The 20th Anniversary of Biodiversity Science
Since the 1990s, Taiwan’s academic community has been promoting the conservation, education, and research of biodiversity. The Administration authority passed the “Biodiversity Promotion Plan” in 2001 and the Research Agency established an independent Biodiversity discipline in 2002. Subsequently, several universities and the Academia Sinica either founded or reorganized biodiversity research institutes or centers to actively carry out related research. The Research Agency sponsors basic scientific studies, whereas the Agriculture Agency focuses on direct applications, including conservation, management, and utilization of natural resources. This article reviews Taiwan’s research achievements over the past 10 years by summarizing the contents in the “DIVERSITAS” chapter in the book of “Taiwan Global Change Research” (published in 2009). The excerpt covers taxonomy, long-term ecological studies, ecosystem modeling, climate change, phylogeography, genetic resources, habitat restoration, and database construction. We report the trends in publication year, discipline, habitat type, and study organism of all SCI (Science Citation Index) papers published from Taiwan in the past 10 years to gauge the capacity and progress of biodiversity research in Taiwan. Lastly, we report the problems and prospects of Taiwan’s future biodiversity research.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was adopted by United Nations Conference of Environment and Development (UNCED) in June 1992 as a milestone event. During the past 20 years, China established the national coordination mechanisms for CBD implementation in 1993, conducted a country study for biodiversity conservation during 1995–1997, formulated China National Biodiversity Conservation Strategy and Action Plan during 2007–2010, founded the National Committee for Biodiversity Conservation in 2011, and, aiming to CBD’s objectives, implemented a lot of researches and actions for biodiversity conservation, including: protection of ecosystems such as forests, grasslands, deserts, wetlands and marine areas; investigations, inventory and databases for species; increased protection of rare and endangered species; control of alien invasive species; and risk assessment for genetically-modified organisms. Challenges to biodiversity conservation include, establishment of biodiversity monitoring system, in situ conservation, access and benefit sharing of genetic resources, and protection and application of traditional knowledge. Lastly, we report potential research topics for biodiversity conservation.
It is an important task in biodiversity conservation to assess species endangerment status and determine protection priorities. Although IUCN Redlist Criteria are improving through periodical revision, people are still developing different criteria because information about population census, habitat status and life history of a given species are often lacking. We reviewed the progress of assessing species endangerment status, both internationally and domestically, and propose that future designations combine distribution area, life history, ecological function, anthropogenic interference and special use data to more accurately assess endangerment status. As an example, we assessed the status of terrestrial vertebrates in China using this method. Our results showed that five species were listed in the category of extinct, 30 species were extinct, 343 species were endangered, 459 species were threatened, 439 species were concerned, and 1,032 species were least concerned.
As one of the five major global environmental problems, invasive species have posed serious threats to native ecosystems, public health, and regional economies. Although much progress has been made in the field of biological invasions research in China over the last decade, there are still large knowledge gaps. This paper reviews progress in the field of biological invasions research since 2000 as it relates to China, covering the diversity, colonization and immigration patterns of invasive species, mechanisms and ecological effects of biological invasions, and management and control of invasive species. In China, 529 invasive alien species have been identified, which originated primarily from South and North America, and the major taxa included terrestrial plants, terrestrial invertebrates, and microorganisms. We found a higher prevalence of invasive species in the eastern and southern provinces, compared to the western and northern provinces in China. This pattern is likely due to the differences in the level of economic development and environmental suitability between the two regions. Moreover, with further economic development, China may face more serious biological invasions in the future. These invasions of alien species are largely the combined results of the interactions between the intrinsic traits of these species along with resource opportunities and disturbances by human beings. Many mechanisms are responsible for successful invasions of alien species, but phenotypic plasticity, adaptive evolution, enemy release, interspecific mutualism or commensalism, and new allelochemicals may be primary causative factors. Biological invasions in China have caused serious impacts on native ecosystems, including biodiversity and ecosystem services, alteration of biogeochemical cycles, threats to agricultural and forestry production, traffic and shipping, environmental safety, and public facilities. China has also made progress in the detection and monitoring of invasive species, risk analysis, biological control, radical elimination, and ecological restoration of degraded ecosystems. We suggest several issues that need to be addressed in invasive species research in the future, including territory-wide inventories, evolutionary ecology and genomics, direct and indirect ecosystem-level consequences, interactions between major components of global change and biological invasions, and management and control technologies.
