Advertisement

Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 181–192 | Cite as

Alpine ecosystems of northwest Yunnan, China: an initial assessment for conservation

  • Ruth ShermanEmail author
  • Renee Mullen
  • Li Haomin 
  • Fang Zhendong 
  • Wang Yi 
Article

Abstract

Implementing conservation actions on-the-ground is not a straightforward process, especially when faced with high scientific uncertainty due to limited available information. This is especially acute in regions of the world that harbor many unique species that have not been well studied, such as the alpine zone of the Hengduan Mountains of Northwest Yunnan (NWY), a global biodiversity hotspot and site of The Nature Conservancy’s Yunnan Great Rivers Project. We conducted a quantitative, but rapid regional-level assessment of the alpine flora across NWY to provide a broad-based understanding of local and regional patterns of the alpine flora, the first large-scale analysis of alpine biodiversity patterns in this region. Multivariate analyses were used to classify the major plant community types and link community patterns to habitat variables. Our analysis indicated that most species had small distributions and/or small population sizes. Strong patterns emerged with higher diversity in the more northern mountains, but beta diversity was high, averaging only 10% among sites. The ordinations indicated that elevation and geographic location were the dominant environ-mental gradients underlying the differences in the species composition among communities. The high beta diversity across the alpine of these mountains implies that conservation strategies ultimately will require the protection of large numbers of species over a large geographical area. However, prioritization should be given to areas where potential payoffs are greatest. Sites with high species richness also have a greater number of endemic species, and, by focusing efforts on these sites, conservation investments would be maximized by protecting the greatest number of unique species.

