Biodiversity Science ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (11): 1192-1201.doi: 10.17520/biods.2017149

• Original Papers: Plant Diversity • Previous Article     Next Article

Biogeographic patterns and environmental interpretation of plant species richness in desert regions of Northwest China

Jianming Wang1, Wenjuan Wang1, Jingwen Li1, *(), Yiming Feng2, Bo Wu2, Qi Lu2   

  1. 1 College of Forestry, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083
    2 Institute of Desertification Studies, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091
  • Received:2017-05-18 Accepted:2017-11-20 Online:2017-11-20
  • Li Jingwen

Desertification poses an important ecological problem in Northwest China as desert ecosystems are highly vulnerable to climatic and land-use changes. Due to the harsh environment and poor accessibility, systematic studies of plant diversity in the desert region of Northwest China remain elusive. Here, we explored the geographic patterns of species richness and determinants in the desert regions of Northwest China based on species richness and spatial and climatic factors of 195 field plots. Results showed that a total of 363 species were recorded, belonging to 38 families and 153 genera. Species richness exhibited significant longitudinal and latitudinal gradients, which were quadratically correlated with longitude and latitude. Species richness was strongly influenced by spatial, water, and energy factors. These factors explained 65.36% of the variation in species richness, while 48.08% was simultaneously explained by the three groups of factors. Furthermore, the water and energy factors together explained more variation than that of spatial factors. These results indicate that the patterns of species richness were determined by niche, neutral, and other unknown processes together, and suggest that environmental factors play an important role. We highlight that unmeasured factors including soil, topography, and human disturbances may greatly affect plant species richness in the desert regions of Northwest China.

Key words: desert, species richness, spatial variables, water, energy, niche, neutral processes

Fig. 1

Distribution of survey plots in desert of Northwest China"

Table 1

Descriptive statistics for plant species richness in desert of Northwest China and environmental variables used in the study"

最大值 Max 平均值 Mean 最小值 Min 标准误差 SD
物种丰富度 Species richness 19 7.69 1 3.56
地理因素 Geographic variables
海拔 Altitude (m) 2,870 1,268 216 442.76
经度 Longitude (E) 111.45° 97.90° 82.00° 7.92
纬度 Latitude (N) 47.56° 41.80° 36.70° 2.50
气候因素 Climatic factors
年均降水量 Mean annual precipitation (MAP, mm) 261 107.66 15 65.27
年均温度 Mean annual temperature (MAT, °C) 12.10 6.80 2.10 2.10
潜在蒸散量 Potential evapotranspiration (PET, mm) 1,349 1,034.10 831 118.42
实际蒸散量 Actual evapotranspiration (AET, mm) 238 103.08 16 57.69
湿润指数 Moisture index (MI) -69.29 -88.93 -98.89 7.37
最热月均温 Mean temperature of the warmest month (MTWM, °C) 27.80 22.92 14.70 2.27
最冷月均温 Mean temperature of the coldest month (MTCM, °C) -6.8 -11.71 -18.7 2.57
气温日较差 Mean diurnal range (MDR, °C) 16.50 13.94 11.00 1.39
气温年较差 Temperature annual range (ART, °C) 53.60 48.10 41.50 2.39

Table 2

Relationship between geographical factors and water, energy factors in desert of Northwest China"

水分因子 Water factors
年均降水量 Mean annual precipitation (MAP, mm) 0.392 (US)*** 0.167 (US)** 0.022 (HS)*
实际蒸散量 Actual evapotranspiration (AET, mm) 0.383 (US)*** 0.260 (US)*** 0.038 (HS)*
湿润指数 Moisture index (MI) 0.387 (US)*** 0.304 (US)*** 0.037 (HS)*
能量因子 Energy factors
年均温度 Mean annual temperature (MAT, °C) 0.098 (HS)*** 0.269 (-)*** 0.073 (-)***
气温日较差 Mean diurnal range (MDR, °C) 0.337 (HS)** 0.338 (-)*** 0.067 (+)**
气温年较差 Temperature annual range (ART, °C) 0.198 (+)*** 0.406 (-)***
潜在蒸散量 Potential evapotranspiration (PET, mm) 0.157 (HS)*** 0.363 (-)***
最冷月均温 Mean temperature of the coldest month (MTCM, °C) 0.226 (HS)*** 0.672 (-)*** 0.044 (HS)**
最热月均温 Mean temperature of the warmest month (MTWM, °C) 0.081 (HS)** 0.092 (HS)*** 0.323(-)***

Fig. 2

Trends of species richness in desert of Northwest China along longitude (a) and latitude (b)"

Fig. 3

Relationship between species richness in desert of Northwest China and climatic factors"

Fig. 4

The explanation of energy and water factors to species richness patterns in desert of Northwest China. a is the independent component attributed to water factors; b is the co-varying component of energy factors and water factors; c is the independent component attributed to energy factors; d is unexplained."

