Volume 29 Issue 3   20 March 2021
Since December 2015, China has set up ten national park pilots, such as Sanjiangyuan National Park pilot, Shennongjia National Park pilot, and Wuyishan National Park pilot. In this issue, 17 papers were published to summarize the experiences and strategies for the pilot construction. The picture shows Polygonum siberium and Grus nigricollis in Donggecuona Lake in the Sanjianyuan National Park. (Photographed by Youchong Li)
    • Special Feature: National Park Pilots of China
      National park governance system of China: Principles, vision and approaches
      Rui Yang
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  269-271.  doi:10.17520/biods.2021022
      Abstract ( 262 )   HTML ( 36 )   PDF (441KB) ( 227 )   Save
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      Suggestions on improving the management system of national parks
      Zhiyun Ouyang, Weihua Xu, Zhenhua Zang
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  272-274.  doi:10.17520/biods.2021083
      Abstract ( 164 )   HTML ( 19 )   PDF (446KB) ( 175 )   Save
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      Exploration on the value realization of ecological products in China’s national park system pilots
      Zhenhua Zang, Weihua Xu, Zhiyun Ouyang
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  275-277.  doi:10.17520/biods.2021084
      Abstract ( 289 )   HTML ( 18 )   PDF (491KB) ( 214 )   Save
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      Pilot areas for national park system in China: Progress, problems and recommendations
      Boyan Li, Yanpeng Zhu, Weiwei Liu, Shuang Li, Mengdi Fu, Yueheng Ren, Xuan Cai, Junsheng Li
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  283-289.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020258
      Abstract ( 141 )   HTML ( 16 )   PDF (890KB) ( 118 )   Save
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      Background: The establishment of national park system (NPS) is an important content of ecological civilization of China, and is an important measure to realize modernization of governance system and governance capacity in the field of natural and ecological protection. Aiming to obtain practical experience for reform of the NPS, central government of China launched pilot construction of the NPS in 2015.
      Progress: For assessing efficiency of pilot reforms in the past five years, we carried out in-depth investigation and research in 10 national parks (NPs). The result showed that: pilot reform of the NPS was reliably and orderly promoted and accumulated a batch of replicable and propagable experience, especially on top design of the NPS, establishment of management mechanism, law and regulations construction, ecological environment protection, strengthening foundation of protection management. However, there was also relative lack of laws, regulations and standards. Management system reform of the NPS did not reach the designated position. It was also lack of monitoring system of ecological environment. Financial support was still not mature, contradictions between natural protection and society development were still obvious.
      Perspective:This paper provides relational countermeasure and suggestion for law system construction, deepening the reform of management system, improving the ecological environment supervision mechanism, building diversified funds safeguard mechanism, and promoting to build, to manage and to share the NPs. This paper also provides reference and basis to formally build a batch of NPs, and to preliminary establish the NPS in 2021.

      Some opinions on the integration and optimization of natural protected areas in China
      Jixi Gao, Xiaoman Liu, Daqing Zhou, Keping Ma, Qiong Wu, Guangyu Li
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  290-294.  doi:10.17520/biods.2021051
      Abstract ( 176 )   HTML ( 17 )   PDF (559KB) ( 195 )   Save
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      The experiences of Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park pilot
      Weihua Xu, Zhenhua Zang, Ao Du, Zhiyun Ouyang
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  295-297.  doi:10.17520/biods.2021044
      Abstract ( 117 )   HTML ( 10 )   PDF (461KB) ( 118 )   Save
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      On the experiences of Qilian Mountain National Park system pilot
      Kun Jin
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  298-300.  doi:10.17520/biods.2021046
      Abstract ( 103 )   HTML ( 7 )   PDF (439KB) ( 109 )   Save
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      The five integrative management strategies of Sanjiangyuan National Park
      Xinquan Zhao
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  301-303.  doi:10.17520/biods.2021023
      Abstract ( 77 )   HTML ( 7 )   PDF (516KB) ( 85 )   Save
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      The experience and its reference study of law enforcement system of Sanjiangyuan National Park pilot
      Hongqiao Su, Nan Wang, Yang Su
