Plant Diversity ›› 2017, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (04): 221-228.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2017.07.002

• Articles • Previous Articles    

How cushion communities are maintained in alpine ecosystems:A review and case study on alpine cushion plant reproduction

Jianguo Chena, Yanbo Lia,b, Yang Yanga, Hang Suna   

  1. a Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming, Yunnan, China;
    b University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2017-03-30 Revised:2017-07-18 Published:2021-11-05
  • Contact: Yang Yang, Hang Sun
  • Supported by:
    This work was supported by grants from the National Key Research and Development Program of China (grant no. 2017YFC0505200), the Major Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 31590823) to H Sun, the Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant no. 31500185 to JG Chen, 31470321 to Y Yang).

Abstract: Cushion species occur in nearly all alpine environments worldwide. In past decades, the adaptive and ecosystem-engineering roles of such highly specialized life forms have been well studied. However, the adaptive strategies responsible for cushion species reproductive success and maintenance in severe alpine habitats remain largely unclear. In this study, we reviewed the current understanding of reproductive strategies and population persistence in alpine cushion species. We then present a preliminary case study on the sexual reproduction of Arenaria polytrichoides (Caryophyllaceae), a typical cushion species inhabiting high elevations of the Himalaya Hengduan Mountains, which is a hotspot for diversification of cushion species. Finally, we highlight the limitations of our current understanding of alpine cushion species reproduction and propose future directions for study.

Key words: Alpine ecosystem, Cushion plant, Community recruitment, Growth rate, Life-span, Reproduction