25 July 2019, Volume 29 Issue 7 Previous Issue   
Orginal Article
The emerging cross-disciplinary studies of landscape ecology and biodiversity in China
Zehao SHEN, Yiying LI, Kang YANG, Lifang CHEN
2019, 29 (7):  1063-1080.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1645-7
Abstract ( 111 )   HTML ( 18 )   PDF (508KB) ( 114 )  

The spatiotemporal landscape heterogeneity implies multiple biodiversity mechanisms across scales, and the cross-disciplinary studies between landscape ecology and biodiversity are becoming a new research field in China. This paper briefly reviews the development of the field by comparing papers published in international journals and Chinese journals; then it investigates the differences in the trends and focuses between international and Chinese studies. We also introduce several study areas that have emerged over the last 10 years in this field, including metacommunity assembly, landscape genetics, biodiversity and ecosystem service relationship, and landscape planning for biodiversity conservation. The major advances emerging in this field in China over the past 5 years can be classified into six subject areas: 1) effects of urban landscape and urbanization on biodiversity; 2) altitudinal patterns of biodiversity in mountain landscapes; 3) effects of topographic heterogeneity on plant community assembly and species coexistence; 4) impacts of landscape patterns and processes on animal behaviors; 5) forest fires and spatiotemporal patterns of vegetation responses; and 6) landscape ecology applications in natural conservation planning and design. In an attempt to promote cross-field studies between geography and ecology, this special issue collected 10 research articles, involving multiple landscape types and biological assemblages, in order to explore the interaction between landscape features and biodiversity. We anticipate that the future development of this active front will be primarily driven by the application of novel information techniques and the realistic demands of sustainability issues, in addition to answering scientific questions cross scales.

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How forest gaps shaped plant diversity along an elevational gradient in Wolong National Nature Reserve?
Li CHEN, Wangya HAN, Dan LIU, Guohua LIU
2019, 29 (7):  1081-1097.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1646-6
Abstract ( 40 )   HTML ( 11 )   PDF (1204KB) ( 43 )  

Understanding the underlying ecological processes that control plant diversity within (α-diversity) and among (β-diversity) forest gaps is important for managing natural forest ecosystems, and it is also a prerequisite for identifying the formation and maintenance mechanisms of forest plant communities. In this study, we focused on the interrelationships among habitat type (gap/non-gap plots), gap size, elevation and environmental factors, and we explored their effects on plant diversity (α-diversity and β-diversity). To do this, a total of 21 non-gap (i.e., closed canopy) plots (100 m2) and 63 gap plots, including 21 with large gaps (200-410 m2), 21 with medium gaps (100-200 m2) and 21 with small gaps (38.5- 100 m2),were selected along an elevational gradient in a subalpine coniferous forest of southwestern China. Using structural equation models (SEMs), we analyzed how forest gaps affected plant diversity (α-diversity and β-diversity) along an elevational gradient. The results showed that (1) as elevation increased, unimodal patterns of α-diversity were found in different-sized gaps, and β-diversity showed a consistent sinusoidal function pattern in different-sized gaps. The gap size was positively related to α-diversity, but this effect disappeared above 3500 masl. Moreover, the patterns of α-diversity and β-diversity in non-gap plots were irregular along the elevational gradient. (2) SEMs demonstrated that many environmental factors, such as the annual mean air temperature (AMAT), ultraviolet-A radiation (365 nm, UV-A365), ultraviolet-B1 radiation (297 nm, UV-B297), moss thickness (MT), soil carbon/nitrogen ratio (C/N ratio), NH4-N and NO3-N, were significantly affected by elevation, which then affected α-diversity and β-diversity. The photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD), UV-A365 and UV-B297 were significantly higher in plots with forest gaps than in the non-gap plots. Moreover, the PPFD and UV-A365 were positively and directly affected by gap size. Surprisingly, except for the NH4-N and the C/N ratios, the below-ground environmental factors showed little or no relationships with forest gaps. All of these effects contributed to plant diversity. Overall, the above-ground environmental factors were more sensitive to gap-forming disturbances than the below-ground environmental factors, which affected α-diversity and β-diversity. The predicted pathway in the SEMs of the elevational effects on α-diversity and β-diversity was relatively complicated compared with the effects of forest gaps. These results can provide valuable insights into the underlying mechanisms driving the diversity-habitat relationship in the subalpine coniferous forests of southwestern China.

