Biodiv Sci ›› 2004, Vol. 12 ›› Issue (3): 339-347.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2004041

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The ecological response of fern diversity to vegetation succession in Gudoushan Nature Reserve, Guangdong

YAN Yue-Hong, YI Qi-Fei, HUANG Zhong-Liang, XING Fu-Wu*   

  1. South China Institute of Botany,Chinese Academy of Sciences,Guangzhou 510650
  • Received:2003-10-15 Revised:2004-02-28 Online:2004-05-20 Published:2004-05-20
  • Contact: XING Fu-Wu

Abstract: Ferns were the first terricolous vascular plants, and still comprise an important part of primary productivity of ecosystems. On the one hand, they make a great contribution to the processes of dynamics and development of the forest community; on the other hand, because of their sensitivity to change in ecological factors, the composition of the fern community and its adaptations change with the development of forest community. In order to understand the changes of composition and the adaptability of ferns in the process of vegetation succession, a survey on a successional series of vegetation was carried out in Gudoushan Nature Reserve, 112°52′30″-113°03′25″E and 22°5′00″-22°21′15″N, which is located in the southcentral area of Guangdong Province, China. Four quadrats of 100 m2 each (4×5 m×5 m) were located in grassland, shrub, secondary forest dominated by heliophytic trees, and typical southern subtropical monsoon evergreen broadleaf forest (hereafter abbreviated as “primary forest”) dominated by shadeadapted trees. The importance value (IV) of each fern species and the index of α and β-diversity of communities in the process of vegetational succession were calculated. Changes in leaf characteristics, shade tolerance and reproductive strategy of ferns in the course of vegetation succession were analyzed. The results showed that, with the development of communities from grassland to shrub, to secondary forest and to primary forest, (1) the index of β-diversity among different fern communities increased, but the index of similarity among different communities decreased; (2) species richness increased, but the ShannonWeiner index, Simpson index and index of evenness did not increase with the change in richness; (3) proportion of ferns with leathery leaves decreased gradually, but the proportion of ferns with herbaceous leaves increased, and ferns with membranous leaves appeared in the last stages; (4) the proportion of shadetolerant ferns increased gradually, and suntolerant ferns decreased; (5) the proportion of ferns with sexual reproduction increased gradually, while the ferns with asexual reproduction decreased. The results also indicate that the ferns and their adaptation to the environment are useful indexes that reflect the change of the environment in different vegetational stages. More attention should be paid to the interaction between ferns and trees in the practice of restoration and conservation of biodiversity.