Keywords

Biodiversity hotspot cluster analysis plant community ecology conservation action grazing Hengduan Mountains non-metric multidimensional scaling plant species richness World Heritage Site Yunnan Great Rivers Project (YGRP) alpine ecosystems China 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Baker, B., Moseley, R. 2007. Changes in the Hengduan Mountains: Advancing treeline and retreating glaciers. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research 39: 200–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baker, B., Bachelet, D., Daly, C., Jian, M., Moseley, R., Xuezheng, S., Shlisky, A., Jihua, S. 2005. (http://conserveonline.org/docs/2006/02/Baker_et_al_2005_GLOCHAMORE.pdf)
  3. Bandyopadhyay, J. 1992. The Himalaya: Prospects for and constraints on sustainable development. In: Stone, P.B. The State of the World’s Mountains (ed.), Pp. 93–126. Zed Books Ltd., London and New Jersey.Google Scholar
  4. Barthlott, W., Lauer, W., Placke, A. 1996. Global distribution of species diversity in vascular plants: towards a world map of phytodiversity. Erdkunde 50: 317–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Boufford, D., Dijk, P. 1999. South-central China. In: Mettermeier, R.A., Myers, N., Mittermeier, C.G. (eds.) Hotspots: Earth’s Biologically richest and most endangered terrestrial ecoregions, Cemex, Mexico City, Pp. 339–350Google Scholar
  6. Buntaine, M.T., Mullen, R.B., Lassoie, J.P. 2006. Human use and conservation planning in alpine areas of northwestern Yunnan, China. Environment, Development and Sustainability, Published Online: 21 Feb. 2006. (http://www.springerlink.com/content/1573-2975/?k=buntaine)
  7. Clarke, K.R. 1993. Non-parametric multivariate analyses of changes in community structure. Australian Journal of Ecology 18: 117–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Colwell, R.K. 2005. EstimateS: Statistical estimation of species richness and shared species from samples. Version 7.5. User’s Guide and application published at: http://purl.oclc.org/estimates.
  9. CI. 2006. Conservation International’s Biodiversity Hotspots. http://www.biodiversityhotspots.org/xp/Hotspots/china
  10. Deng, M., Zhou, Z.K. 2004. Seed plant diversity on screes from northwest Yunnan. Acta Botanica Yunnanica 26: 23–34.Google Scholar
  11. Erschbamer, B., Virtanen, R., Nagy, L. 2003. The impacts of vertebrate grazers on vegetation in European high mountains. In: Nagy L, Grabherr G, Körner Ch, Thompson, D.B.A. (ed.) Alpine Biodiversity in Europe, Berlin, Springer-Verlag, Pp. 377–396.Google Scholar
  12. Ferrier, S., Pressey, R.L., Barrett, T.W. 2000. A new predictor of the irreplaceability. of areas for achieving a conservation goal, its applicability to real-world planning, and a research agenda for further refinement. Biological Conservation 93: 303–325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ge, X.J., Zhang, L.B., Yuan, Y.M., Hao, G., Chiang, T.Y. 2005. Strong genetic differentiation of the East-Himalayan Megacodon stylophorus (Gentianaceae) detected by inter-simple sequence repeats (ISSR). Biodiversity and Conservation 14: 849–861.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Groves, C.R., Jensen, D.B., Valutis, L.L., Redford, K.H., Shaffer, M.L., Scott, J.M., Baumgartner, J.V., Higgins, J.V., Beck, M.W., Anderson, M.G. 2000. Planning for biodiversity conservation: Putting conservation science into practice. Bioscience 52:499–512.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hobohm, C. 2003. Characterization and ranking of biodiversity hotspots: centres of species richness and endemism. Biodiversity and Conservation 12: 279–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Klotzi, F. 1997. Biodiversity and vegetation belts in tropical and subtropical mountains. In: Messerli, B., Ives, J.D. (eds.) Mountains of the World: a Global Priority, Parthenon Publishing Group, New York. Pp. 232–235.Google Scholar
  17. Körner, Ch. 2003. Alpine Plant Life. Functional Plant Ecology of High Mountain ecosystems, Vol 2E, Springer-Verlag, Berlin-Heidelberg.Google Scholar
  18. Kruskal, J.B. 1964. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling: a numerical method. Psychometrika 29:1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ma, C.L., Moseley, R.K., Chen, W.Y., Zhou, Z.K. 2007. Plant diversity and priority conservation areas of Northwestern Yunnan, China. Biodiversity and Conservation 16: 757–774.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mather, P.M. 1976. Computational methods of multivariate analysis in physical geography. J. Wiley & Sons, London. 532 Pp.Google Scholar
  21. McCune, B., Grace, J.B. 2002. Analysis of Ecological Communities. MjM Software Design, Gleneden Beach, Oregon, USA.Google Scholar
  22. McCune, B., Mefford, M.J. 1999. PC-ORD. Multivariate Analysis of Ecological Data. MjM Software Design, Gleneden Beach, Oregon, USA.Google Scholar
  23. McNab, W.H. 1989. Terrain shape index: quantifying effect of minor landforms on tree height. Forest Science 35: 91–104.Google Scholar
  24. Meihe, G. 1997. Alpine vegetation types of the central Himalaya. In: Wiegolaski, F.E. (ed.) Ecosystems of the World 3. Polar and Alpine Tundra. Amsterdam. Pp 161–184.Google Scholar
  25. Miller, D.J. 2000. Impacts of grazing in Himalayan and Tibetan Plateau rangelands. Northern Plains Associates (http://www.mtnforum.org)
  26. Mittermeier, R., Meyers, N., Mittermeier, N., Gil, P., Ford, H. 1999. Hot spots: Earth’s biologically richest and most endangered terrestrial ecoregions. Cemex, Conservation Int., Mexico City.Google Scholar
  27. Mohamed-Saleem, M.A., Woldu, Z. 2002. Land use and biodiversity in the upland pastures in Ethiopia. In: Körner, Ch., Spehn, E.M. (eds.) Mountain Biodiversity: A Global Assessment, Boca Raton, Parthenon Publishing Group, Pp. 277–282.Google Scholar
  28. Myers, N., Mittermeier, R.A., Mittermeier, C.G., da Fonseca, G.A.B., Kent, J. 2000. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403: 853–858.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Olson, D.M., Dinerstein, E. 1998. The Global 200: a representation approach to conserving Earth’s most biologically valuable ecoregions. Conservation Biology 12:502–515.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. OSU-SCAS. 2006. The Climate Source, Inc. Oregon State University. (http://www.climatesource.com/cn/fact_sheets/yunnanppt_xl.jpg)
  31. Pressey, R.L., Johnson, I.R., Wilson, P.D. 1994. Shades of irreplaceability: towards a measure of the contribution of sites to a reservation goal. Biodiversity and Conservation 3: 242–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Salick, J., Anderson, J.D., Woo, J., Sherman, R.E., Cili, N., Yin, X.Z., Na, A., Sonam, Dorje. 2004. Tibetan ethnobotany and gradient analysis: Menri (Medicine Mountains), Eastern Himalayas. In The Millenium Ecosystem Assessment. Bridging Scales and Epistemologies: Linking Local Knowledge and Global Science in Multi-Scale Assessments. Alexandria, Egypt. (http://www.millenniumassessment.org/en/about.Meetings.bridging.proceedings.aspx#2j)
  33. TNC. 2006. The Nature Conservancy in China. (http://www.nature.org/wherewework/asiapacific/china/strategies)
  34. Vane-Wright, R.I. 1996. Identifying priorities for the conservation of biodiversity: systematic biological criteria within a socio-political framework. In: Gaston, K.J. (ed.) Biodiversity: A Biology of Numbers and Difference, Blackwell, Oxford Pp. 309–344.Google Scholar
  35. Xu, G., Kruse, C. 2003. Economic impact of tourism in China. In: Lew, A.A., Yu, L., Ap, J., Zhang, G.R. (eds.) Tourism in China, New York, Haworth Hospitality Press, Pp. 83–102.Google Scholar
  36. Xu, J., Wilkes, A. 2003. Biodiversity impact analysis in northwest Yunnan, southwest China. Biodiversity and Conservation 13: 959–983.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Xu, J., Fox, J., Lu, X., Podger, N., Leisz, S., Ai, X. 1999. Effects of Swidden Cultivation, State Policies, and Customary Institutions on Land Cover in a Hani Village, Yunnan, China. Mountain Research and Development 19(2):123–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. YGRPPT (Yunnan Great Rivers Project Planning Team). 2002. Yunnan Great Rivers Project: Northwestern Yunnan Ecoregional Conservation Assessment, Kunming, China, The Nature Conservancy.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ruth Sherman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Renee Mullen
    • 2
  • Li Haomin 
    • 3
  • Fang Zhendong 
    • 4
  • Wang Yi 
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.The Nature ConservancyBoiseUSA
  3. 3.The Nature ConservancyChina ProgramKunmingPRC
  4. 4.Shangri-la Alpine Botanical InstituteZhongdianPRC
  5. 5.State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of BotanyThe Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPRC

Personalised recommendations