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Anthropogenic effect on forest landscape pattern and Cervidae habitats in northeastern China
Wen WU, Yuehui LI, Yuanman HU, Yu CHANG, Zaiping XIONG
2019, 29 (7):  1098-1112.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1647-5
Abstract ( 67 )   HTML ( 7 )   PDF (778KB) ( 41 )  

Species abundance and habitat distribution are two important aspects of species conservation studies and both are affected by similar environmental factors. Forest resource inventory data in 2010 were used to evaluate the patterns of habitat for target species of Cervidae in six typical forestry bureaus of the Yichun forest area in the Lesser Xing’an Mountains, northeastern China. A habitat suitability index (HSI) model was used based on elevation, slope, aspect, vegetation and age of tree. These five environmental factors were selected by boosted regression tree (BRT) analysis from 14 environmental variables collected during field surveys. Changes in habitat caused by anthropogenic activities mainly involving settlement and road factors were also considered. The results identified 1780.49 km2 of most-suitable and 1770.70 km2 of unsuitable habitat areas under natural conditions, covering 16.38% and 16.29% of the entire study area, respectively. The area of most-suitable habitat had been reduced by 4.86% when human interference was taken into account, whereas the unsuitable habitat area had increased by 11.3%, indicating that anthropogenic disturbance turned some potential habitats into unsuitable ones. Landscape metrics indicated that average patch area declined while patch density and edge density increased. This suggests that as habitat becomes fragmented and its quality becomes degraded by human activities, cervid populations will be threatened with extirpation. The study helped identify the spatial extent of habitat influenced by anthropogenic interference for the local cervid population. As cervid species clearly avoid human activities, more attention should be paid on considering the way and intensity of human activities for habitat management as fully as possible.

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The response of spiders to less-focused non-crop habitats in the agricultural landscape along the lower reach of the Yellow River
Xiaoyun HOU, Shengyan DING, Shuang ZHAO, Xiaobo LIU
2019, 29 (7):  1113-1126.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1648-4
Abstract ( 28 )   HTML ( 1 )   PDF (751KB) ( 17 )  

Non-crop habitats have been suggested to impact local biodiversity significantly in agricultural landscapes. However, there have been few studies of the effects of less-focused non-crop habitats (orchard, wetland, pit and ditch) on variation of spider abundance. In this study, spiders in 30 woodlands were captured using pitfall traps in Fengqiu County, China, and the effects of local and landscape variations at different scales (50 m, 100 m, 200 m, 350 m and 500 m) on spider abundance were analysed. The most important variation that influenced spider abundance at the 500 m scale was the less-focused non-crop habitat (LNH) cover, and 10% was an appropriate proportion of LNH cover to sustain high level of spider diversity in the investigated landscape. Non-metric multidimensional scaling analyses revealed that there were significant differences in the spider composition among the high, medium and low LNH coverage. Based on indicator species analysis, different spider species were associated with landscapes with different levels of LNH cover. Lycosidae, which accounted for 48% of the total specimens, preferred woodland habitats neighbouring areas with high LNH cover. Compared with woodland habitats, LNH provided more diverse food sources and habitat to sustain more spider species in the study area. Furthermore, linear elements composed of vegetation, such as pits and ditches, may prevent agricultural intensification by enhancing landscape connectivity and providing habitats for different spiders. Our findings may provide a theoretical basis for biodiversity conservation in agro-ecosystems and top-down control of pests.

