Biodiv Sci ›› 2011, Vol. 19 ›› Issue (1): 34-40.DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1003.2011.07098

• Special Issue • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Community structure and vascular plant species composition of primary spruce forest near timberline in the eastern Tibetan Plateau

Xin Liu1,2, Weikai Bao1*   

  1. 1Key Laboratary of Ecological Restoration, Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041

    2Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
  • Received:2010-04-22 Revised:2010-07-07 Online:2011-01-20 Published:2011-04-01
  • Contact: Weikai Bao

Abstract: Spruce forest is a typical alpine forest type near timberline in the eastern Tibetan Plateau. How-ever, little is known about this ecosystem. In the present study we investigated community structure and vas-cular plant composition of such forests in northern Zamtang County, Sichuan Province, China. We sampled six plots (40 m×50 m) in primary forests in a range of 3,700–3,800 m elevation. For all trees ≥ 3 m in height in each plot, height and diameter at 50 cm height were measured. A total of 180 subplots (1 m×1 m), 30 for each plot, were sampled to estimate the coverage of shrubs, herbs and bryophytes, and species compo-sition of shrubs and herbs. Four sub-layers could be recognized within the canopy, suggesting that the forest is uneven-aged and multi-storied. Structure analysis of tree height and diameter showed that the arborous layer was stable and maintained a certain regenerative ability. Shrubs showed a patchy spatial pattern with simple structure and low richness. Compared to low coverage (15.4±20.9%) of shrubs, coverage of herbs and bryophytes (49.4±21.9% and 36.6±21.2%, respectively) were higher, forming obvious herb and bryophyte layers. A total of 124 vascular species (109 herbs and 15 shrubs) were recorded in all six plots, belonging to 68 genera and 30 families. Temperate areal-type genera and hemicryptophyte species were dominant. We concl- uded that the forest was a moss-spruce forest type. Although the species composition and richness were quite similar to other forests in Tibetan Plateau, community structure differed significantly. Our results provide in-sights into management and biodiversity conservation in forests near the timberline in the eastern Tibetan Plateau.