Biodiv Sci ›› 2018, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (2): 130-137.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2017078

Special Issue: 青藏高原生物多样性与生态安全

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Floristic characteristics and diversity patterns of seed plants endemic to the Tibetan Plateau

Haibin Yu1,2, Yili Zhang1,3,*(), Linshan Liu1, Zhao Chen4, Wei Qi1   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101
    2 School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275
    3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
    4 Guangdong Institute of Eco-environmental Science & Technology, Guangzhou 510650;
  • Received:2017-03-14 Accepted:2017-07-01 Online:2018-02-20 Published:2018-05-05
  • Contact: Zhang Yili
  • About author:# Co-first authors


The Tibetan Plateau (TP) harbors numerous seed plants, however, the floristic characteristics and diversity patterns of plants endemic to this region have been rarely studied. Based on several monographs and online databases, we compiled a list of seed plants that exclusively occur on the TP as well as their distribution at the county level. We further explored their characteristics, floristic composition and spatial distribution patterns. We identified 3,764 endemic seed plants belonging to 519 genera and 113 families, 76.3% of which are herbaceous plants. Among them, 15 families (e.g. Asteraceae, Ranunculaceae, Orobanchaceae) and 7 genera (e.g. Pedicularis, Rhododendron, Corydalis) contain over 100 endemic species. Floristic composition analysis indicates that 67.5% of these endemic plants are temperate species. Species diversity declined gradually from the southeast to the northwest with hotspots located within the East Himalaya-Hengduan Mountains. Vertically, most species occurred at intermediate elevations. Understanding floristic characteristics and diversity patterns of Tibetan endemic flora shed light on future studies on the evolutional history and conservation practices in this area.

Key words: diversity patterns, flora, endemism, alpine plant, Tibetan Plateau