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Plant functional traits and microbes vary with position on striped periglacial patterned ground at Glacier National Park, Montana
Martha Elizabeth APPLE, Macy Kara RICKETTS, Alice Caroline MARTIN
2019, 29 (7):  1127-1141.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1649-3
Abstract ( 39 )   HTML ( 3 )   PDF (1397KB) ( 20 )  

The retreating snowfields and glaciers of Glacier National Park, Montana, USA, present alpine plants with changes in habitat and hydrology. The adjacent and relic periglacial patterned ground consists of solifluction terraces of green, vegetation-rich stripes alternating with sparsely vegetated brown stripes. We established georeferenced transects on striped periglacial patterned ground for long-term monitoring and data collection on species distribution and plant functional traits at Siyeh Pass and at Piegan Pass at Glacier National Park. We documented species distribution and calculated the relative percent cover (RPC) of qualitative functional traits and used 16S rRNA from soil samples to characterize microbial distribution on green and brown stripes. Plant species distribution varied significantly and there were key differences in microbial distribution between the green and brown stripes. The rare arctic-alpine plants Draba macounii, Papaver pygmaeum, and Sagina nivalis were restricted to brown stripes, where the RPC of xeromorphic taprooted species was significantly higher at the leading edge of the Siyeh Pass snowfield. Brown stripes had a higher percentage of the thermophilic bacteria Thermacetogenium and Thermoflavimicrobium. Green stripes were co-dominated by the adventitiously-rooted dwarf shrubs Salix arctica and the possibly N-fixing Dryas octopetala. Green stripes were inhabited by Krummholz and seedlings of Abies lasiocarpa and Pinus albicaulus. Prosthecobacter, a hydrophilic bacterial genus, was more abundant on the green stripes, which had 6,524 bacterial sequences in comparison to the 1,183 sequences from the brown stripes. While further research can determine which functional traits are critical for these plants, knowledge of the current distribution of plant species and their functional traits can be used in predictive models of the responses of alpine plants to disappearing snowfields and glaciers. This research is important in conservation of rare arctic-alpine species on periglacial patterned ground.

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Effects of current climate, paleo-climate, and habitat heterogeneity in determining biogeographical patterns of evergreen broad-leaved woody plants in China
Yue XU, Zehao SHEN, Lingxiao YING, Runguo ZANG, Youxu JIANG
2019, 29 (7):  1142-1158.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1650-x
Abstract ( 76 )   HTML ( 2 )   PDF (2272KB) ( 27 )  

Understanding biogeographic patterns and the mechanisms underlying them has been a main issue in macroecology and biogeography, and has implications for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem sustainability. Evergreen broad-leaved woody plants (EBWPs) are important components of numerous biomes and are the main contributors to the flora south of 35°N in China. We calculated the grid cell values of species richness (SR) for a total of 6265 EBWP species in China, including its four growth-forms (i.e., tree, shrub, vine, and bamboo), and estimated their phylogenetic structure using the standardized phylogenetic diversity (SPD) and net relatedness index (NRI). Then we linked the three biogeographical patterns that were observed with each single environmental variable representing the current climate, the last glacial maximum (LGM)-present climate variability, and habitat heterogeneity, using ordinary least squares regression with a modified t-test to account for spatial autocorrelation. The partial regression method based on a general linear model was used to decompose the contributions of current and historical environmental factors to the biogeographical patterns observed. The results showed that most regions with high numbers of EBWP species and phylogenetic diversity were distributed in tropical and subtropical mountains with evergreen shrubs extending to Northeast China. Current mean annual precipitation was the best single predictor. Topographic variation and its effect on temperature variation was the best single predictor for SPD and NRI. Partial regression indicated that the current climate dominated the SR patterns of Chinese EBWPs. The effect of paleo-climate variation on SR patterns mostly overlapped with that of the current climate. In contrast, the phylogenetic structure represented by SPD and NRI was constrained by paleo-climate to much larger extents than diversity, which was reflected by the LGM-present climate variation and topography-derived habitat heterogeneity in China. Our study highlights the importance of embedding multiple dimensions of biodiversity into a temporally hierarchical framework for understanding the biogeographical patterns, and provides important baseline information for predicting shifts in plant diversity under climate change.

