• Original Papers: Plant Diversity

      Habitat association and community classification of woody plants in the 20 ha forest dynamics plot of subtropical semi-humid evergreen broad-leaved forest in the Jizu Mountains, Yunnan

      Churan Zhang, Shengfa Li, Fengchang Li, Zhizhong Tang, Huiyan Liu, Lihong Wang, Rong Gu, Yun Deng, Zhiming Zhang, Luxiang Lin
      Biodiv Sci. 2024, 32 (1):  23393.  doi:10.17520/biods.2023393
      Abstract ( 269 )   PDF (1395KB) ( 248 )   Save
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      Aims: In western China, the subtropical semi-humid evergreen broad-leaved forest in Dali is one of zonal vegetation areas, with the largest continuous distribution in the Jizu Mountains. This study surveys the species composition, habitat association, and community types within a 20 ha forest dynamics plot, in order to lay a scientific foundation for the study of community assembly mechanisms and species coexistence within a subtropical semi-humid evergreen broad-leaved forests, and to provide a theoretical basis for biodiversity conservation in this kind of vegetational zone.  

      Methods: In 2021–2022, applying the protocol set forth by CTFS-ForestGEO, we established a 20 ha subtropical semi-humid evergreen broad-leaved forest dynamics plot in the Yujin’an State-owned Forest Farm in Dali, Yunnan Province. In this plot, all free-standing woody plants with DBH ≥ 1 cm were tagged, measured, and identified at the species level. Using the collected data, we analyzed floristic composition, community classification via a multivariate regression tree, and habitat association based on the spatial point pattern method.

      Results: In the allotted zone, there were 43,424 individuals with DBH ≥ 1 cm, spanning 31 families with 57 genera and specific 92 species. The areal-type of families were predominantly tropical, which accounted for 67.7% of families; the areal-type of genera were predominantly temperate, which accounted for 50.9% of genera; and the areal-type of species were predominantly endemic (to China), which accounted for 42.4% of species. Among 52 targeted species, 44 had significant positive associations with at least one habitat and 35 had significant negative associations with at least one habitat. The habitat type with the largest amount of species significantly associated was low-altitude valleys. Within the dynamics monitoring plot, the community type was mainly affected by convexity and altitude, and could be divided into three associations: (1) Ligustrum delavayanum+Camellia yunnanensisLithocarpus dealbatus+Schima argentea Association; (2) Lyonia ovalifolia+Pieris formosaSchima argentea+Lithocarpus dealbatus Association; (3) Craibiodendron yunnanense+Vaccinium duclouxiiLithocarpus dealbatus+Schima argentea Association.

      Conclusion: Semi-humid evergreen broad-leaved forest is the representative vegetation of the plot, which is the horizontal zonal vegetation within the subtropical zone in western China. The vast majority of species in the plot have significant association with habitat, which suggests that habitat filtering plays an important role in the distribution of woody plants in this area. Topography dominates the classification of community types.

      Effects of woody plant mycorrhizal types on understory herb diversity in temperate forests at different successional stages in Changbai Mountains
      Zheng Yin, Naili Zhang, Chunyu Zhang, Xiuhai Zhao
      Biodiv Sci. 2024, 32 (1):  23337.  doi:10.17520/biods.2023337
      Abstract ( 51 )   PDF (799KB) ( 39 )   Save
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      Aims:Herbaceous plants are an important part of plant diversity in temperate forests and play a critical role in regulating ecosystem functioning. However, the diversity patterns of understory herbaceous plants and their contributions to ecosystem functioning have long been neglected. Therefore here, we aimed to determine herbaceous plant diversity in temperate forests at different successional stages and tease apart the relative importance of woody plant mycorrhizal types and environmental variables in regulating the diversity of herbaceous plants.  

      Methods: Based on continuous two-years survey data from 128 herbaceous plant quadrats (1 m × 1 m) in temperate forests at two different successional stages (i.e., the secondary conifer and broad-leaved mixed forests (CBF) and the broad-leaved Korean pine forests (BKF)) in Changbai Mountains, we estimated the differences in diversity of herbaceous plant community, arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) and non-mycorrhizal (NM) herbaceous plants in two forests. We also assessed the effects of arbuscular mycorrhizal and ectomycorrhizal (EcM) woody plants and environmental variables on the diversity of herbaceous plants using generalized linear mixed-effects model.