Fig. 5

The explanation of water, energy and spatial factors to species richness patterns in desert of Northwest China. *** P < 0.001; ** P < 0.01; * P < 0.05."

[1] Borcard D, Gillet F, Legendre P (2011) Numerical Ecology with R. Springer Science & Business Media, New York.
[2] Chambers JM (2008) Software for Data Analysis: Programming with R. Springer, New York.
[3] Chen CD, Zhang LY (1987) Extremely arid deserts in China. Journal of Arid Land Resources and Environment, z1, 1-12. (in Chinese with English abstract)
[陈昌笃, 张立运 (1987) 中国的极旱荒漠. 干旱区资源与环境, z1, 1-12.]
[4] Colwell RK, Rahbek C, Gotelli NJ (2004) The mid-domain effect and species richness patterns: what have we learned so far? The American Naturalist, 163, E1-E23.
[5] Couwenberghe RV, Collet C, Lacombe E, Pierrat JC, Gégout J (2010) Gap partitioning among temperate tree species across a regional soil gradient in windstorm-disturbed forests. Forest Ecology and Management, 260, 146-154.
[6] Currie DJ, Francis AP (2004) Regional versus climatic effect on taxon richness in angiosperms: reply to Qian and Ricklefs. The American Naturalist, 163, 780-785.
[7] Currie DJ, Paquin V (1987) Large-scale biogeographical patterns of species richness of trees. Nature, 329, 326-327.
[8] Dai S, Wang XP, Liu C, Wu X, Li QY, Wang M (2013) Relationship between shrub species richness and climate across central Inner Mongolia, China. Acta Scientiarum Naturalium Universitatis Pekinensis, 49, 689-698. (in Chinese with English abstract)
[代爽, 王襄平, 刘超, 武娴, 李巧燕, 王敏 (2013) 内蒙古灌木群落物种丰富度与气候的关系. 北京大学学报(自然科学版), 49, 689-698.]
[9] Dang RL, Pan XL, Gu XF (2002) Floristic analysis of spermatophyte genera in the arid deserts area in North-West China. Guihaia, 22, 121-128. (in Chinese with English abstract)
[党荣理, 潘晓玲, 顾雪峰 (2002) 西北干旱荒漠区植物属的区系分析. 广西植物, 22, 121-128.]
[10] Dray S, Legendre P, Peres-Neto PR (2006) Spatial modelling: a comprehensive framework for principal coordinate analysis of neighbour matrices (PCNM). Ecological Modelling, 196, 483-493.
[11] Fang JY, Wang XP, Shen ZH, Tang ZY, He JS, Yu D (2009) Methods and protocols for plant community inventory. Biodiversity Science, 17, 533-548. (in Chinese with English abstract)
[方精云, 王襄平, 沈泽昊, 唐志尧, 贺金生, 于丹 (2009) 植物群落清查的主要内容、方法和技术规范. 生物多样性, 17, 533-548.]
[12] Francis AP, Currie DJ (2003) A globally consistent richness-climate relationship for angiosperms. The American Naturalist, 161, 523-536.
[13] Gaston KJ (2000) Global patterns in biodiversity. Nature, 405, 220-227.
[14] Gilbert B, Lechowicz MJ (2004) Neutrality, niches, and dispersal in a temperate forest understory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , USA, 101, 7651-7656.
[15] Guo RX, Guan XD, Zhang YT (2015) Main Advances in Desertification Research in China. Journal of Arid Meteorology, 33, 505-514. (in Chinese with English abstract)
[郭瑞霞, 管晓丹, 张艳婷 (2015) 我国荒漠化主要研究进展. 干旱气象, 33, 505-514.]
[16] Gravel D, Canham CD, Beaudet M, Messier C (2006) Reconciling niche and neutrality: the continuum hypothesis. Ecology Letters, 9, 399-409.
[17] Hawkins BA, Porter EE (2004) Water-energy balance and the geographic pattern of species richness of western palearctic butterflies. Ecological Entomology, 28, 678-686.
[18] Hawkins BA, Field R, Cornell HV, Currie DJ, Guégan JF, Kaufman DM, Kerr JT, Mittelbach GG, Oberdorff T, O’Brien EM, Porter EE, Turner JR (2003) Energy, water, and broad-scale geographic patterns of species richness. Ecology, 84, 3105-3117.
