Biodiversity Science ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (2): 191-201.doi: 10.17520/biods.2017324

• Orginal Article • Previous Article     Next Article

The elevational patterns of mammalian richness in the Himalayas

Yiming Hu1, 2, 3, Jianchao Liang3, 4, Kun Jin5, Zhifeng Ding3, Zhixin Zhou3, Huijian Hu3, *, Zhigang Jiang1, 2, *   

  1. 1 Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101
    2 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    3 Guangdong Key Laboratory of Animal Conservation and Resource Utilization, Guangdong Public Laboratory of Wild Animal Conservation and Utilization, Guangdong Institute of Applied Biological Resources, Guangzhou 510260
    4 School of Nature Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083
    5 Research Institute of Forest Ecology, Environment and Protection, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Beijing 100091
  • Received:2017-12-06 Accepted:2018-01-26 Online:2018-05-05
  • Hu Huijian,Jiang Zhigang
  • About author:

    # Co-first authors

Studies of the distribution of biodiversity are hotspots in ecology and biogeography. Mountain ecosystems, which contain high habitat heterogeneity and biodiversity, play an important role in biodiversity conservation. The Himalayas are located in the southern rim of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. The complicated geological topography, vast elevational gradients (100-8,844 m), significant vertical climatic zonation, and diverse biodiversity make it an ideal study area for biodiversity distribution research. By combining field data and data from museum records and literature, 313 mammal species were found for each 100 m elevational band along the gradient from 100 to 6,000 m above sea level (a.s.l.) in the Himalayas. Most of the elevational species richness patterns were hump-shaped. Species richness of the overall mammals peaked at an elevation of 900-1,400 m. Species composition along the elevational gradient in the Himalayas can be classified into five groups (100-1,500 m, 1,500-2,000 m, 2,000-3,000 m, 3,000-4,200 m and 4,200-6,000 m a.s.l.) using UPGMA clustering of elevation-based species assemblages, which was similar to the divisions of the vertical vegetation zone. The distribution of mammals is uneven, with low diversity found in the northern slope of the Himalayas and high diversity in the southern slope; the valleys on south slope of the Himalayas that contain higher biodiversity are biological corridors connecting the northern and southern fauna. To maintain the exchange of biodiversity, we should sustainably strengthen protection to the valley ecosystems.

Key words: Himalayas, mammal species diversity, elevational patterns, distribution

Fig. 1

Generalized topographic map of the Himalaya Mountains and Tibetan Plateau. The black dashed lines with shadow represent boundaries of the study area. Black dashed lines represent boundaries between the western, central, and eastern Himalaya Mountains. Black dots represent field survey areas, from left to right are: Gyirong County, Nyalam County, Tingri County, Dinggyê County, Yadong County, Lhozhag County, Cona County and Lhünzê County, respectively. NP, Nanga Parbat; NB, Namche Barwa."

Fig. 2

Elevational patterns of mammal species richness for different distribution range subsets in the Himalaya Mountains. a, All mammals; b, Endemic mammals; c, Non-endemic mammals; d-g, Mammals in the first, second, third and fourth range size classes, respectively."

Fig. 3

Elevational patterns of mammal species richness for different biological habits and body size subsets in the Himalaya Mountains. a, All mammals; b, Chiroptera; c, Non-volant mammals; d, Non-volant small mammals; e, Non-volant large and medium mammals."

Table 1

Polynomial regressions for the mammal species richness along the elevational gradients in the Himalaya Mountains for each species subsets"

Species groups
Number of species
一阶 Order 1 二阶 Order 2
R2 ∆AICc R2 ∆AICc
总体 All mammals 312 0.8772 12,550 0.9215 0
特有种 Endemic mammals 72 0.2935 5,236 0.7948 0
非特有种 Non-endemic mammals 240 0.9030 1,573 0.9102 0
分布幅一组 First range 90 0.7380 1,594.7 0.8478 0
分布幅二组 Second range 153 0.8287 3,201.6 0.8726 0
分布幅三组 Third range 58 0.6379 5,977 0.8482 0
分布幅四组 Fourth range 11 0.3018 356.537 0.9289 0
飞行哺乳动物 Chiroptera 80 0.8075 1,995.6 0.8675 0
非飞行哺乳动物 Non-volant mammals 232 0.7592 24,569 0.9254 0
非飞行小型哺乳动物 Non-volant small mammals 127 0.6295 9,999.2 0.8751 0
Non-volant large and medium mammals
105 0.8619 3,453.9 0.9557 0

Fig. 4

Dendrograms resulting from UPGMA hierarchical clustering of 100 m elevational band assemblages based on βsim dissimilarity matrices for mammal species richness along the elevational gradient in the Himalayas. The agglomerative coefficient is 0.993. The numerals of x-axis represent the 59 100 m elevational bands. For example, “1” means 100-200 m a.s.l. The values of y-axis are dissimilarity (βsim). Cluster leaves of different colors represent different cluster assignments."

Fig. 5

Terrain (a) and the species richness pattern of mammals (b) in the Himalaya Mountains"

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