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Table of Content
    Volume 24 Issue 1
    20 January 2016

    Lycophytes and ferns are ancient vascular plants which have about 12,000 species in the world. Zhou et al (pp. 102–107 of this issue) collated the diversity of lycophytes and ferns in China based on the latest literature, and analyzed their diversity and distribution. The pictures show representative species in China: from left to right, the upper are: Lycopodium complanatum (photoed by Xile Zhou), Isoëtes sinensis (photoed by Baodong Liu), Selaginella pulvinat (photoed by Yuehong Yan); the bottom are: Psilotum nudum (photoed by Xile Zhou), Alsophila spinulosa (photoed by Xile Zhou), Polypodiodes chinensis (photoed by Xile Zhou).

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    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  0-0. 
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    Orginal Article
    Hot topics for Biodiversity Science
    Keping Ma
    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  1-2.  doi:10.17520/biods.2016029
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    Identification of lotus cultivars using DNA fingerprinting
    Jianhua Xue,Li Jiang,Xiaolin Ma,Yanhong Bing,Sichen Zhao,Keping Ma
    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  3-11.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015157
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    DNA fingerprinting is a fast and accurate method for cultivar identification, which can overcome the limitation of morphological traits. We used DNA fingerprinting to identify 72 lotus (Nelumbo) cultivars collected from the Resources Garden of the Yuanmingyuan Park in Beijing. We used 1,409 samples of N. nucifera and 58 samples of N. lutea as a genetic background reference. Fifteen out of 104 pairs of nucleus microsatellite primers (nSSR) and 2 out of 17 pairs of chloroplast microsatellite primers (cpSSR), for a total of 17 pairs of fluorescent primers, were selected as the barcode for fingerprint identification of the 72 lotus cultivars. For the 15 nSSR primers, 94 alleles were examined (with an average of 6.27). Out of the 94 alleles, 11 belong to N. lutea, 65 belong to N. nucifera, and the remaining 18 alleles could not be identified. The polymorphism information content (PIC) range between 0.3899 and 0.8023, with an average value of 0.5748. For the two pairs of cpSSR primers, 13 haplotypes were examined. Among them, 9 haplotypes belong to N. nucifera and 4 haplotypes belong to N. lutea. Results of identification of all 17 pairs of primer markers showed that 19 cultivars included genes from N. lutea, and 8 cultivars had female parents from N. lutea. There were 36 cultivars (using 12 pairs of primers) which had at least one unique genotype. With a minimum of 8 pairs of primers, 68 cultivars could be distinguished. Among the 72 cultivars, four cultivars in two groups could not be distinguished based on the whole set of 17 primers. Using the core primer combination method, we developed specific DNA fingerprints for each of the 68 lotus cultivars. Based on the above results, we recommended 15 pairs of primers including 13 pairs of nSSR and 2 pairs of cpSSR as the core barcode for lotus cultivar identification.

    Invasiveness, clonal form and geographical origin of invasive clonal plant species in China
    Ning Wang,Weifang Li,Bing Zhou,Xiaohong Yan
    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  12.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015190
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    The invasiveness, clonal form and geographical origin of invasive clonal plant species in China were analyzed based on some literature reviews. Of the 515 invasive plant species in China, at least 196 (38.1%) were clonal plant species. These invasive clonal plant species belong to 46 families, and most of them are from Gramineae, Asteraceae and Leguminosae. The majority of the invasive clonal plant species were introduced intentionally by human activity. In the 1-5 invasiveness ranks, most invasive clonal plant species belong to the rank 5 (i.e. species requiring further observation). Chi-square tests showed that species invasiveness ranks did not significantly depend on the presence/absence of clonality, but that they significantly depended on the presence/absence of rhizomes. Perennial and annual herbs accounted for the majority of the 196 invasive clonal plant species. Many invasive clonal herbs reproduce asexually by tillers, stolons or rhizomes. The primary geographical origin of these invasive clonal plant species was America. The results suggest that in future attention should be paid when rhizomatous clonal plant species or clonal plant species from America are introduced. However, our methods may have underestimated the number and proportion of invasive clonal plant species because of limited information about modes of reproduction in the literature. Thus, fieldwork should be conducted to check the clonality of each species to accurately analyze the number and proportion of invasive clonal plant species in China in future.