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  304-306.  doi:10.17520/biods.2021047
      Abstract ( 75 )   HTML ( 3 )   PDF (403KB) ( 75 )   Save
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      The Giant Panda National Park: Experiences and lessons learned from the pilot
      Sheng Li, Jie Feng, Binbin V. Li, Zhi L
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  307-311.  doi:10.17520/biods.2021074
      Abstract ( 138 )   HTML ( 17 )   PDF (561KB) ( 171 )   Save
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      Distinguishing‍ feature‍ and‍ suggestions‍ of‍ Shennongjia‍ National‍ Park‍ system pilot
      Zongqiang Xie, Guozhen Shen
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  312-314.  doi:10.17520/biods.2021048
      Abstract ( 95 )   HTML ( 7 )   PDF (459KB) ( 92 )   Save
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      Experiences of and suggestions for the development of the Qianjiangyuan- Baishanzu National Park pilot
      Xiaoli Shen, Sheng Li, Keping Ma
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  315-318.  doi:10.17520/biods.2021079
      Abstract ( 92 )   HTML ( 6 )   PDF (542KB) ( 110 )   Save
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      The practice of Nanshan National Park system pilot
      Qing Zeng, Guangchun Lei
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  319-320.  doi:10.17520/biods.2021042
      Abstract ( 88 )   HTML ( 8 )   PDF (369KB) ( 91 )   Save
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      Experience in the Pudacuo National Park system pilot in Shangri-La, Yunnan
      Yuming Yang, Wen Ye, Hongyan Sun
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  325-327.  doi:10.17520/biods.2021038
      Abstract ( 99 )   HTML ( 6 )   PDF (438KB) ( 108 )   Save
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      The experiences of Hainan Tropical Rainforest National Park pilot
      Wenxing Long, Yanjun Du, Xiaojiang Hong, Runguo Zang, Qi Yang, Hui Xue
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  328-330.  doi:10.17520/biods.2021071
      Abstract ( 149 )   HTML ( 14 )   PDF (420KB) ( 149 )   Save
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      Original Papers
      Mammal fauna and biodiversity in the northeastern Taihang Mountains
      Xiangli Bu, Jing Wang, Jiayi Wu, Taifu Sun, Rongwei Xiang, Qingbin Lu, Yinghong Hao, Shaopeng Cui, Yan Sheng, Xiuxiang Meng
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  331-339.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020081
      Abstract ( 305 )   HTML ( 9 )   PDF (2335KB) ( 112 )   Supplementary Material   Save
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      Aims: In order to determine the mammalian fauna and diversity patterns in the northeastern Taihang Mountains, we studied the wild mammalian resources in this area from July 1st to October 30th, 2019.
      Methods: We used a combination of line-transect surveys, camera trap and other methods. The number of species and distribution patterns of mammals in the Taihang and Yanshan areas were compared using biodiversity indices.
      Results: A total of 68 species of mammals were recorded in the region, belonging to 7 orders and 22 families. The majority of species were Rodentia (24 species), while only one Primate species (Macaca mulatta) was found. In this region, two species (Panthera pardus, Cuon alpinus) were listed as Class I National Key Protected Species in China and 10 species, including Naemorhedus griseus, were listed as Class II. The mammalian fauna in Taihang and Yanshan areas was similar with an average faunal resemblance (AFR) of 0.844, but the number of species in Taihang (66) was greater than that in Yanshan (50). The diversity of family index (DF = 2.994 ± 0.251, n = 13) and genus index (DG = 2.443 ± 0.161, n = 13) of Taihang were slightly higher than those in Yanshan (DF= 2.458 ± 0.170, DG= 2.259 ± 0.149, n = 10), but the differences were not statistically significant (P > 0.05). Taihang’s DG-F index (0.145 ± 0.022, n = 13) was significantly higher than that of Yanshan (0.078 ± 0.014, n = 10) (P < 0.05). Our results indicated that species composition in the two areas was similar in family and genus diversity. Whilst, the species diversity of Taihang was higher than that of Yanshan, and dominated by mammals from the Palaearctic region. Although there were 10 types of distributions in Taihang and Yanshan, the former’s proportion of species from the Oriental region (19.11%) was slightly higher than that in Yanshan (17.64%) due to the relatively lower latitude.
      Conclusion: There are environmental stress on the distribution and biodiversity of wild mammals in the northeastern Taihang Mountains. It is suggested that the specific survey should be carried out in this area to determine the stressors and the mechanism of influence, on this basis, the reasonable strategies can be determined and the efficiency of conservation can be improved.

      How to best preserve the irreplaceable habitats of threatened birds in Beijing?
