Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 13, Issue 7, pp 1355–1372 | Cite as

Tropical rain forest fragmentation and its ecological and species diversity changes in southern Yunnan

  • H. Zhu
  • Z.F. Xu
  • H. Wang
  • B.G. Li


Three fragmented rain forests and one primary forest in southern Yunnan were plotted. The microclimate and soil conditions of these forests were also studied. The following conclusions were drawn: (1) The microclimatic differences between inside and outside forest are less in the fragmented forests than in the primary forest, which indicates that the buffer effects to climatic change have been reduced in the fragmented forests. The soil has deteriorated to some extent due to forest fragmentation. (2) In species composition, especially the abundance of some species and the dominant ranks of some families have changed with fragmentation. Barringtonia macrostachya, the most dominant species in the control primary forest, disappeared from the fragmented forests, while Antiaris toxicaria, which is a characteristic but not dominant species in the primary forest, is dominant in fragmented forests. (3) The total number of species per plot was reduced in the fragmented forests and the more seriously disturbed the fragment was, the more the species richness diminished. (4) In life form spectra, the liana and microphanerophyte species increased, but epiphyte, megaphanerophyte, mesophanerophyte and chamaephyte species decreased in the fragmented forests. (5) The plant species diversity is generally lower in the fragmented forests than in the primary forest, although for some life forms it could be higher. (6) The tree species with small populations could be lost first in the process of rain forest fragmentation. (7) The heliophilous or pioneer tree species increased and the shade-tolerant species were reduced in the fragmented forests.

