Biodiversity Science ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (4): 475-488.doi: 10.17520/biods.2016022

Special Issue: Plant Diversity in the Dry Valleys of Southwest China

• Reviews • Previous Article     Next Article

Protection and utilization of plant biodiversity resources in dry valleys of Southwest China

Zehao Shen1, *(), Zhiming Zhang2, Jinming Hu3, Jie Han2, Jida Yang2, Lingxiao Ying1   

  1. 1 Department of Ecology, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Key Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes of the Ministry of Education, Peking University, Beijing 100871.
    2 College of Ecology and Environment, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091.
    3 College of International River and Ecological Security, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091
  • Received:2016-01-21 Accepted:2016-04-13 Online:2016-05-11
  • Shen Zehao

The dry valleys of Southwest China specifically refer to a type of azonal landscape distributed in the large river basins of the Hengduan Mountain ranges, and are the outcome of the effects of the monsoon climate, ridge-valley geomorphology, and long-term human perturbations. The dry valley landscape is characterized by prominent seasonal aridity, a vertical climate gradient, rich flora of high endemism, and unique vegetation types well adapted to the distinct environment. The environmental change in the last decades is characterized by consistent climate warming and widespread anthropogenic disturbances, especially land use/land cover changes mainly driven by road building, hydro-power construction, mining, and urbanization. These human disturbances intensified vegetation fragmentation, soil erosion, habitat degradation and biological invasion. Environmental degradation has threatened biodiversity resources and ecosystem security while the conservation measures for this unique ecosystem are lacking. We appeal for attention and timely action of biodiversity conservation in the dry valleys of Southwest China by means of establishing natural reserves. Meanwhile, contingent planning for vertical agriculture, degraded vegetation restoration, utilization program for the unique species resource and ecotourism are critical maintaining the sustainability of the dry valley ecosystems. Moreover, the policy and strategy under the goal of ecological civilization construction are also important tools to be applied in promoting ecosystem services and ecological security in the dry valleys of Southwest China.

Key words: dry valleys, plant diversity, climate change, land use, environmental stress, ecosystem conservation, resource utilization, policy

Fig. 1

The spatial pattern of climate features in Southwest China. (a) Annual biotic temperature (ABT, °C); (b) Mean annual precipitation (AP, mm). Following Liu et al (2016)."

Fig. 2

The latitudinal pattern of the ratio of tropical over temperate floristic components at the generic level, compared between the sites of the dry-hot valleys of Southwest China (data from Liu et al, 2016) and other regions in the subtropical China (data from Shen & Zhang, 2000)"

Fig. 3

The trend of decadal dynamics of annual precipitation (AP) records in three meteorological stations of different dry valley types. Luhuo, Dry-temperate type; Maoxian, Dry-warm type; Yuanjiang, Dry-hot type. (Data source: the Chinese Meteorological Information Center)"

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