Plant Diversity ›› 2017, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (05): 273-286.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2017.10.001

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Soil seed banks along elevational gradients in tropical, subtropical and subalpine forests in Yunnan Province, southwest China

Xiaqin Luoa,b, Min Caoa, Min Zhanga, Xiaoyang Songa,b, Jieqiong Lia, Akihiro Nakamuraa, Roger Kitchingc   

  1. a Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 666303, Yunnan, China;
    b University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 100049, Beijing, China;
    c Griffith School of Environment and Environmental Futures Research Institute, Griffith University, Nathan QLD 4111, Brisbane, Australia
  • Received:2017-03-03 Revised:2017-10-12 Online:2017-10-25 Published:2021-11-05
  • Contact: Min Cao

Abstract: Soil seed banks are a vital part of ecosystems and influence community dynamics and regeneration. Although soil seed banks in different habitats have been reported, how soil seed banks vary with elevational gradients in different climatic zones is still unknown. This paper investigates seed density, species composition and nonconstituent species of forest soil seed banks in Yunnan Province, southwest China. Similarity between the soil seed bank and standing vegetation was also examined. We collected soil samples from sites spanning 12 elevations in tropical rain forests, subtropical evergreen broadleaved forests and subalpine coniferous forests, and transported them to a glasshouse for germination trials for species identification. The soil seed banks of tropical and subtropical forests had much higher seed densities and species richness than those of subalpine forests. Seeds of woody species dominated the soil seed banks of tropical and subtropical forests, while herbs dominated those of subalpine forests. The nonconstituent species in the soil seed banks were all herbs and were most abundant in tropical forests, followed by subtropical forests but were completely absent from subalpine forests.

Key words: Elevational gradient, Soil seed bank, Standing vegetation, Subalpine forest, Subtropical forest, Tropical forest