Ecological factors Rainforest fragments Southern Yunnan of China Species diversity 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Barthlott W., Schmit-Neuerburg V., Nieder J. and Engwald S. 2001. Diversity and abundance of vascular epiphytes: a comparison of secondary vegetation and primary montane rain forest in the Venezuelan Andes. Plant Ecology 152: 145–156.Google Scholar
  2. Benitez-Malvido J. 1998. Impact of forest fragmentation on seedling abundance in a tropical rain forest. Conservation Biology 12: 380–389.Google Scholar
  3. Bierregaard R.O., Lovejoy T.E., Kapos V., Santos A.A. and Hutchings R.W. 1992. The biological dynamics of tropical rainforest fragments. Bioscience 42: 859–866.Google Scholar
  4. Braun-Blanquet J. 1932. Plant Sociology (translated by G.D. Fuller and H.S. Conard). McGraw-Hill, New York, pp. 52–58.Google Scholar
  5. Cadotte M.W., Franck R., Reza L. and Lovett-Doust J. 2002. Tree and shrub diversity and abundance in fragmented littoral forest of southeastern Madagascar. Biodiversity and Conservation 11: 1417–1436.Google Scholar
  6. Camargo J.L.C. and Kapos V. 1995. Complex edge effects on soil moisture and microclimate in Central Amazonian forest. Journal of Tropical Ecology 11: 205–221.Google Scholar
  7. Cao M. and Zhang J.H. 1997. Tree species diversity of tropical forest vegetation in Xishuangbanna. Biodiversity and Conservation 6: 995–1006.Google Scholar
  8. Chittibabu C.V. and Parthasarathy N. 2000. Attenuated tree species diversity in human-impacted tropical evergreen forest sites in Kolli hills, Eastern Ghats, India. Biodiversity and Conservation 9: 1493–1519.Google Scholar
  9. Connell J.H. 1978. Diversity in tropical rain forests and coral reefs. Science 199: 1302–1310.Google Scholar
  10. Corlett R.T. 1995a. The history of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. In Chin S.C. (ed) Rain Forest in the City: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore. Gardens' Bulletin Singapore Suppl. 3: 7–10.Google Scholar
  11. Corlett R.T. 1995b. Flowering plants of Bukit Timah. In Chin S.C. (ed) Rain Forest in the City: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, Singapore. Gardens' Bulletin Singapore Suppl. 3: 11–27.Google Scholar
  12. Curtis J.T. and McIntosh R.P. 1951. An upland forest continuum in the prairie-forest border region of Wisconsin. Ecology 32: 467–496.Google Scholar
  13. Diamond J.M., Bishop K.D. and Balen S.V. 1987. Bird survival in an Javan woodland: island or mirror? Conservation Biology 1: 132–142.Google Scholar
  14. Daily G.C. and Ehrlich P.R. 1995. Preservation of biodiversity in small rain forest patches: rapid evaluations using butterfly trapping. Biodiversity and Conservation 4: 35–55.Google Scholar
  15. Denslow J.S. 1980. Patterns of plant species diversity during succession under different disturbance regimes. Oecologia (Berlin) 46: 18–21.Google Scholar
  16. Ferreira L.V. and Laurance W.F. 1997. Effects of forest fragmentation on mortality and damage of selected trees in central Amazonia. Conservation Biology 11: 797–801.Google Scholar
  17. Fonseca de Souza O.F. and Brown V.K. 1994. Effects of habitat fragmentation on Amazonian termite communities. Journal of Tropical Ecology 10: 197–206.Google Scholar
  18. Fox B.J., Taylor J.E., Fox M.D. and Williams C. 1997. Vegetation change across edges of rainforest remnants. Biological Conservation 82: 1–13.Google Scholar
  19. Huston M. 1979. A general hypothesis of species diversity. American Naturalist 113: 81–101.Google Scholar
  20. Kattan G.H., Alvarez-Lopez H. and Giraldo M. 1994. Forest fragmentation and bird extinctions: San Antonio eighty years later. Conservation Biology 8: 138–146.Google Scholar
  21. Klein B.C. 1989. Effects of forest fragmentation on dung and carrion beetle communities in central Amazonia. Ecology 70: 1715–172.Google Scholar
  22. Laurance W.F. 1991. Edge effects in tropical forest fragments: application of a model for the design of nature reserves. Biological Conservation 57: 205–219.Google Scholar
  23. Laurance W.F. 1994. Rainforest fragmentation and the structure of small mammal communities in tropical Queensland. Biological Conservation 69: 23–32.Google Scholar
  24. Laurance W.F. and Bierregaard R.O. 1997. Tropical Forest Remnants: Ecology, Management, and Conservation of Fragmented Communities. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois.Google Scholar
  25. Laurance W.F., Ferreira L.V., Rankin-de-Merona J.M. and Laurance S.G. 1998a. Rain forest fragmentation and the dynamics of Amazonian tree communities. Ecology 79: 2032–2040.Google Scholar
  26. Laurance W.F., Ferreira L.V., Rankin-de Merona J.M., Laurance S.G., Hutchings R. and Lovejoy T.E. 1998b. Effects of forest fragmentation on recruitment patterns in Amazonian tree communities. Conservation Biology 12: 460–464.Google Scholar