    Suitable winter habitat for Cervus elaphus on the southern slope of the Lesser Xing’an Mountains
    Wen Wu,Yuehui Li,Yuanman Hu,Long Chen,Yue Li,Zeming Li,Zhiwen Nie,Tan Chen
    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  20-29.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015177
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    Abstract: In the Tieli Forestry Bureau of the Lesser Xing’an Mountains in Northeast China, we recorded a total of 79 GPS coordinates of presence traces for red deer (Cervus elaphus) during winter field investigations in November 2014 and January 2015. We grouped 19 environmental predictor variables into four classes including terrain, landscape type, vegetation structure and human disturbance, we used the MaxEnt model to predict potential suitable winter habitat distribution for red deer and determine the contribution of each environment factor to the distribution characteristics. The accuracy of our prediction models was accessed by the area under the curve (AUC) values of a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve, and validation showed that the results had high average AUCs: 0.949 for training data and 0.958 for testing data. The results of a Jackknife test indicated that landscape type had the strongest influence on winter habitat suitability of red deer among the 4 class variables. Aspect, distance to road, distance to mixed forest, distance to bush-grass land, and distance to farmland appeared to be the most important parameters with contributed to the variance 27.8%, 23.9%, 19.5%, 15.3%, and 10.4%, respectively. Distance to path had an insignificant influence on red deer distribution. The Youden Index was applied to determine the threshold value for habitat classification in the MaxEnt modeling. The simulated habitat was divided into two classes including suitable (≥ threshold value) and unsuitable (< threshold value) habitat using a threshold value of 0.22. Our results showed that the area of suitable habitat was 663.49 km2 and the unsuitable habitat was 1,378.85 km2, accounting for 32% and 68% of the total area of Tieli Forestry Bureau, respectively. Areas with a high suitability of deer habitat were located mostly in the eastern mountainous region and the central forest area. The southern plain area was not suitable habitat for red deer because they were in close proximity to Tieli City. Results from our study suggest forest managers need to control human disturbance, build a diversified landscape, and protect predicted suitable habitat areas in order to better preserve the deer population.

    Responses of spatial pattern of woody plants’ basal area to topographic factors in a tropical karst seasonal rainforest in Nonggang, Guangxi, southern China
    Yili Guo,Bin Wang,Wusheng Xiang,Tao Ding,Shuhua Lu,Fuzhao Huang,Shujun Wen,Dongxing Li,Yunlin He,Xiankun Li
    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  30-39.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015207
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    Spatial patterns of aboveground biomass are important aspect of species distribution patterns, whereas the environmental heterogeneity caused by the topographical differences in the scope of local scales is the environmental basis for the formation and evolution of this pattern in natural forest systems. In this study, we examined the spatial patterns of total basal area of woody plants, to quantitatively analyze the response mechanisms of the spatial patterns of total basal area to the seven topographic factors using a generalized additive model in a fully mapped 15 ha permanent plot in a northern tropical seasonal rainforest in a karst landscape in southern China. We used the total basal area of all the individuals and each DBH class in each 20 m × 20 m quadrat as a standard to measure the value of aboveground biomass of woody plants. Results showed that the hillside had the highest total basal area but the lowest was found at the ridge of the three habitat types. The total basal area of the ridge was significantly different between the hillside and the depression. Topographic factors had definite effects on the total basal area of woody plants, with the following sequence: elevation > aspect > convexity > rock-bareness rate (RBR) > altitude above channel (ACH) > slope > topographic wetness index (TWI). All topographical factors were statistically significant with the exception of the TWI and slope showing marginally significant. The relationships between the spatial variation of total basal area of woody plants and topographic factors reflected the response mechanisms and growth strategies of woody plants in a tropical seasonal rainforest under the effects of the redistribution of soil, water and light conditions.

