, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 303-314
Date: 24 May 2008

Plant diversity patterns and their relationships with soil and climatic factors along an altitudinal gradient in the middle Tianshan Mountain area, Xinjiang, China

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Abstract

Patterns of plant diversity along the altitudinal gradient of Tianshan in central Xinjiang, China were examined. Plant and environment characteristics were surveyed from higher, south of Bogeda peak, to lower, north of Guerbantonggute desert. There were a total of 341 vascular plant, 295 herbage, 41 shrub, and seven tree species in the sampled plots. The plant richness of vegetation types generally showed a unimodal pattern along altitude, with a bimodal change of plant species number at 100-m intervals of altitudinal samples. The two belts of higher plant richness were in transient areas between vegetation types, the first in areas from dry grass to forest, and the second from forest to sub-alpine grass and bush. The beta diversity varied with altitudinal changes, with herbaceous species accounting for most species, and thus had similar species turnover patterns to total species. Matching the change of richness of plant species to environmental factors along altitude and correlating these by redundancy analysis revealed that the environmental factors controlling species richness and its pattern were the combined effects of temperature, precipitation, soil water, and nutrition. Water was more important at low altitude, and temperature at high altitude, and soil chemical and physical characters at middle altitudes. This study provides insights into plant diversity conservation of Bogeda Natural Reserve Areas in Tianshan Mountain.

Nomenclatures: the scientific name for plants follows Flora of China (Compiling Committee of Flora of China).