  27. Leigh E.G., Wright S.J. Jr., Herre E.A. and Putz F.E. 1993. The decline of tree diversity on newly isolated tropical islands: a test of a null hypothesis and some implications. Evolutionary Ecology 7: 76–102.Google Scholar
  28. Liu H.M., Xu Z.F., Xu Y.K. and Wang J.X. 2002. Practice of conserving plant diversity through traditional beliefs: a case study in Xishuangbanna, southwest China. Biodiversity and Conservation 11: 705–713.Google Scholar
  29. Lovejoy T.E., Bierregaard R.O. Jr, Rylands A.B., Malcolm J.R., Quintela C.E., Harper L.H., Brown K.S. Jr, Powell A.H., Powell G.V.N., Schubart H.O.R. and Hays M. 1986. Edge and other effects of isolation on Amazon forest fragments. In: Soulé M.E. (ed) Conservation Biology: The Science of Scarcity and Diversity. Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, Massachusetts, pp. 257–285.Google Scholar
  30. Ma Y.X., Liu Y.H. and Zhang K.Y. 1998. On microclimate edge effects of tropical rainforest fragments in Xishuangbanna. Acta Phytoecologica Sinica 22: 250–255 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  31. Malcolm J.R. 1994. Edge effects in central Amazonian forest fragments. Ecology 75: 2438–2445.Google Scholar
  32. Malcolm J.R. 1997. Biomass and diversity of small mammals in Amazonian forest fragments. In: Laurance W.F. and Bierregaard R.O. (eds) Tropical Forest Remnants: Ecology, Management, and Conservation of Fragmented Communities. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, pp. 207–221.Google Scholar
  33. Murcia C. 1995. Edge effects in fragmented forests: implications for conservation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 10: 58–62.Google Scholar
  34. Newmark W.D. 1991. Tropical forest fragmentation and the local extinction of understory birds in the Eastern Usambara Mountains, Tanzania. Conservation Biology 5: 67–78.Google Scholar
  35. Oliveira-Filho A.T., Mello J.M. and de Scolforo J.R.S. 1997. Effects of past disturbance and edges on tree community structure and dynamics within a fragment of tropical semideciduous forest in southeastern Brazil over a five year period. Plant Ecology 131: 45–66.Google Scholar
  36. Pielou E.C. 1966. The measurement of diversity in different types of biological collections. Theoretical Biology 13: 131–144.Google Scholar
  37. Raunkiaer C. 1934. The Life Forms of Plants and Statistical Plant Geography. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
  38. Shannon C.E. and Wiener W. 1949. The Mathematical Theory of Communication. University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Illinois.Google Scholar
  39. Turner I.M. 1996. Species loss in fragments of tropical rain forest: a review of the evidence. Journal of Applied Ecology 33: 200–209.Google Scholar
  40. Turner I.M., Chua K.S., Ong J.S.Y., Soong B.C. and Tan T.H. 1996. A century of plant species loss from an isolated fragment of lowland tropical rain forest. Conservation Biology 10: 1229–1244.Google Scholar
  41. Turner I.M. and Corlett R.T. 1996. The conservation value of small, isolated fragments of lowland tropical rain forest. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11: 330–333.Google Scholar
  42. Whitmore T.C. 1989. Canopy gaps and the two major groups of forest trees. Ecology 70: 536–538.Google Scholar
  43. Williams-Linera G. 1992. Vegetation structure and environmental conditions of forest edges in Panama. Journal of Ecology 78: 356–373.Google Scholar
  44. Williams-Linera G. 2002. Tree species richness complementarity, disturbance and fragmentation in a Mexican tropical montane cloud forest. Biodiversity and Conservation 11: 1825–1843.Google Scholar
  45. Xu Z.F., Zhu H., Liu H.M. and Wang H. 1994. The changing tendency of plant species diversity in the fragmental tropical rain forest in southern Yunnan, China. Journal of Plant Resources and Environment 3: 9–15 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  46. Zhu H., Xu Z.F., Wang H. and Li B.G. 1997. Changing of plant diversity of fragmentary tropical rain forests on Dai's Holy Hills in Xishuangbanna. Guihaia 17: 213–219 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  47. Zhu H., Wang H. and Li B.G. 1998. Research on the tropical seasonal rainforest of Xishuangbanna, south Yunnan. Guihaia 18: 371–384 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  48. Zhu H., Xu Z.F., Wang H. and Li B.G. 2000a. Floristic composition and changes of rain forest fragments in Xishuangbanna, southern Yunnan. Chinese Biodiversity 8: 139–145 (in Chinese).Google Scholar
  49. Zhu H., Xu Z.F., Wang H., Li B.G. and Long B.Y. 2000b. Effects of fragmentation on the structure, species composition and diversity of tropical rain forest in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan. Acta Phytoecologica Sinica 24: 560–568 (in Chinese).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical GardenThe Chinese Academy of SciencesYunnanP.R. China

Personalised recommendations