Plant Diversity ›› 2016, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (06): 295-302.DOI: 10.1016/j.pld.2016.11.001

• Articles • Previous Articles    

Combined community ecology and floristics, a synthetic study on the upper montane evergreen broad-leaved forests in Yunnan, southwestern China

Hua Zhu, Yong Chai, Shisun Zhou, Lichun Yan, Jipu Shi, Guoping Yang   

  1. Center for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xue-Fu Road 88, Kunming, Yunnan 650223, PR China
  • Received:2016-11-02 Published:2021-11-05
  • Contact: Hua Zhu
  • Supported by:
    This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 41471051, 41071040, 31170195. Prof. Richard Corlett helped improve the English of the article.

Abstract: The upper montane evergreen broad-leaved forest in Yunnan occurs mainly in the zone of persistent cloud and has a discontinuous, island-like, distribution. It is diverse, rich in endemic species, and likely to be sensitive to climate change. Six 1-ha sampling plots were established across the main distribution area of the upper montane evergreen broad-leaved forest in Yunnan. All trees with d.b.h. > 1 cm in each plot were identified. Patterns of seed plant distributions were quantified at the specific, generic and family levels. The forests are dominated by the families Fagaceae, Lauraceae, Theaceae and Magnoliaceae, but are very diverse with only a few species shared between sites. Floristic similarities at the family and generic level were high, but they were low at the specific level, with species complementarity between plots. Diversity varied greatly among sites, with greater species richness and more rare species in western Yunnan than central Yunnan. The flora is dominated by tropical biogeographical elements, mainly the pantropic and the tropical Asian distributions at the family and genus levels. In contrast, at the species level, the flora is dominated by the southwest or the southeast China distributions, including Yunnan endemics. This suggests that the flora of the upper montane forest in Yunnan could have a tropical floristic origin, and has adapted to cooler temperatures with the uplift of the Himalayas. Due to great sensitivity to climate, high endemism and species complementarity, as well as the discontinuous, island-like, distribution patterns of the upper montane forest in Yunnan, the regional conservation of the forest is especially needed.

Key words: Biogeography, Floristic composition, Montane evergreen broad-leaved forest, Physiognomy, Species diversity, Yunnan