Biodiv Sci ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (10): 1069-1080.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2019059

• Original Papers: Plant Diversity • Previous Articles     Next Articles

A comparative study on the community characteristics of secondary and old-growth evergreen broad-leaved forests in Gutianshan, Zhejiang Province

Tiantian Zhang1,Xuan Wang2,Haibao Ren2,Jianping Yu3,Yi Jin1,Haiyuan Qian3,Xiaoyou Song3,Keping Ma2,Mingjian Yu1,*()   

  1. 1 College of Life Sciences, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058
    2 State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093
    3 Center of Ecology and Resources, Qianjiangyuan National Park, Kaihua, Zhejiang 324300
  • Received:2019-02-28 Accepted:2019-09-01 Online:2019-10-20 Published:2019-10-20
  • Contact: Mingjian Yu


Evergreen broad-leaved forests (EBLFs), which are the primary zonal vegetation of subtropical East Asia, shelter high biodiversity and contribute significantly to human welfare. Today, most EBLFs are secondary growth due to long-term human activity. The few remaining old-growth EBLFs are small, scattered patches. Understanding how secondary and old-growth EBLFs differ in their community characteristics would provide guidance for their conservation and restoration. Here, we compare the dominant species composition, species and functional diversity, and aboveground biomass between old-growth (fifteen 20 m × 20 m plots) and secondary (fourteen 20 m × 20 m plots) EBLFs in Gutianshan National Nature Reserve (GNNR). We found that: (1) Both old-growth and secondary EBLFs were dominated by the same set of evergreen broad-leaved species, such as Castanopsis eyrei and Schima superba, but the species dominance order was inconsistent in the two forest types. (2) Secondary EBLFs had a higher Shannon-Wiener index value and greater functional dispersion than old-growth EBLFs, but neither the Bray-Curtis dissimilarity index values nor the functional Sørensen index values differed greatly between secondary and old-growth EBLFs. (3) When considering three vertical forest layers separately, the differences in the Shannon-Wiener and Bray-Curtis indices between secondary and old-growth EBLFs were mainly reflected in the tree and shrub layers. (4) Looking at the community structure overall, the stem density was greater in secondary EBLFs than old-growth EBLFs. Additionally, the community level and the individual level biomass were both lower in secondary EBLFs than old-growth EBLFs. These findings suggest that human disturbance has changed multiple characteristics of the EBLFs in GNNR, and their recovery process has been asymmetrical. Accordingly, any conservation plans to restore the biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in EBLFs should adopt a multi-faceted strategy.

Key words: old-growth forest, secondary forest, species composition, α diversity, β diversity, functional trait, biomass, stem density