[19] Hubbell SP (2001) The Unified Neutral Theory of Biodiversity and Biogeography. Princeton University Press, Princeton.
[20] Kreft H, Jetz W (2007) Global patterns and determinants of vascular plant diversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 104, 5925-5930.
[21] La D, Zhang YJ, Liu J, Cui LL, Pang YZ (2016) Spatial distribution patterns and environmental interpretation of plant species richness in the Lhasa valley, Tibet. Acta Prataculturae Sinica, 25, 202-211. (in Chinese with English abstract)
[拉多, 张燕杰, 刘杰, 崔玲玲, 庞有志 (2016) 拉萨河谷植物物种丰富度空间分布格局及其环境解释. 草业学报, 25, 202-211.]
[22] Legendre P (1993) Spatial autocorrelation: trouble or new paradigm? Ecology, 74, 1659-1673.
[23] Legendre P, Legendre L (2012) Numerical Ecology, 3rd edn. Elsevier Science , Amsterdam.
[24] Li LP, Abdusalih N, Wang SP, Wang ZH, Tang ZY (2011) Distribution patterns and climatic explanations of species richness of vascular plants in Xinjiang, China. Arid Zone Research, 28, 25-30. (in Chinese with English abstract)
[李利平, 努尔巴依·阿布都沙力克, 王少鹏, 王志恒, 唐志尧 (2011) 新疆野生维管束植物物种丰富度分布格局的水热解释. 干旱区研究, 28, 25-30.]
[25] Li LP, Liu YN, Wang XP, Fang JY, Wang QC, Zhang BG, Xiao PG, Mohammat A, Terwei A (2015) Different effects of regional species pool on plant diversity between forest and grassland biomes in arid Northwest China. PLoS ONE, 10, e0131982.
[26] Li LP, Wang ZH, Stefan Z, Zerbe S, Abdusalih N, Tang ZY, Ma M, Yin LK, Mohammat A, Han WX, Fang JY (2013) Species richness patterns and water-energy dynamics in the drylands of Northwest China. PLoS ONE, 8, e66450.
[27] Li XR, Tan HJ, He MZ, Wang XP, Li XJ (2009) The response of shrub species richness and abundance patterns to environmental change in Alxa Plateau: the premise of shrubs diversity conservation in extremely arid Gobi regions. Science China: Earth Sciences, 39, 504-515. (in Chinese with English abstract)
[李新荣, 谭会娟, 何明珠, 王新平, 李小军 (2009) 阿拉善高原灌木种的丰富度和多度格局对环境因子变化的响应: 极端干旱戈壁地区灌木多样性保育的前提. 中国科学: 地球科学, 39, 504-515.]
[28] Li Y, Qu JJ, Dong ZB, An LZ (2008) Biodiversity in desert region of China. Research of Soil & Water Conservation, 15(4), 79-81. (in Chinese with English abstract)
[李毅, 屈建军, 董治宝, 安黎哲 (2008) 中国荒漠区的生物多样性. 水土保持研究, 15(4), 79-81.]
[29] Liu QF, Liu Y, Sun XL, Zhang XF, Kang S, Ding Y (2015) The explanation of climatic hypotheses to community species diversity patterns in Inner Mongolia grasslands. Biodiversity Science, 23, 463-470. (in Chinese with English abstract)
[刘庆福, 刘洋, 孙小丽, 张雪峰, 康萨如拉, 丁勇 (2015) 气候假说对内蒙古草原群落物种多样性格局的解释. 生物多样性, 23, 463-470.]
[30] O’Brien EM (1993) Climatic gradients in woody plant species richness: towards an explanation based on an analysis of southern Africa’s woody flora. Journal of Biogeography, 20, 181-198.
[31] O’Brien EM (1998) Water-energy dynamics, climate, and prediction of woody plant species richness: an interim general model. Journal of Biogeography, 25, 379-398.
[32] O’Brien EM, Field R, Whittaker RJ (2000) Climatic gradients in woody plant (tree and shrub) diversity: water-energy dynamics, residual variation, and topography. Oikos, 89, 588-600.
[33] Oksanen J, Blanchet FG, Kindt R, Legendre P, Minchin PR, O’Hara RB, Simpson GL, Solymos P, Henry M, Stevens H, Wagner H (2013) Vegan: Community Ecology Package. R package version 2.4-5. (accessed on 2017-03-15)
[34] Qian H, Kissling WD (2010) Spatial scale and cross-taxon congruence of terrestrial vertebrate and vascular plant species richness in China. Ecology, 91, 1172-1183.