      Yue Huang, Yiyun Gu, Wenrui Yang, Cheng Wen
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  340-350.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020171
      Abstract ( 199 )   HTML ( 9 )   PDF (10844KB) ( 172 )   Supplementary Material   Save
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      Aims: Protecting biodiversity in highly populated metropolises is an important effort for global biodiversity conservation. Beijing is home not only to a large human population, but also large biodiversity clusters. Three levels of conservation management have been administratively delimited: the nature reserves, the ecological red line, and the construction control line. These groups, as a whole, represent the potential areas for conservation (PAC). We intend to explore the methods to conserve the endangered species of birds in Beijing.
      Methods: Here, we explored the coverage of 30 recently recorded threatened bird species based on the existing PAC. Based on each selected species’ habitat preferences, we calculated the species distribution models and combined it with the land use and land cover map to generate the potential distribution map. We then overlayed those maps to obtain the overall distribution pattern in Beijing for the selected bird species. This distribution pattern enabled us to calculate the species richness at any interested sites within our study area.
      Results: Based on the species richness map, we ranked all habitats as four grades based on the number of endangered species present. We also classified urban, rural, and natural areas based on the intensity of urban land use and human activities. This allowed us to calculate the coverage of our ranked key habitats and different urbanization gradient by each of the three PAC groups. We had two major findings. First, 95.64% of grade I and 86.32% of grade II habitats are within the rural areas, whereas merely 0.69% of the rural areas are covered by nature reserves and 15.15% by the ecological protection red line. Second, the defined key habitats ranked as grade I and II but not yet under the umbrella of either the nature reserves or the ecological protection red line are mainly wetlands (waterbodies and marshlands), high coverage grasslands, farmlands, and some large-scale green patches in urban areas with large bodies of water. Based on these results, we offer the following suggestions to help with conservation: (1) preservation of wetlands and the high coverage grasslands surrounding the urban cores efficiently; (2) maintaining the scale of basic farmland and food crop planted; (3) including all bodies of water, marshlands, and high coverage grasslands alongside rivers in ecological protection red line area; (4) delimiting biodiversity conservation zones in large urban greenspaces such as major urban parks; and (5) optimizing the structure of woodland communities in rural and urban areas to satisfy the habitat needs of some specialist species.
      Conclusion: Implementing those conservation practices will provide Beijing with more diverse avian communities. These efforts could be a good case for biodiversity conservation in other major cities of China to follow.

      Community composition and behavioral differences of migrating shorebirds between two habitats within a Suaeda salsa saltmarsh-mudflat wetland mosaics
      Jing Zhang, Yu Bai, Ziqiang Huang, Zhengwang Zhang, Donglai Li
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  351-360.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020189
      Abstract ( 253 )   HTML ( 3 )   PDF (1440KB) ( 72 )   Supplementary Material   Save
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      Aims: The Suaeda salsa saltmarsh is a typical estuarine wetland along the coast of the Yellow Sea and provides an important stopover habitat for migratory waterbirds. From 2017 to 2019, we conducted a bird count and behavioral observation at Liaohekou National Nature Reserve to examine the community composition and behavioral differences of shorebirds in adjacent S. salsa saltmarsh and mudflat tideland habitats.
      Methods: In adjacent S. salsa saltmarsh and mudflat tideland habitats, we counted and comparied the difference of shorebird community composition and behavior during low tide period.
      Results: A total of 6,348 birds comprising 4 families and 28 species were recorded. Species richness was higher in the mudflat than S. salsa saltmarsh in the spring and autumn. Moreover, we found there were significant differences in shorebird community composition between the two habitats—theS. salsa saltmarsh was used more by large-bodied shorebirds (e.g., Numenius madagascariensis, N. arquata, Pluvialis squatarola) while the adjacent mudflat was used more often by small birds (e.g., Charadrius alexandrinus and Calidris alpina). These patterns indicated that the S. salsa saltmarsh has a distinct ecological function for the community formation and maintenance of species diversity of migratory shorebirds. In addition, behavioral data showed that foraging (58.71%-93.26%) was a dominant behavior of shorebirds for both habitats, but a significantly higher percentage of roosting behavior was found in the S. salsa saltmarsh, particularly during the spring stopover stage.
