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 E-mail:lijingwen@bjfu.edu.cn

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"

经度
Longitude
纬度
Latitude
海拔
Altitude
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."

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