faith DP Conservation evaluation and phylogenetic diversity. Biological Conservation 61 : 1— Applied Mathematics Letters 22 : — Rankin BL, Ballantyne M, Pickering CM Tourism and recreation listed as a threat for a wide diversity of vascular plants: a continental scale review. Journal of Environmental Management : — Plos One 8 : e doi: Journal of Environmental Management 96 : 64— Exploring land-use legacy effects on taxonomic and functional diversity of woody plants in a rapidly urbanizing landscape.

Landscape Urban Plan : 92— Environmentalist 19 : — Pickering CM, Hill W Impacts of recreation and tourism on plant biodiversity and vegetation in protected areas in Australia. Journal of Environmental Management 85 : doi: Environmental Management 45 : — Landsc Urban Plan : — Science : doi: Science : — Ecological Engineering : — Vegetation : — Journal of Vegetation Science 4 : — New Phytologist.

Usu volcano, Japan.

2. Plant diversity

Mycorrhiza 17 : doi: American Midland Naturalist : — Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society : — Acta Botanica Yunnanica 25 : — Veterinarska Stanica 1 : 61— Methods of Soil Analysis 72 : — Soil Science Society of America Journal 46 : — Soil sampling and methods of analysis. Proceedings:biological Sciences : doi: Remote Sensing of Environment : — Marine Sciences 36 : 57— Chinese Journal of Plant Ecologys — R package version 0: 4—0. Plos One 11 : e doi: Bioresource Technology : — Xu Y Spatial heterogeneity and its causes in evergreen broad-leaved forests in the Ailao Mountains, Yunnan Province.

Biodiversity Science Biodiversity Science 23 : — Acta Oecologica 75 : 43— Feng — , C. Wang — , W. Fang — , and H. Those two volumes, unfortunately not widely available, provide detailed documentation of the plants collected in the area, not only those gathered on Chinese expeditions, but also specimens made by earlier Chinese and western collectors. Recent comprehensive in-depth investigations and collections were carried out over a year period in a joint Sino-US project to inventory the HDM region.

Collections by David Boufford and Hang Sun and their colleagues, in collaboration with Chinese botanists and mycologists Shangwu Liu, Kaipu Yin, Yu Jia, Zhuliang Yang, collected around 30, numbers of specimens with about , duplicates. As mentioned earlier, here we define a more extensive HDM, extending west to the eastern edge of Himalayan region Sun, and including part of the Eastern Himalayan Region as defined by Takhtajan Sixty percent of the endemic species and tree species have their distribution only in the southern area.

It is clear that the southern HDM forms the core area of plant diversity.


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The greatest composition is derived from Laurasia. Tethys elements are also significant. There are still many Tethyan descendants or relics, such as Eremurus , Colutea and Salweenia in the dry valleys. The Gondwanan elements are few, but some genera are of significance.

Acanthochlamys had a different Gondwanan origin. It was a member of the flora to the south of the Tethys or in northern Gondwana, but is now a relic in the valleys of the Jinsha Jiang and its tributaries. Formania Asteraceae , also endemic to the dry valleys of the Three Rivers region, may also be Gondwanan in origin. Hyoscyameae appear to be Tethyan, but with Gondwanan affinities.

They may be descendants of the thermophilic flora of the northern warm temperate belt of the Tethys in the early Paleogene and are a northern extension of the tropical and subtropical flora of Southeast Asia and Indo-Malaysia. In addition, climatic fluctuations since the Cenozoic, such as the formation of a monsoon climate and the Quaternary glaciations, as well as the unique north—south trending parallel mountain valleys and numerous, small, complex ecological niches, promote both speciation and north—south exchanges, but also strengthen east—west isolation.

Origins and evolution of plant diversity in the Hengduan Mountains, China

All of these factors are external driving forces that promote the rapid differentiation of species. Xing and Ree suggested that the rate of species differentiation in the Hengduan Mountains area increased significantly since 8 million years ago Mya to exceed the contribution from species migration to plant diversity in the HDM region.

The rapid rate of species differentiation also coincides with the time of rapid uplift of the HDM and also supports the view that the rapid rise of the HDM in the Late Miocene Hybridization may also have been an important mechanism for the formation of plant diversity in the region due to the frequent contact of recently diverged species and incomplete reproductive isolation, as in the complex of Rhododendron delavayi—Rh. It is generally believed that hybridization triggers speciation through both allopolyploid and homoploid speciation, but so far in the HDM there are no such reports.

Until now, studies on about 90 species in the HDM region can be summed up in three ways.