Microbes with rich species and genetic diversity are widely distributed throughout various habitats in the world. China possesses a variety of climate zones, geographic environments, and complex ecosystems, which play a large role shaping the complex biodiversity of this country. Microbial diversity has been widely studied and well documented by Chinese scientists. For example, a total of ca. 14,700 eukaryotic microbe species have been recorded, including ca. 14,060 fungi, ca. 300 oomycetes, and ca. 340 slime molds. Within the Fungi, there have been 473 medicinal fungal species and 966 edible fungal taxa recorded. However, recent studies have documented much high species diversity of prokaryotic microbes using molecular techniques, which have greatly promoted the study level of microbial diversity in China. This review paper summarizes recent research progress of microbial (i.e., archaea, bacteria, fungi, oomycetes, and slime molds) diversity in China based on traditional and molecular techniques.
This review paper summarizes the history of plant introduction and acclimatization in China, and reviews the current status and progress of plant ex situ conservation. Overall, a total of 23,340 species belonging to 3,633 genera, and 396 families are maintained in botanical gardens, whereas 412,000 accessions of 1,890 crop or crop relatives species are preserved in Chinese national crop germplasm banks and 54,000 accessions of 7,271 wild plants in Chinese germplasm bank of wild species. The paper also discussed problems and challenges in plant ex situ conservation and outlooked further development in future: (1) initiation of “Ex situ Cultivated Flora of China project”; (2) development of integrating research of ex situ and in situ plant conservation; (3) enhancing research in ex situ conservation theory and methodology for endemic plants of China; (4) facilitating restoration and recovery of rare and endangered plants into wild on basis of ex situ conservation; and (5) strengthening evaluation and utilization of economic important plants.
Although China has a very rich biodiversity, it is also part of a region where biodiversity resources have declined rapidly. Threats to biodiversity in China include a large human population, economic and industrial development, climate change, and exotic invasive species. In situ conservation of biodiversity is needed for sustainable development and natural resource management in China. We provide a summary of results of in situ conservation research and use these data to develop future research directions. The focal areas of in situ conservation research over the last 6 decades focused on biodiversity resource investigation, endangered species management, and the construction of nature reserves. Large efforts including a series of protection action plans were implemented by the Chinese government to improve biodiversity conservation. Future research on in situ biodiversity conservation in China should focus on: (1) the mechanisms of the formation and maintenance of biodiversity; (2) identifying the major threats to the conservation of biodiversity; (3) being coupled with long-term monitoring for the effective management and (4) legislation of natural resources.
Since Biodiversity Science (formerly Chinese Biodiversity) was founded in October 1993 by the Biodiversity Committee of Chinese Academy of Sciences, it has been well received by authors and readers in China. The scope and focus of the journal that put forward by the first Editor-in-chief, Prof. Yingqian Qian have been well carried out by his successors. As the only nationwide academic journal in China, the Journal specifically addresses the major issues of biodiversity, and comprehensively reports on achievements in the field of biodiversity research. To gain an overview of the Journal, we analyzed publication trends including study organisms and subject areas, authors and affiliation, funding agency, and citation frequency based on data from the database CNKI and the Journal’s website. Major research topics included biological invasion, biodiversity and global change, DNA barcoding, biodiversity monitoring, phylodiversity, biodiversity informatics, along with research regarding the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Overall, 13 special issues/special features were published since 2000. Among 1,189 papers (excluding four English supplements), 149 papers were on species diversity, 113 papers on genetic diversity, and 38 papers on ecosystem diversity. Studies on plant diversity and animal diversity represented a significant proportion of the publications, whereas few papers were published on microbial diversity. Among all the authors, Fang Jingyun ranked first with 41 papers, followed by Ma Keping (31 papers), and Chen Jiakuan (22 papers). The top 10 authors in terms of number of published papers came from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Peking University, and Fudan University. The mean number of authors per paper was ~1.5 in 1993 and increased to ~4 in 2011, showing increased collaboration in the study work. Concordantly, the mean number of pages per paper increased from 5 pages of 1993 to ~10 pages of 2011. There were more than 200 papers that were cited >400 times, with the largest up to 970 (as of August 10, 2012). This resulted in two peaks of papers with high citation numbers in 1993–1994 (50 times per paper) and 1998–2004 (40 times per paper). Papers were mainly from projects financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The Journal has been ranked one of the leading scientific journals in the field of biology in the country. However, the Journal faces strong competition from international journals. Based on our findings, we provide corresponding countermeasures and suggestions.
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