    Response of lianas to edge effects in mid-montane moist evergreen broad- leaved forests in the Ailao Mountains, SW China
    Chunming Yuan,Yunfen Geng,Yong Chai,Jiabo Hao,Tao Wu
    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  40-47.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015248
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    Forests are becoming increasingly fragmented worldwide. Compared to other woody plants (i.e., trees and shrubs), lianas are more concentrated near the edge than in the forest interior. Therefore, understanding how lianas respond to edge effects is important for predicting the impacts of lianas on forests dynamics. In this study, change of lianas on the edge-to-interior gradients was investigated in a subtropical mid-montane moist evergreen broad-leaved forest in the Ailao Mountains, SW China. Ten 20 m × 50 m transect sample plots were established in 13-, 35- and 53-year forest edges along the gradient situated perpendicular to the edges. Each plot was divided into five 20 m × 10 m quadrats, and those lianas with ≥ 2.0 m in length and ≥ 0.2 cm in diameter at breast height (DBH) were measured. We recorded a total of 2,426 individual lianas in the 3-ha sample plots, representing 31 species in 19 genera and 14 families. Our results are as follows: (1) Liana species richness and abundance decreased with increasing distance from the edge; the distance of edge effects for the 35-year forest edge was 30 m, and 20 m for 13- and 53-year forest edges. Liana breast height area in the 53-year forest edge was significantly higher within 20 m of the forest edge than in the forest interior, whereas there was no significant difference along the edge to interior gradient in the 13- and 35-year forest edges; (2) Liana species responded differently to edge effects, including species present exclusively at or near the edges (within 20 m of the edge), species density decreased with increasing distance from the edge, and species were insensitive to edge effects, which showed minor variation or random fluctuation throughout the gradient; and (3) Results from the canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) indicated that canopy openness, edge age and soil moisture were the most important factors that determined the distribution of lianas at the forest edges.

    Marine biodiversity evaluation based on the pressure-state-response (PSR) model of Changhai County, Liaoning Province
    Bei Huang,Na Wei,Weijie Meng,Mingxia Zhang
    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  48-54.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015159
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    Abstract: Biodiversity is the basis for survival and development of human society and it affects various aspects of modern life. In order to assess the marine biodiversity status in coastal areas of northern China, and to study the impacts of socio-economic development on the local marine biodiversity, we conducted a trial study in Changhai County. Changhai is the only island county in the China, which is also rich in various biological resources. As a famous northern fishery county, the primary industries in Changhai are marine fisheries and aquaculture. We collected data on social economic development, the ecological environment, and environmental protection in Changhai County during 2004-2013. We selected 19 indicators to build the marine biodiversity assessment framework based on the pressure-state-response (PSR) model, determined the weight values using the Analytical Hierarchy Process approach, and calculated the Marine Biodiversity Index. The results showed that the Marine Biodiversity Index reached a maximum value of 0.660 and thus matched to level “Good” in 2004, and then declined to 0.471 and to level “Medium” in 2013. During the investigated period, the state of marine biodiversity in 2004-2007 was better than that in 2008-2013. Changes in pressure, state, and response indices revealed that the trends of weighted scores of several pressure indicators, such as the discharge of industrial waste water, fixed asset investment, aquaculture of non-indigenous species, number of tourists, and port cargo all showed an obvious decreasing tendency, which suggest growing pressures on marine biodiversity, and potential impacts on biodiversity in Changhai.

    Biodiversity and ecosystem multifunctionality: advances and perspectives
    Wei Xu,Zhiyuan Ma,Xin Jing,Jin-Sheng He
    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  55.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015091
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    As global biodiversity losses accelerate, there is increasing evidence shows that there may be negative impacts on ecosystem functioning, such as declines in plant primary productivity and imbalances in nutrient cycling. Thus, it is critical to understand the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF). However, ecosystems can provide multiple functions simultaneously (ecosystem multifunctionality, EMF). Since 2007, the quantification of relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem multifunctionality (BEMF) has generated additional questions and controversies, such as the lack of consensus in appropriate multifunctionality indices and uncertain trade-offs among ecosystem functions. In this review, we briefly summarize the history of BEMF studies and the methods of EMF quantification, then outline the mechanisms of EMF maintenance and current research progress. We emphasize the importance of optimizing EMF quantifications and investigating the relationship between different dimensions of biodiversity and EMF. We also provide suggestions and directions for future research on BEMF.