      Conclusion: Our results indicate that the saltmarsh is an important roosting habitat for many shorebirds, and this function cannot be replaced by the adjacent intertidal mudflat. While the general biodiversity of the saltmarsh was lower than that of the mudflat, the large proportion of shared species-composition between the two habitats imply that these two habitats are complementary. As a unique combination for a wetland landscape, the S. salsa saltmarsh and mudflat play irreplaceable roles for providing stopover habitat and maintaining species diversity of shorebirds during migration.

      Fish diversity and resource status in the Yangxian Section of the Hanjiang River under the context of inter-basin water transfer
      Yang Zhao, Chengyi Niu, Xuejian Li, Haibo Liu, Guang Sun, Zunlan Luo, Yahui Zhao
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  361-372.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020158
      Abstract ( 212 )   HTML ( 3 )   PDF (2430KB) ( 60 )   Supplementary Material   Save
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      Aims: The Hanjiang River is an important water source of the Middle Route Scheme of South-North Water Diversion Project and Hanjiang to Weihe River Inter-basin Water Transfer Project. It is necessary to understand the current status and changes of fish species diversity for future conservation of aquatic ecosystem.
      Methods: In order to investigate the fish diversity and resource status in Yangxian section of the Hanjiang River, we surveyed the fish diversity of main stream and six tributaries twice from 2016 to 2017. The indices of Margalef, Shannon-Wiener, Pielou’s, and Jaccard were used to evaluate the main streams and branches in Yangxian County. The index of relative importance (IRI) was calculated to determine the dominant species, and the abundance biomass comparison (ABC) was used to analyze the interference to fish.
      Results: With historical data, our survey showed that this section of the river has 76 native species belonging to 57 genera, 14 families, and 6 orders. Fishes from Cyprinidae and Bagridae are dominant, accounting for 57.89% and 11.84% of the total number of native species, respectively. There are five endangered species, and three of them are classified as National Protected Wild Animals in China. The results of fish diversity analysis showed that the richness index and diversity index of the main stream of the Hanjiang River were significantly higher than those of the six tributaries. IRI index showed that the dominant species was Zacco platypus. An analysis of the ABC curve indicated that the fish community has been seriously disturbed.
      Conclusion: Water conservancy and hydropower projects are the main influences that were correlated with a decrease of fish diversity and populations. The construction of large dams on the main stream will change the habitat from flowing water to still water, and disrupt the connection between upper and lower streams, and cause the disappearance of spawning grounds. Small-sized hydropower stations on the river branches will reduce the water of downstream affecting the fish populations. The inter-basin water transfer project has the potential possibility to introduce fish species from different river systems. Our study provides basic data for the dynamic monitoring of fish diversity and an early warning of invasive species during the construction of the Hanjiang to Weihe River Water Diversion Project.

      Driving forces and the diversity of fungal communities in complex contaminated tailings drainage
      Jinxian Liu, Baofeng Chai, Zhengming Luo
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  373-384.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020181
      Abstract ( 71 )   HTML ( 2 )   PDF (1988KB) ( 38 )   Save
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      Aims:Metal tailings drainage contains heavy metals and a variety of organic and inorganic pollutants, but a large number of microorganisms still exist in this extreme habitat. In order to reveal the composition pattern and diversity maintaining mechanism of fungal communities in alkaline copper mine drainage, the composition, abundance and distribution pattern of fungal communities in five water sites in Shibahe tailings reservoir were studied by using the rDNA gene amplification sequencing and qPCR in ITS1 area.
      Methods:The fungal community compositions among different sample points were compared by principal coordinate analysis (PCoA). The relationship between physicochemical factors and the distribution of fungal communities were analyzed by redundancy analysis (RDA). The main factors influencing community structure were analyzed by null model. The interactions between fungal genera were analyzed by network.
      Results:the results showed that Bullera, Schizangiella, Acremonium and Yarrowia were the dominant genera. The relative abundance of fungal communities varied significantly from phylum to genus level in different sampling sites. The abundance of fungal communities increased gradually along the direction of water flow and was positively correlated with the concentration of total organic carbon (TOC). PH, heavy metals (As and Cu), inorganic carbon (IC) and ammonium nitrogen (NH4+) were significantly correlated with the α-diversity of the communities. The distribution of fungal communities in different sample sites was obviously different. The physicochemical factors had no significant effect on the distribution of fungal community. The null deviation values of fungal communities in different sampling sites were greater than zero, and there were complex interactions among different genera.
