Biodiversity Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (3): 273-285.doi: 10.17520/biods.2018258

• Original Papers • Previous Article     Next Article

Correlation between spatial distribution of forest canopy gaps and plant diversity indices in Xishuangbanna tropical forests

Li Qiang1, Wang Bin1, Deng Yun2, Lin Luxiang2, Dawa Zhaxi1, Zhang Zhiming1, *()   

  1. 1 School of Ecology and Environmental Sciences & Yunnan Key Laboratory for Plateau Mountain Ecology and Restoration of Degraded Environments, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091;
    2 CAS Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303
  • Received:2018-09-25 Accepted:2019-01-16 Online:2019-01-31
  • Zhang Zhiming

Forest gaps are an important disturbance in forest communities and impact the composition of understory species. The research on the relationship between the spatial patterns of forest canopy gap and diversity indices of understory plants is of great significance to understand the impcat between forest canopy gap and the biodiversity of understory plants. This will help to further understand community dynamics and also protect species diversity. In this study, three tropical rainforests with a size of one hectare were randomly selected in the Xishuangbanna tropical rain forest. A light and small six-rotor UAs was mounted with a Sony ILCE-A7r visible light sensor to obtain high-definition digital images of each plot. Digital surface elevation models and the topographic data of each plot were used to determine the distribution type of canopy gaps in each plot and to extract landscape pattern indices. Based on ground-based survey data, a statistical survey of plant diversity under each forest canopy gap was carried out to analyze the relationship between the spatial distribution of forest gaps and plant diversity. Results show that the tropical rain forest gaps in Xishuangbanna are large and have a scattered spatial distribution. The spatial characteristics indices, such as the shape and complexity index, and the area were significantly positively correlated with the diversity of understory plants. The size of the forest canopy gap had a more significant impact on the plant diversity than the shape. After the area reaches a certain level, the shape and complexity index of the gap is relative to the area factor. The impact on diversity of understory plants is more severe, and all forest gaps tend to recover from the top communities in their respective plots.

Key words: canopy gap, landscape spatial pattern, plant diversity, landscape pattern metrics, near-surface remote sensing, UAV

Fig. 1

Map of the four sample locations in this study. Each color border in the figure is within 1 hectare of the sample land, and each color corresponds to the position of sampling points in the drawing."

Fig. 2

Distribution of the canopy gaps of four forest plots"

Table 1

Data of the canopy gaps of four forest plots"

44 km样地
44 km plot
Tea factory backhill plot
Menglun Reservoir plot
Dapingzhang plot
大林窗数 Large gap number 13 9 12 21
小林窗数 Small gap number 27 18 14 32
林窗数 Gap number 40 27 26 53
最大林窗面积 Largest gap area (m2) 294.26 121.78 266.42 160.53
最小林窗面积 Smallest gap area (m2) 4.1 4.64 4.17 4.2
林窗总面积 Total area of gap (m2) 1,208.72 600.00 1,286.91 1,640.25
林窗空隙率 Gap fraction 12.10% 6% 12.85% 16.40%

Table 2

Spatial characteristic index of the canopy gaps of four forests"

44 km样地
44 km plot
Tea factory backhill plot
Menglun Reservoir plot
Dapingzhang plot
Quantity ratio
小林窗 Small gap 67.50% 66.70% 53.80% 60.40%
大林窗 Large gap 32.50% 33.30% 46.20% 39.60%
Area ratio
小林窗 Small gap 24% 30.10% 14.10% 23.30%
大林窗 Large gap 76% 69.90% 85.90% 76.70%
Gap fraction
小林窗 Small gap 2.90% 1.80% 1.81% 3.80%
大林窗 Large gap 9.20% 4.20% 11.05% 12.60%
Mean Euclidean near-
neighbor distance (ENN)
林窗 Gap 10.80 10.02 11.11 8.49
小林窗 Small gap 11.45 9.74 16.28 9.57
大林窗 Large gap 17.16 17.89 18.82 14.18

Fig. 3

Shape index and area spatial distribution of the four forest canopy gaps. 44 km, 44 km plot; CC, Tea factory backhill plot; SK, Menglun Reservoir plot; DPZ, Dapingzhang plot."

Table 3

The numbers and area of the canopy gaps of the tropical forest plots and the evergreen broad-leaved forest plot"

分类面积 Classified by area (m2) 林窗数量 No. of gaps 数量百分比 % 面积 Area (m2) 面积百分比 %
热带雨林 Tropical forest
4-25 59 63.44 648.99 20.96
25-50 19 20.43 588.53 19.01
50-100 8 8.60 541.68 17.50
100-200 4 4.30 523.73 16.92
200-400 3 3.23 792.7 25.61
合计 Total 93 100 3,095.63 100
常绿阔叶林 Evergreen broad-leaved forest
4-25 32 60.38 382.3 23.31
25-50 10 18.87 375.9 22.92
50-100 9 16.98 599.19 36.53
100-200 2 3.77 282.81 17.24
200-400 0 0 0 0
合计 Total 53 100.00 1,640.2 100.00


Number of plant individuals and species under the canopy gaps and under the forests in the four plots. Plot codes are the same as Fig.3."

Table 4

Plant diversity indices under the canopy gaps of four forest plots. 44 km, 44 km plot; CC, Tea factory backhill plot; SK, Menglun Reservoir plot; DPZ, Dapingzhang plot."

物种丰富度 Species richness Shannon-Wiener指数 Shannon-Wiener index Simpson指数 Simpson index
最大值 Max. 均值 Mean 最大值 Max. 均值 Mean 最大值 Max. 均值 Mean
44 km 145 10.35 3.3698 1.2404 0.959 0.5742
茶厂后山样地 CC 67 10.8519 3.0483 1.7553 0.9417 0.7731
大平掌样地 DPZ 34 3.1132 2.8178 0.5582 0.9291 0.2868
勐仑水库样地 SK 164 28.2692 3.0656 1.8432 0.9452 0.7233

Fig. 5

Linear relationship between species richness and canopy gap area. Plot codes are the same as Fig.3."

Fig. 6

A linear relationship between Shannon-Wiener index and forest canopy gap area in tropical rain forests"

Fig. 7

Linear relationship between species richness and shape index (MSI) of the rainforest canopy gaps. Plot codes are the same as Fig.3."

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