[35] Shen GC, Yu MJ, Hu XS, Mi XC, Ren HB, Sun IF, Ma KP (2009) Species-area relationships explained by the joint effects of dispersal limitation and habitat heterogeneity. Ecology, 90, 3033-3041.
[36] Siefert A, Ravenscroft C, Althoff D, Alvarez-Yépiz JC, Carter BE, Glennon KL, Heberling JM, Jo IS, Pontes A, Sauer A, Willis A, Fridley JD (2012) Scale dependence of vegetation-environment relationships: a meta-analysis of multivariate data. Journal of Vegetation Science, 23, 942-951.
[37] Smith TW, Lundholm JT (2010) Variation partitioning as a tool to distinguish between niche and neutral processes. Ecography, 33, 648-655.
[38] Svenning JC, Skov F (2010) The relative roles of environment and history as controls of tree species composition and richness in Europe. Journal of Biogeography, 32, 1019-1033.
[39] Thornthwaite CW (1948) An approach toward a rational classification of climate. Geographical Review, 38, 55-94.
[40] Wang JM, Dong FY, Nasina BH, Li JW, Li JQ, Feng YM, Lu Q (2016a) Plant distribution patterns and the factors influencing plant diversity in the Black Gobi Desert of China. Acta Ecologica Sinica, 36, 3488-3498. (in Chinese with English abstract)
[王健铭, 董芳宇, 巴海·那斯拉, 李景文, 李俊清, 冯益明, 卢琦 (2016a) 中国黑戈壁植物多样性分布格局及其影响因素. 生态学报, 36, 3488-3498.]
[41] Wang JM, Zhong YM, Zhang TH, Li JW, Feng YM, Lu Q (2016b) Plant species richness patterns and water-energy dynamics in the Black Gobi Desert, China. Plant Science Journal, 34, 530-538. (in Chinese with English abstract)
[王健铭, 钟悦鸣, 张天汉, 李景文, 冯益明, 卢琦 (2016b) 中国黑戈壁地区植物物种丰富度格局的水热解释. 植物科学学报, 34, 530-538.]
[42] Wang XP, Fang JY, Sanders NJ, White PS, Tang ZY (2009) Relative importance of climate vs local factors in shaping the regional patterns of forest plant richness across northeast China. Ecography, 32, 133-142.
[43] Wang ZH, Fang JY, Tang ZY, Lin X (2012) Relative role of contemporary environment versus history in shaping diversity patterns of China’s woody plants. Ecography, 35, 1124-1133.
[44] Wiens JJ, Donoghue MJ (2004) Historical biogeography, ecology and species richness. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 19, 639-644.
[45] Wright DH (1983) Species-energy theory: an extension of species-area theory. Oikos, 41, 496-506.
[46] Wright SJ (2002) Plant diversity in tropical forests: a review of mechanisms of species coexistence. Oecologia, 130, 1-14.
[47] Wu Z (2009) Sandy Deserts and Its Control in China
[吴正 (2009) 中国沙漠及其治理. 科学出版社, 北京.]
[48] Wu ZY (1980) Vegetation of China. Science Press, Beijing. (in Chinese)
[吴征镒 (1980) 中国植被. 科学出版社, 北京.]
[49] Xia YG, Ning Y, Li JW, Li JQ, Feng YM, Wu B, Lu Q (2013) Plant species diversity and floral characters in the Black Gobi desert of China.Acta Botanica Boreali-Occidentalia Sinica, 33, 1906-1915. (in Chinese with English abstract)
[夏延国, 宁宇, 李景文, 李俊清, 冯益民, 吴波, 卢琦 (2013) 中国黑戈壁地区植物区系及其物种多样性研究. 西北植物学报, 33, 1906-1915.]
[50] Zhang PP, Shao MA, Zhang XC (2017) Spatial pattern of plant species diversity and the influencing factors in a Gobi Desert within the Heihe River Basin, Northwest China. Journal of Arid Land, 9, 379-393.
[51] Zhu JT, Yu JJ, Wang P, Yu Q, Eamus D (2013) Distribution patterns of groundwater-dependent vegetation species diversity and their relationship to groundwater attributes in northwestern China. Ecohydrology, 6, 191-200.