      Conclusions:These results indicated that the environmental factors only have a significant correlation with the α-diversity of the fungal communities, while the β-diversity was mainly affected by the interaction between species in tailings drainage. Our findings highlight that there is a relatively complex fungal community dynamic pattern in alkaline copper tailings drainage.

      Conservation gap analysis for the Yellow Sea Ecoregion
      Fangyuan Qu, Shuyun Li, Linlin Zhao, Chungwing Yeung, Mingyang Wan, Lyutong Cai, Zhaohui Zhang
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  385-393.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020443
      Abstract ( 192 )   HTML ( 5 )   PDF (1126KB) ( 187 )   Save
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      Aims: The Yellow Sea Ecoregion is one of 43 marine ecoregions and is considered a global conservation priority as identified by World Wide Fund for Nature. The Yellow Sea Ecoregion comprises 460,000 km2, has a mean water depth of 46 m, and contains abundant biodiversity and biological resources. Due to intensified anthropogenic activities and global climate change, the Yellow Sea Ecoregion is facing severe transboundary threats, which have had strong negative impacts on important habitats and key species of the region. To address this issue, the World Wide Fund for Nature organized Chinese, Japanese, and Korean scientists to prepare an assessment report on the status of biodiversity in the Yellow Sea Ecoregion, in which 23 potential priority areas were identified to promote conservation of the region. Until 2019, China had established 152 marine protected areas covering an area of 80,400 km2 in the Yellow Sea Ecoregion, which aim to protect marine ecosystems and biodiversity. However, several issues with China’s management and construction of the marine protected areas, such as a lack of top-level design, limited management capacity, a lack of financial funding, and poorly balanced spatial development, leave many conservation gaps to be filled to ensure protected areas operate effectively. Therefore, it is of vital importance to improve the designation, management and development of marine protected areas within the Yellow Sea Ecoregion.
      Methods: In this paper, the research area was the portion of the Yellow Sea Ecoregion identified by World Wide Fund for Nature under China’s jurisdiction. We used a gap analysis to identify important yet unprotected coastal wetland, key marine species, and marine ecosystems of the Yellow Sea Ecoregion. We first identified the important ecological function zones, areas rich in biodiversity, important habitats, and landscape geological relics and mapped their distribution as potential priority areas. Next, we collected information on the distribution of existing marine protected areas. We then used ArcGIS 10.4 to compare the distributions of our identified potential priority areas with the distributions of existing marine protected areas to identify conservation gaps, and proposed new marine protected areas based on the identified gap patches.
      Results: Based on our analysis, the key conservation gaps of the Yellow Sea Ecoregion were located in the Yellow River estuary; the coastal wetlands in the Liaohe Estuary, Huanghua and Tanggu, the Jiaodong Peninsula, and Jiangsu Province; the Caofeidian seagrass bed; the Zhoushan fishing ground; and the breeding area and migratory route of spotted seal. The Daliao River Estuary and the southern part of Liaohe Estuary wetlands in Yingkou, the Caofeidian seagrass bed, the wetland along the east coast of Huanghua, the Tiaozini wetland, the Yuhe Estuary, and the Weihe Estuary wetland were the relatively larger gap patches. Spotted seal (Phoca largha), Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Eurynorhynchus pygmeus), East Asian Finless Porpoise (Neophocaena asiaeorientalis sunameri) and Common Minke Whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) were key species of concern.
      Conclusions: Our results suggest that new marine protected areas for Spotted Seal and Spoon-billed Sandpiper be established near Dalian along Jiangsu coast. At the same time, a lack of accurate distribution data hinders understanding the protection needs of East Asian Finless Porpoises and Common Minke Whales. To enhance our understanding of their distributions, further research and surveys of East Asian Finless Porpoises and Common Minke Whales are needed to inform the establishment of suitable protected areas and bolster the effectiveness of the marine protected network. We recommend that strengthening the scientific designation and management of marine protected areas, actively integrating resources from all sectors of society to conduct research and assessment, guaranteeing funding sources, promoting sustainable development of marine ecological industry, enhancing capacity building and the degree of stakeholder participation, and applying more creative cooperation approaches are fundamental to ensuring the success of future designation, management, and development of marine protected areas in the Yellow Sea Ecoregion.

      Endangered mechanisms for the first-class protected Wild Plants with Extremely Small Populations in China
      Zhi Yao, Jun Guo, Chenzhong Jin, Yongbo Liu
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  394-408.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020316
      Abstract ( 163 )   HTML ( 10 )   PDF (6267KB) ( 115 )   Save
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      Aims: It is important to clearly identify the mechanisms that leads Wild Plants with Extremely Small Populations to become endangered as a way to effectively protect these WPESP.