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The effects of urbanization on ecosystem services for biodiversity conservation in southernmost Yunnan Province, Southwest China
Fangyan CHENG, Shiliang LIU, Xiaoyun HOU, Xue WU, Shikui DONG, COXIXO Ana
2019, 29 (7):  1159-1178.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1651-9
Abstract ( 54 )   HTML ( 5 )   PDF (4878KB) ( 44 )  

Urbanization can profoundly influence the ecosystem service for biodiversity conservation. However, few studies have investigated this effect, which is significant for maintaining regional sustainable development. We take the rapidly developing, mountainous and biodiversity hotspot region, Jinghong, in southern Yunnan Province as the case study. An integrated ecosystem service model (PANDORA) is used to evaluate this regional BESV (ecosystem service value for biodiversity conservation). The modeled BESV is sensitive to landscape connectivity changes. From the 1970s to 2010, regional urban lands increased from 18.64 km2 to 36.81 km2, while the BESV decreased from $6.08 million year-1 to $5.32 million year-1. Along with distance gradients from the city center to the fringe, BESV varies as an approximate hump-shaped pattern. Because correlation analysis reveals a stronger influence of landscape composition on spatial BESV estimates than the landscape configuration does, we conclude that the projected urban expansion will accelerate the BESV reduction. Of the projected urban land, 95% will show a decreasing BESV trend by approximately $2 m-2 year-1. To prevent this, we recommend compact urban planning for the mountainous city.

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Moisture content variations in soil and plant of post-fire regenerating forests in central Yunnan Plateau, Southwest China
Lifang CHEN, Qun DOU, Zhiming ZHANG, Zehao SHEN
2019, 29 (7):  1179-1192.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1652-8
Abstract ( 60 )   HTML ( 3 )   PDF (1034KB) ( 20 )  

Plant moisture content (PMC) is used as an indicator of forest flammability, which is assumed to be affected by climate drought. However, the fire-induced drought stress on PMC and its spatial and temporal variations are unclear. Based on a parallel monitoring experiment from 2014 to 2015, this study compared the PMCs and soil moisture contents (SMC) at five post-fire sites in central Yunnan Plateau, Southwest China. The number of years since last fire (YSF), season, topographic position, plant species and tissue type (leaf and branch) were selected as causal factors of the variations in PMC and SMC. A whole year parallel monitoring and sampling in the post-fire communities of 1, 2, 5, 11 and 30 YSF indicated that drought stress in surface soils was the strongest in spring within the first 5 years after burning, and the SMC was regulated by topography, with 64.6% variation in soil moisture accounted for by YSF (25.7%), slope position (22.1%) and season (10.8%). The temporal variations of PMC and SMC differed at both interannual and seasonal scales, but the patterns were consistent across topographic positions. PMC differed significantly between leaves and branches, and among three growth-forms. The mean PMC was lower in broad-leaved evergreen species and higher in conifer species. Season and soil temperature were the primary determinants of PMC, accounting for 19.1% and 8.3% of variation in PMC, respectively. This indicated phenology-related growth rather than drought stress in soil as the primary driver of seasonal changes in PMC. The significant variations of PMC among growth forms and species revealed that seasonal soil temperature change and dominant species in forest communities are useful indicators of fire risk assessment in this region.

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Integration of InVEST-habitat quality model with landscape pattern indexes to assess mountain plant biodiversity change: A case study of Bailongjiang watershed in Gansu Province
Jie GONG, Yuchu XIE, Erjia CAO, Qiuyan Huang, Hongying LI
2019, 29 (7):  1193-1210.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1653-7
Abstract ( 48 )   HTML ( 5 )   PDF (2760KB) ( 33 )  

