Biodiv Sci ›› 2021, Vol. 29 ›› Issue (12): 1591-1598.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2021403

• Special Feature: National Key Protected Wild Plants • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Conservation of gymnosperms in China: Perspectives from the List of National Key Protected Wild Plants

Yong Yang*(), Chao Tan, Zhi Yang   

  1. Co-Innovation Center for the Sustainable Forestry in Southern China, College of Biology and the Environment, Nanjing Forestry University, Nanjing 210037
  • Received:2021-10-08 Accepted:2021-12-20 Online:2021-12-20 Published:2021-12-22
  • Contact: Yong Yang


Aims: We studied the distribution pattern of protected gymnosperms and conducted a comparison of taxonomic changes between the last version (1999) and the recently released version (2021) of the List of National Key Protected Wild Plants (LNKPWP ver. 2021). Our aim was to unveil the characteristics of protected species and identify the gap between protection and taxonomic studies of gymnosperms in China.
Methods: We compiled all gymnosperm species listed in the 2021 List, conducted an analytic comparison using the Microsoft Access (ver. 2016), and generated maps of species’ distribution patterns using ArcGIS.
Results: We found that the number of protected gymnosperms has increased in comparison to those listed in 1999, although some families and genera have been removed. To summarize: (1) at the family level, with the inclusion of Podocarpaceae and Ephedraceae the percentage of protected families has increased to 87.5% from 62.5%, with Gnetaceae being the only family that is not represented on the 2021 List; (2) at the genus level, the inclusion of three additional genera Ephedra, Podocarpus, Xanthocyparis and the exclusion of one genus Larix. The percentage of protected genera has increased to 67.6% of total gymnosperm genera in China in comparison to 62.2% on the 1999 List; (3) at the species level, the percentage of protected species is ca. 38.7% of total gymnosperm species in China in comparison to vs. 30% of the 1999 List. The protected species are not evenly distributed in the country, with more species in Yunnan, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hunan, and Sichuan, whereas a number of northern provinces have no protected species, e.g. Xinjiang, Qinghai, Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong, and Beijing.
Conclusions: To enhance the capability of species protection and law enforcement by relevant government departments, we suggest: (1) establish a specialist database as soon as possible, as well as revise and improve the action plans and protection techniques for each species; (2) establish a comprehensive photo bank of protected species to provide better technical support for species identification using cell phone applications; (3) establish and complete a reference database of DNA barcodes of each protected species to improve the speed and accuracy of their identification. We also suggest that the government should initiate projects to conduct targeted field investigations of gymnosperm species because the percentage of threatened gymnosperms is higher compared to other groups of threatened plants in China, essential biological data for gymnosperm species is lacking, and several taxonomic problems remain. The new investigation will lay an important foundation for a new round of red list assessment of gymnosperm species and assist in developing appropriate action plans for their protection.

Key words: China, endangered species, gymnosperms, protection, red list, List of National Key Protected Wild Plants