    A review on the measurement of ecosystem multifunctionality
    Wei Xu,Xin Jing,Zhiyuan Ma,Jin-Sheng He
    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  72-84.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015170
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    The relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem multifunctionality (BEMF) is a hot issue in current ecological studies. The measurement of ecosystem multifunctionality (EMF) is a crucial aspect of BEMF research; however, the metrics of EMF have been inconsistent among previous studies. We reviewed seven approaches of quantifying EMF (single function approach, turnover approach, averaging approach, single threshold approach, multiple thresholds approach, orthologous approach and multivariate model approach) and classified the related studies based on the metrics of EMF used. We illustrated the multiple-threshold approach with published data from our previous work to help researchers better understand the approach. The inconsistent use of EMF metrics made it difficult to compare different studies, which constrains further development of BEMF research. Hence, there is an urgent need to develop a general approach to measuring multifunctionality appropriately.

    Trends and challenges of ecosystem observations in the age of big data
    Shengqi Dai,Bin Zhao
    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  85-94.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015150
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    With the development of observation technology, the scale of ecological research is increasing. Ecological observations have turned from small-scale, short-time individual observations into broad-scale, long-term, interdisciplinary, multi-factor group observations. Innovation in sensor techniques has led to a profound evolution in time and space precision of ecological observations, while the volume, type, and generating speed of these observational data are increasing, which indicates that traditional ecological data acquisition, storage and management methods cannot afford the demands of modern ecological research. With the assistance of new big data storage, management and processing techniques, integrated with the Internet of Ecology, a citizen science observational network and standardized data management network, we can build an ecological observation system to resolve these issues. The concept to provide a one-station ecological observation service to researchers represents the general trend of the development of ecological observations in the age of big data.

    Floral evolution and pollination shifts of the “Malpighiaceae route” taxa, a classical model for biogeographical study
    Zhenna Qian,Mingxun Ren
    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  95-101.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015195
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    The “Malpighiaceae route” is proposed based on the distribution pattern of the family Malpighiaceae to explain plant inter-continent disjunctions and long-distance dispersal during historical periods. The route involves seven inter-continent dispersals from New World (America) to Old World (Africa and Asia) in the Eocene (~ 65 Ma). Malpighiaceae has about 1,300 species, most of which are endemic to the New World and are characterized by “floral conservatism”. Floral conservatism in this family refers to its stereotyped yellow or pink flowers with paired oil-glands on each sepal, a result from co-evolution with specialized oil-collecting Anthophoridae bees. These bees, however, are absent from the Old World. In the African Malpighiaceae, floral conservatism disappeared as a result of adaptations to local pollen-collecting bees. Their flowers became white and radially symmetric, without sepal gland. Furthermore, the floral sex changed to be morphological androdioecy but functional dioecy. These results indicated that African Malpighiaceae had shifted from floral conservatism to generalized floral syndromes. In Asian Malpighiaceae, some studies reported in Aspidopterys and Ryssopterys generalized evolutionary adaptations in floral traits and pollination systems similar to African taxa. But a recent study found mirror-image flowers, a highly-specialized pollination system, in the Asia-endemic genus Hiptage. Mirror-image flowers in Hiptage show a sexual polymorphism in which the style deflects either to the left or the right side of the floral axis, which is a highly specialized mechanism promoting cross-pollination between left- and right-styled flowers via pollinators touching two sexual organs respectively with their left and right side of abdomens. Hiptage is also notable for its heteromorphic stamens, bilaterally-symmetric corolla, and extremely-reflected petals. Its main pollinators are the pollen-collecting honeybees such as Apis dorsata. These results indicate that the Asian Malpighiaceae could shift from floral conservatism to specialized pollination systems adapted to pollen-gathering honeybees. Hiptage is also distinctive for its position in a clade with complete migration history of Malpighiaceae route, having endemic genera respectively in South and Central America, Africa, and Asia. Further experimental studies on this genus and other Asia-endemic genera are needed to fully understand the Malpighiaceae route and its associated evolutionary adaptations, which will be helpful for studies on plant long-distance dispersal and inter-continent disjunctions.