Mountains in western China, hosted rich biodiversity and millions of people and inhabitant with vital ecosystem services, had experienced the most serious biodiversity loss with fragile ecological problems. Even though increasing attentions had been paid to this issue, we still lacked efficient methods to assess the change of plant biodiversity at medium/large scale due to the poor data and co-existing multiple habitat types. This study proposed an integrated method combining InVEST-habitat quality model, NPP and landscape pattern indexes to analyze the spatial heterogeneity of plant biodiversity and its spatiotemporal change on raster cell scale. The results indicated that plant biodiversity service was high in Bailongjiang watershed with obvious spatial pattern variations. The land area containing higher plant biodiversity were 3161 km2, which mainly distributed in the National Nature Reserve and forestry area. While the areas with lower plant biodiversity accounted for 37.67% and mainly distributed in the valleys between Zhouqu-Wudu-Wenxian County, the valley of Minjiang in Tanchang County and alpine mountain snow-covered regions. During 1990-2010, plant biodiversity level tended to increase and the higher plant biodiversity area increased from 14.13% to 17.15% due to ecological restoration and afforestation, while plant biodiversity decreased in the area with intensive human activities, such as cultivated land, urban and rural land. The results showed that combining InVEST-habitat quality model, NPP and landscape pattern indexes can effective reveal mountain plant biodiversity change. The study was useful for plant biodiversity conservation policy-making and human activity management for the disaster-impacted mountainous areas in China.

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Potential priority areas and protection network for Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus bieti) in Southwest China
Xukun SU, Wangya HAN, Guohua LIU
2019, 29 (7):  1211-1227.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1654-6
Abstract ( 28 )   HTML ( 3 )   PDF (4621KB) ( 11 )  

In Southwest China, five Nature Reserves (NRs) (Mangkang, Baimaxueshan, Yunling, Habaxueshan, and Yunlongtianchi) play a key role in protecting the endemic and endangered Yunnan snub-nosed monkey (YSM) (Rhinopithecus bieti). However, increasing human activities threaten its habitats and corridors. We used a GIS-based Niche Model to delineate potential core habitats (PCHs) of the YSMs and a Linkage Mapper corridor simulation tool to restore potential connectivity corridors (PCCs), and defined five scenarios. A normalized importance value index (NIVI) was established to identify the protection priority areas (PPAs) for the YSMs for five scenarios. The results indicated that locations of the habitats and corridors were different in the five scenarios, thereby influencing the distribution of the PPAs and protection network of the YSMs. The NIVI value of Baimaxueshan nature reserve was 1 in the five scenarios, which implied the maximum importance. There were only 7 PCHs and 16 PCCs (with the longest average length of 223.13 km) which were mainly located around 5 NRs in scenario III. The protection network of the YSMs was composed of 16 PCHs, 18 PCCs, and 5 NRs. Under each scenario, most of the PCHs and the PCCs were located in the south of the study area. The five NRs only covered 2 PPAs of the YSMs. We suggest that the southern part of the study area needs to be strictly protected and human activities should be limited. The area of the five NRs should be expanded to maximize protection of the YSMs in the future.

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Identifying multispecies dispersal corridor priorities based on circuit theory: A case study in Xishuangbanna, Southwest China
Yijie YIN, Shiliang LIU, Yongxiu SUN, Shuang ZHAO, Yi AN, Shikui DONG, COXIXO Ana
2019, 29 (7):  1228-1242.  doi: 10.1007/s11442-019-1655-5
Abstract ( 49 )   HTML ( 4 )   PDF (3613KB) ( 26 )  

Ecological corridor networks can efficiently improve regional landscape connectivity. Corridors for multiple faunal species movements are receiving increasing attention and graph theory is considered a promising way to explore landscape connectivity. In Xishuangbanna, the circuit theory was applied to explore the corridor networks for biodiversity for the first time. In addition, disturbances caused by the road network and the protection efficiency of National Nature Reserves and planned area for corridors were evaluated. Results indicated that the regional corridor networks could be estimated using a modified circuit method and Zonation model. Spatially, the key corridors were concentrated in the central-western, southeastern and northern regions. We detected 66 main intersections between key corridors and the road buffer. Of these points, 65% are forest, 23% grassland and 12% farmland. More than half of the area of National Nature Reserves constituted the top 50% of the corridors, and the planned corridor areas could efficiently protect some key corridors. However, these reserves only protected about 17% of regional key corridors, and the corridor conservation area in the western and northern regions were absent. The issues addressed in our study aided in the elucidation of the importance of regional landscape connectivity assessments and operational approaches in conservation planning.

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