[1] Xian-hui TANG Yong-Le CHEN Fang LI. (2020) Water isotope analysis for tracing ecosystem processes: measurement techniques, ecological applications, and future challenges . Chin J Plant Ecol, 44(生态技术与方法专辑): 0-0.
[2] . (2020) Eddy covariance technique and its applications in flux observations of terrestrial ecosystems . Chin J Plant Ecol, 44(生态技术与方法专辑): 0-0.
[3] Zhao-Zhong FENG Li Pin You GuoZhang Zheng-zhen Li Qin Ping Long JinPeng Shuo Liu. (2020) Impacts of elevated carbon dioxide concentration on terrestrial ecosystems: Problems and prospective . Chin J Plant Ecol, 44(全球变化与生态系统专辑): 0-0.
[4] Peng XING Biao Li Yixuan Han Qiujin Gu Hongxiu Wan. (2020) Freshwater ecosystems and their response to the global changes-Progress and prospect . Chin J Plant Ecol, 44(全球变化与生态系统专辑): 0-0.
[5] Na Li Chenchen Ding Dandan Cao Hongjun Chu Yingjie Qi Chunwang Li Xiaoge Ping Yuehua Sun Zhigang Jiang. (2020) Avian species census, richness patterns and faunal composition in the Altay Region, China . Biodiv Sci, 28(4): 401-411.
[6] Gongguo Li,Ping Li,Hangying Xu,Haiyan Yu,Jian Yu. (2020) Path analysis of zooplankton diversity and environmental factors in the water sources rivers, Zhejiang Province . Biodiv Sci, 28(2): 166-175.
[7] HU Wan,ZHANG Zhi-Yong,CHEN Lu-Dan,PENG Yan-Song,WANG Xu. (2020) Changes in potential geographical distribution of Tsoongiodendron odorum since the Last Glacial Maximum . Chin J Plant Ecol, 44(1): 44-55.
[8] WEN Chao,SHAN Yu-Mei,YE Ru-Han,ZHANG Pu-Jin,MU Lan,CHANG Hong,REN Ting-Ting,CHEN Shi-Ping,BAI Yong-Fei,HUANG Jian-Hui,SUN Hai-Lian. (2020) Effects of nitrogen and water addition on soil respiration in a Nei Mongol desert steppe with different intensities of grazing history . Chin J Plant Ecol, 44(1): 80-92.
[9] Tang Jiali, Qiu Jie, Huang Xuehui. (2020) The Development of Genomics Technologies Drives New Progress in Horticultural Plant Research . Chin Bull Bot, 55(1): 1-4.
[10] JING Hong-Xia,SUN Ning-Xiao,Muhammad UMAIR,LIU Chun-Jiang,DU Hong-Mei. (2020) Stoichiometric characteristics of soils and dominant shrub leaves and their responses to water addition in different seasons in degraded karst areas in Southern Yunnan of China . Chin J Plant Ecol, 44(1): 56-69.
[11] SHI Jing-Jing,ZHAO Ming-Fei,WANG Yu-Hang,XUE Feng,KANG Mu-Yi,JIANG Yuan. (2019) Community assembly of herbaceous layer of the planted forests in the central Loess Plateau, China . Chin J Plant Ecol, 43(9): 834-842.
[12] LI Zi-Jing, SHA Na, SHI Ya-Bo, TONG Xu-Ze, DONG Lei, ZHANG Xiao-Qing, SUN Qiang, LIANG Cun-Zhu. (2019) Classification and characteristics of Helianthemum songaricum communities in western Erdos region, Nei Mongol, China . Chin J Plant Ecol, 43(9): 806-816.
[13] Hai-Sheng Yuan, Yulian Wei, Liwei Zhou, Wenmin Qin, Baokai Cui, Shuanghui He. (2019) Potential distribution and ecological niches of four butt-rot pathogenic fungi in Northeast China . Biodiv Sci, 27(8): 873-879.
[14] LI Na, ZHANG Yi-He, HAN Xiao-Zeng, YOU Meng-Yang, HAO Xiang-Xiang. (2019) Effects of long-term vegetation cover changes on the organic carbon fractions in soil aggregates of mollisols . Chin J Plant Ecol, 43(7): 624-634.
[15] Aizezitiyuemaier MAIMAITI, Yusufujiang RUSULI, HE Hui, Baihetinisha ABUDUKERIMU. (2019) Spatio-temporal characteristics of vegetation water use efficiency and its relationship with climate factors in Tianshan Mountains in Xinjiang from 2000 to 2017 . Chin J Plant Ecol, 43(6): 490-500.
Full text