Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2020, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (9): 1523-1533.doi: 10.1007/s11442-020-1797-5

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial patterns of Pinus tabulaeformis and Pinus massoniana forests in Qinling-Daba Mountains and the boundary of subtropical and warm temperate zones

YAO Yonghui1(), HU Yufan1,2, KOU Zhixiang1,2, ZHANG Baiping1   

  1. 1. State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environment Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2019-10-14 Accepted:2019-12-18 Online:2020-09-25 Published:2020-11-25
  • About author:Yao Yonghui (1975–), PhD and Associate Professor, specialized in GIS/RS application and mountain environment. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41871350);Scientific and Technological Basic Resources Survey Project(2017FY100900)


The Qinling Mountains is not only the geographical boundary between North and South China, but also the boundary between subtropical and warm temperate zones. It plays an important role in the geo-ecological pattern of China. However, there is controversy about the specific location of this geographical boundary in academic community due to the complexity, transition and heterogeneity of the transitional zone, as well as the differences in the delimitation indicators and research purposes. To further reveal the characteristics of the North-South transitional zone and clarify the specific location of the geo-ecological boundary between North and South China, combined with SRTM topographic data, temperature and precipitation data, Pinus massoniana forest and Pinus tabulaeformis forest, which represent subtropical coniferous forest in South China and temperate coniferous forest in North China respectively, were chosen to analyze their spatial distributions in the Qinling-Daba Mountains and the climatic conditions at their boundary with the climatic indexes of annual precipitation, the coldest month (January) average temperature, the warmest month (July) average temperature and the annual average temperature. The results show that: (1) Pinus massoniana and Pinus tabulaeformis forests and the climate indicators of their boundary can be used as one of the vegetation-climate indexes for the delimitation of subtropical and warm temperate zones. The boundary between the subtropical coniferous forest (Pinus massoniana forest) and temperate coniferous forest (Pinus tabulaeformis forest) is located along the south slope of Funiu Mountain to the north edge of Hanzhong Basin (the south slope of Qinling Mountains) at an altitude of 1000-1200 m, where the climatic indictors are stable: the annual precipitation is about 750-1000 mm, the annual average temperature is about 12-14℃, the coldest monthly average temperature is 0-4℃, and the warmest monthly average temperature is about 22-26℃. (2) It can be more scientifically to delimitate the boundary of subtropical and warm temperate zones in China by comprehensively considering the vegetation-climate indicators. Additionally, the boundary between subtropical and warm temperate zones in Qinling-Daba Mountains should be a transitional zone consisting of the boundaries of coniferous forests, broad-leaved forests and shrubs between subtropical and warm temperate zones. The results provide a scientific basis for the selection of delimitation index of subtropical and warm temperate zones.

Key words: Qinling-Daba Mountains, North-South transitional zone, Pinus tabulaeformis forest, Pinus massoniana forest, climate, subtropical zone, warm temperate zone