Biodiversity Science ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (4): 382-392.doi: 10.17520/biods.2017027

• Original Papers: Plant Diversity • Previous Article     Next Article

Gap distribution patterns in the south subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest of Dinghushan

Dandan Sui1, 2, 3, Yue Wang1, 2, 3, Juyu Lian1, 2, *(), Jian Zhang4, Jianbo Hu5, Xuejun Ouyang1, 2, Zongji Fan1, 2, Honglin Cao1, 2, Wanhui Ye1, 2   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Vegetation Restoration and Management of Degraded Ecosystems, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650
    2 Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Applied Botany, South China Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Guangzhou 510650
    3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    4 School of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241
    5 Tianjin Research Institute of Water Transport Engineering, Ministry of Transport, Tianjin 300456
  • Received:2017-02-01 Accepted:2017-03-30 Online:2017-04-20
  • Lian Juyu
  • About author:# Co-first authors

Studying the dynamic characteristics, species coexistence and biodiversity conservation mechanisms of subtropical forest ecosystems is important in the study of the quantitative characteristics and spatial gap distribution patterns. Based on census data from the 20 ha dynamics plot of the subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest in Dinghushan in 2015, we analyzed the geometric characteristics and spatial distribution pattern of gaps in the plot by combining aerial image processing technology of unmanned aerial vehicles and GIS. Results show that the gap fraction is 13.72%, the gap density is 35.75 no./ha, and the average gap area is 38.37 m2. Results also show that: (1) The number of gaps in the area is negatively exponentially distributed with the increase of gap area, that is, the gap is small and the marginal effect is not significant. (2) The average area of ??forest gaps in over-mature forest stands is larger than that in mature forests, while the mature forest is more likely to have more small gaps and fewer large gaps. (3) In different habitats, the distribution of gaps in each habitat shows the same pattern as that found in the whole plot. However, the difference in the valley is significant when compared with other habitats, and gap area and gap density in the valley are larger than other habitats. The ridge gap is also distinctive, and its gap density is lower than other habitats. (4) Gap area is significantly correlated with topographic factors. It was significantly negatively correlated with altitude and convexity, and had a significantly positive correlation with aspect and gradient. Based on these comparative analyses, a monitoring system of forest canopy changes and patterns can be established using drones, to dynamically monitor forest gaps and the undergrowth community.

Key words: evergreen broad-leaved forest, gap density, gap area, gap fraction, drone

Fig. 1

Spatial distribution characteristics of gaps in the 20 ha dynamics plot of subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest in Dinghushan"

Fig. 2

Gap distribution at different maturity levels (A) and in different habitats (B). (A) Pink = Mature forest; Blue = Over-mature forest. (B) Purple = High valley; Blue = High slope; Pink = Ridge; Green = Low valley; Yellow = Low slope."

Table 1

Gap classification and data characteristics in 20 ha plot of subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forest of Dinghushan"

Gap area (m2)
Gap number
Quantity ratio
Area ratio
Gap type
2-25 442 61.82% 19.08% 小林窗 Small gap
25-49 151 21.12% 19.37% 大林窗 Large gap
50-99 76 10.63% 19.24% 大林窗 Large gap
100-199 30 4.20% 14.51% 大林窗 Large gap
200-399 11 1.54% 11.01% 大林窗 Large gap
> 400 5 0.69% 16.79% 大林窗 Large gap
合计 Total 715 100% 100% -

Table 2

Gap fraction and gap density under different maturity stands"

类型 Type 数量比例 Quantity ratio 面积比例 Area ratio 空隙率 Gap fraction 密度 Gap density (no./ha)
Small gap
Large gap
Small gap
Large gap
Small gap
Large gap
Small gap
Large gap
Over-mature forest
55.42% 44.58% 13.20% 86.80% 2.03% 13.31% 16.22 13.05
成熟林 Mature forest 65.70% 34.30% 24.20% 75.80% 3.09% 9.68% 26.95 14.06

Table 3

Number of gaps and gap fraction under different habitat types"

生境类型 Habitat type 样地面积 Plot area (ha) 林窗数量 Gap number 林窗空隙率 Gap fraction 林窗平均面积
Average gap area (m2)
大样地 Whole plot 20 715 13.72% 38.37
高谷 High valley 3.08 151 10.45% 47.89
高坡 High slope 2.92 122 16.46% 41.56
山脊 Ridge 2.52 126 5.11% 26.75
低谷 Low valley 6.92 266 51.26% 56.27
低坡 Low slope 6.60 226 32.86% 36.64

Table 4

Gap fraction and gap density under different habitats"

Habitat type
Quantity ratio (%)
Area ratio (%)
Gap fraction (%)
Gap density (no./ha)
Small gap
Large gap
Small gap
Large gap
Small gap
Large gap
Small gap
Large gap
大样地 Whole plot 61.81 38.19 19.08 80.92 2.62 11.10 22.10 13.65
高谷 High valley 58.28 41.72 14.02 85.98 1.47 8.98 12.72 9.10
高坡 High slope 59.02 40.98 17.57 82.43 2.89 13.57 23.38 16.23
山脊 Ridge 69.05 30.95 29.71 70.29 1.52 3.59 13.18 5.91
低谷 Low valley 49.62 50.38 11.59 88.41 5.94 45.32 45.21 45.89
低坡 Low slope 61.06 38.94 19.59 80.41 6.43 26.43 54.76 34.92

Fig. 3

Difference of gap area in different habitats. Different letters indicates significant difference."

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