The distribution and species diversity of plant communities along a 600 km transect through the northeastern Tibetan Plateau (32°42′–35°07′ N, 101°02′–97°38′ E) with altitudes from 3255 to 4460 m are described. The transect started from the Youyi Bridge of Banma through Dari, Maqin and Maduo to Zaling Lake. The data from 47 plots along the transect are summarized and analyzed. The mean annual temperature, the mean annual rainfall and the length of growing season decreases from 2.6 to −4.5 °C, from 767.2 to 240.1 mm, from 210 to 140 days, respectively, along the transect from the southeastern Banma to northwestern Zaling Lake. The number of vascular plant species recorded in 47 plots is 242 including 2 tree, 34 shrub, 206 herb species. Main vegetation types on the transect from southeast to northwest are: Sabina convallium forest, Picea likiangensis forest, Pyracantha fortuneana + Spiraea alpina shrub, Hippophae neurocarpu shrub, Sibiraea angustata + Polygonum viviparum shrub, Stellera chamaejasme herb meadow, Potentilla fruticosa + Salix obscura + Carex sp. Shrub, Kobresia capillifolia meadow, P. froticosa + Kobresia humilis shrub, Caragana jubata + S. obscura shrub, Kobresia tibetica meadow, Kobresia pygmaea meadow, K. pygmaea + Stipa purpurea steppe meadow, Stipa purpurea steppe. Plant richness and diversity index all showed a decreasing trend with increasing of elevation along transect from southeast to northwest. Detailed information on altitudinal ranges and distribution of the alpine vegetation, vascular flora and environments over the alpine zone at northeastern Tibetan Plateau provides baseline records relevant to future assessment of probable effects of global climate changes.
Distribution Plant community Species diversity Tibetan Plateau Transect