    Diversity and distribution of lycophytes and ferns in China
    Xile Zhou,Xianchun Zhang,Jiuqiong Sun,Yuehong Yan
    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  102-107.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015256
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    The species catalogue and phylogenetic arrangement are the basis of species diversity studies. We collated the latest lycophytes and ferns in China found in recent years using the system from Flora of China. There are 2,147 species, 5 subspecies, 118 varieties, 178 genera and 40 families of lycophytes and ferns in China, including 839 endemic species, which accounts for 39.08% of total species. The top five families are Dryopteridaceae (505 species, including subspecies and varieties), Athyriaceae (323 species), Polypodiaceae (280 species), Pteridaceae (266 species) and Thelypteridaceae (209 species). The top five genera are Polystichum (209 species), Dryopteris (176 species), Athyrium (137 species), Diplazium (98 species) and Pteris (97 species). The following five provinces are rich in lycophytes and ferns: Yunnan (1,365 species), Sichuan (875 species), Guizhou (838 species), Guangxi (785 species) and Taiwan (779 species). Endemic species are rich in families including Dryopteridaceae (257 species), Athyriaceae (169 species), and Pteridaceae (113 species) and genera of Polystichum (140 species), Athyrium (82 species), and Dryopteris (61 species).

    Establishment of a mechanism on sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction
    Jing Xu,Miaozhuang Zheng,Yan Liu,Wenjing Liu,Senlu Yin,Junsheng Li
    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  108.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015155
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    Along with the increase in the utilization of marine biodiversity, conservation is facing challenges. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and its protocols cannot overcome these challenges. The United Nations General Assembly has mandated a working group with the aim to elaborate a new protocol, in order to address the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. Access to marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdictions and sharing of benefits arising from their utilization is one of the core issues in discussion, but there is also a lack of common understanding among UN member states regarding the elements of this new protocol. In this paper, we analyze the differences and commonalities of definitions, scope, access, and benefit-sharing in the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Nagoya Protocol, and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Recommendations for the establishment of access and benefit-sharing mechanisms for marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdictions were raised: (1) marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdictions are not free to access; (2) the definition of marine genetic resources should cover marine natural products, which are derived from the metabolism of marine living organisms; (3) benefit-sharing obligation shall apply to the genetic resources are accessed before the entry into force of new protocol but are utilized after that; (4) access should be authorized by a competent authority to ensure an Material Transfer Agreement or mutually agreed terms are established; (5) simplified procedures should apply to access for noncommercial purpose, and to great threats on health and food safety, but benefits should also be shared if there is a follow-up commercialization plan; and (6) benefits should be clarified at different stages of the R&D chain, as disclosure of information and monitoring of follow-up utilization conducts are necessary to ensure benefits are shared.

    International negotiations on synthetic biology and China’s implementation strategies within the Convention on Biological Diversity framework
    Minghao Qiu,Yue Huang,Jieqing Zhang,Yi Huang
    Biodiv Sci. 2016, 24 (1):  114-120.  doi:10.17520/biods.2015151
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    Much attention has been paid to synthetic biology in recent years for its potential applications and unpredictable eco-risks. The 12th Conference of the Parties (COP12) of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), held in Korea in October 2014, formally addressed the topic of synthetic biology for the first time. Based on literature retrieved from CBD documents and technical reports, this paper reviews the process by which synthetic biology entered the agenda of CBD negotiations and provides the latest updates on this issue. Given the latest demands made and China’s current status in the development and risk assessment of synthetic biology, we analyze the challenges that China is facing in relation to negotiation and implementation. Research in synthetic biology in China is still in its early stages. Despite the surging investments in scientific research this field, wide application and commercialization is not to be expected in the near future. China's capacity to assess risks of associated technologies is rather limited and no government agency is explicitly in charge of bio-security in this respect yet. We propose that the Chinese delegation should argue for positions including strictly controlling risks, encouraging responsible development, and calling for more technical and technological support from developed countries during the negotiations of risk assessment. Further, we suggest that establishing accountability of the governing administrative department, promoting the development of risk assessment techniques, compiling a synthetic biology national database, and organizing professional risk-assessment teams are the key implementation strategies for CBD.

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