Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2020, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (4): 642-656.doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1747-2

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Spatial variation of altitudinal belts as dividing index between warm temperate and subtropical zones in the Qinling-Daba Mountains

ZHAO Fang1,2, LIU Junjie1, ZHU Wenbo1, ZHANG Baiping3,*(), ZHU Lianqi1   

  1. 1. College of Environment and Planning, Henan University, Kaifeng 475004, Henan, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Geospatial Technology for the Middle and Lower Yellow River Regions, Henan University, Kaifeng 475004, Henan, China
    3. State Key Laboratory of Resource and Environment Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
  • Received:2020-01-06 Accepted:2020-02-10 Online:2020-04-25 Published:2020-06-25
  • Contact: ZHANG Baiping
  • About author:Zhao Fang, PhD and Lecturer, specialized in mountain physical geography and mountain ecological environment. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41601091);Scientific Research Start-up Funding of the Program Supporting Special Talent Zone (Henan University);Integrated Scientific Investigation of the North-South Transitional Zone of China(2017FY100900)


To determine the dividing index between warm temperate and subtropical zones based on the spectra of altitudinal belts, this paper collected 33 spectra of altitudinal belts in the Qinling-Daba Mountains from published literatures and then analyzed the structures and the spatial patterns from south to north, from west to east and based on exposure directions. The results show that: 1) From south to north, the basal belt gradually changes from subtropical evergreen broadleaf forest to warm temperate deciduous broadleaf forest; the spectra of altitudinal belts change from complex to simple; the dominant belt changes from montane broadleaf-conifer mixed forest and evergreen-deciduous broadleaf mixed forest to deciduous broadleaf forest. 2) From west to east, the structures of the altitudinal belt spectra show complexity in the east and west but simplicity in the middle section; the upper limits of both the evergreen-deciduous broadleaf mixed forest belt and montane deciduous broadleaf forest belt present a quadratic curve distribution pattern in the longitudinal direction. However, the upper limit of the montane broadleaf-conifer mixed forest belt exhibits a nearly linear decrease in the west-east direction. 3) Both the north and south slopes in the Qinling Mountains have the similar basal belt, whereas it varies greatly between the north and south slopes in the Daba Mountains. Comparably, dominant belts are very similar in the Qinling Mountains and the north slope of the Daba Mountains, but the south slope of the Daba Mountains has its own unique dominant belt: evergreen-deciduous broadleaf mixed forest. This implies that the Daba Mountains are more appropriate than the Qinling Mountains to act as the boundary between subtropical and warm-temperate zones in central China.

Key words: Qinling-Daba Mountains, mountain altitudinal belt, latitude, longitude, quadratic curve