      Progresses: Here, we review the population characteristics, internal causes, and external threat factors for the first-class protected WPESP (28 species in China) and accordingly discuss the mechanisms leading to plants becoming endangered. Most WPESP displayed at least one of four population characteristics that likely resulted in their current endangered status. First, 20 WPESP species (such as Parakmeria omeiensis, Abies beshanzuensisand Cycas changjiangensis) had a narrow distribution area. Combining a narrow distribution area with low fertility and weak competitive capacity as intrinsic factors results in WPESP species to become endangered. Second, the distribution structure for 11 WPESP species was aggregated (e.g., Abies ziyuanensis, Kmeria septentrionalis, Metasequoia glyptostroboides). Third, there was declining population structures for 11 WPESP (e.g.,Thuja sutchuenensis,Metasequoia glyptostroboides, Pinus squamaia). This declining population structure has a negative role in maintaining stable population growth. The fourth population characteristic was that the genetic diversity of 13 WPESP species (46%) was low (e.g., Manglietia decidua, Abies yuanbaoshanensis, Cycas debaoensis). Low genetic diversity is unfavorable for these species to adapt to a changing environment and leads them to face risks of extinction. Twenty-one WPESP species (75%) exhibited low fertility, such as Acer yangjuechi and Abies beshanzuensis. The poor seed quality and low yield of WPESP species leads to a difficult regeneration of populations. The competitive capacity of 57% WPESP species (16) is relatively weak (e.g., Shaniodendron subaequaleandCathaya argyrophylla), which decreases growth and reproduction for these species. External factors that threaten WPESP mainly include overexploitation decreasing abundance (15 species), human activities and natural disasters destroying habitats (25 species), and geological movements plus climate change affecting the survival of WPESP.
      Prospects: In addition to protecting WPESP against destruction from human activities, conservation strategies should focus on the maintenance of population size and the conservation of genetic diversity of WPESP.

      Path-dependent speciation in the process of evolution
      Minlan Li, Chao Wang, Ruiwu Wang
      Biodiv Sci. 2021, 29 (3):  409-418.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020276
      Abstract ( 156 )   HTML ( 11 )   PDF (1305KB) ( 146 )   Supplementary Material   Save
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      Aim: Almost all the research in biology relies on a species concept as the basis for biodiversity. However, all of the existing species definitions are imprinted with artificial factors or difficult to observe in practical applications, which brings negative impacts on the species classification. Here, we introduce an “evolutionary path” using a path integral to provide a rule for species classification. We aim to show the speciation process and define the species concept with a mathematical form.
      Methods: In this species definition, we assumed that uncertain environmental changes and random drift in the population might simultaneously lead to a change in the fitness expectation. Therefore, a constant fitness expectation for any biological characteristic might not be reliable when considering how characteristics vary through time and space. We introduce the concept of “evolutionary path” which is formed by repeating a short-time transfer process. In this process, a species evolves to different states at different probabilities over time based on the instantaneous fitness landscape at any current moment. In this framework, evolution moves in the direction of increased fitness on the varying fitness landscape, and speciation will be of path dependence on the varying fitness landscape. Different individuals with the same or different biological characteristics (e.g. phenotype, genotype, etc.) will interact with another one at random, similar to the process of gambling among them. In a simulation, under the framework of evolutionary game theory, species differentiation will be similar to the evolution of the peaks on a mountain. Every peak after differentiation may represent a species, a cryptic species, or a sympatric species. The picture of species peaks within a mountain is determined by the relationship between the distance and the width of two adjacent peaks and by the dimensionality that characteristics differentiation satisfied.
      Results: We found a more practicable concept to define species, i.e, based on statistical analysis applicable for multiple types of traits like genetics, morphological characteristics, or ecological process between two populations. Once the respective discontinuities of two or more dimensional variables between populations are all greater than the difference of variables within the population, the individuals with corresponding variables belong to different species.
      Conclusions: The path-dependent evolutionary mechanism in this model demonstrated that species can coexist with different probabilities when environmental pressures are limited. A new species, cryptic species, sympatric species may occur in a path-dependent evolution process. This model also showed that species survival in an ecosystem is not determined by its fitness directly, but dependent on the probability of its evolutionary path.

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