Surprisingly high orchid diversity in travertine and forest areas in the Huanglong valley, China, and implications for conservation
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- Huang, BQ., Yang, XQ., Yu, FH. et al. Biodivers Conserv (2008) 17: 2773. doi:10.1007/s10531-007-9291-2
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The presence of such a large number of terrestrial orchid species in a small area (ca. 1 km2) of the Huanglong valley in southwestern China is uncommon for this country. Studying the relationship between the distribution patterns of these orchid species and their microenvironments may help us understand this uncommon phenomenon. We established 662 1 m × 1 m plots, measured the cover of each species and found that there were 33 orchid species distributed mainly in two different habitats, i.e. travertine areas and forest. In the travertine areas, 30 orchid species were found; the six most common ones being Cypripedium bardolphianum, Cypripedium flavum, Cypripedium tibeticum, Galearis diantha, Ponerorchis chusua and Phaius delavayi. However in the forested habitat, we found 21 orchid species; the most common ones being Tipularia szechuanica and Goodyera repens. Travertine areas had a higher number of orchid species as well as higher numbers of orchid species per plot as compared to forest. Light availability seems critical to the performance and distribution of orchid species. Stream flow through the travertine area during the orchids growing season appears to be an important factor in shaping and maintaining stable microenvironments favorable to the growth and reproduction of orchids. The results presented in this study suggest that some orchid species in the travertine area might be threatened if the travertine stream flows were to change or be disrupted.