      Results: Our results showed that the abundance and diversity of herbaceous plants at the community level and AM herbaceous plants were significantly higher in the BKF than those in the CBF, while there was no difference of NM herbaceous plants between the two sites. The abundance and diversity of herbaceous plants were significantly influenced by woody plant neighbors, but the effects of woody plant neighbors were dependent on environmental variables. In the CBF, the diversity of herbaceous plant at the community level and AM herbaceous plants were directly affected by the diversity of woody plant neighbors and leaf area index. The abundance of AM herbaceous plants was negatively correlated with density of EcM woody plant neighbors, but the negative effect of EcM woody plant neighbors reduced with increasing in soil moisture. In the BKF, soil moisture directly influenced the abundance of herbaceous plants at the community level and AM herbaceous plants, and the impacts of woody plant neighbors on the abundance and diversity of herbaceous plants was also dependent on soil moisture.

      Conclusion: Overall, our findings indicate that forest disturbance could significantly decrease the abundance and diversity of understory herbaceous plants in temperate forest ecosystems, and provide insight into how the mycorrhizal types of overstory woody plant neighbors and environmental variables interactively modulate the community assembly of understory herbaceous plants.

      No significant differences found in chemical traits of pollen and nectar located in different positions across Aconitum piepunense racemes
      Xiaoqin Lü, Yang Li, Shunyu Wang, Renxiu Yao, Xiaoyue Wang
      Biodiv Sci. 2024, 32 (1):  23371.  doi:10.17520/biods.2023371
      Abstract ( 126 )   PDF (1387KB) ( 145 )   Supplementary Material   Save
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      Aims:Floral resource allocation often varies across developmental time and across locations in inflorescences. The chemical profile of a plant plays an important role in its growth, development, and interaction with its environment; however, it remains unclear whether such chemical traits vary among floral positions in a single plant. We aim to investigate the variation in chemical profiles of floral reward (pollen and nectar) at different positions of a single plant’s inflorescences.

      Methods: Flowers in racemes of Aconitum piepunense (aconite) were categorized into three positions (basal, middle and distal). In each of the three positions, we observed pollinator foraging behaviors and measured nectar volume and sugar concentration. We then measured and analyzed the types and relative contents of chemical compounds within the pollen and nectar of flowers at each of the three positions.

      Results: The two major pollinators (Bombus friseanus and B. religiosus) typically visited flowers from basal to distal in a sequential order in A. piepunense. Neither the bumblebee visit frequency nor the duration per flower significantly differed among the three positions. Flowers at the bottom of each position secreted more nectar by volume than the middle and upper flowers, but this volume was not significantly different in terms of the nectar sugar concentration across positions. We also found that the relative contents and types of secondary metabolites within the pollen and nectar were both significantly higher than those of primary metabolites. Further, the relative contents and classes of secondary metabolites were significantly higher in pollen than in nectar. Finally, we observed that the relative content and classes of most chemical profiles within pollen or nectar did not significantly differ at basal, middle, or distal flower positions.

      Conclusion: Our results indicate that in the raceme of bumblebee-pollinated A. piepunense, floral positioning within a single plant has no clear impact on the chemical profiles of its pollen and nectar.

      Comparative floral nectar attributes in four Swertia species (Gentianaceae)
      Shijia Wen, Minxue Deng, Ding Wu, Zhiyong Wang, Zongxin Ren
      Biodiv Sci. 2024, 32 (1):  23297.  doi:10.17520/biods.2023297
      Abstract ( 131 )   PDF (1565KB) ( 126 )   Save
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      Aims: Floral nectar secretions at interspecific and intraspecific levels, as well as the variation among different flowers within a plant, influence pollinator attraction. By impacting pollinator visitation patterns, these factors consequently influence pollination effectiveness and plant reproductive success. However, our understanding of the variability in floral nectar production is limited by a lack of quantitative measurements.

      Methods: In this study, we selected four sympatric species within the genus Swertia (Gentianaceae), Swertia bimaculata, S. cincta, S. kouitchensis and S. punicea, to study variations in floral nectar attributes. We compared volume, sugar concentration and sugar content (weight) for flowers under two treatments: (1) flowers bagged for 24 hours and (2) freshly opened flowers in natural field conditions. We examined differences among neighboring flowers to test floral nectar variations the impacts of different treatments on flowers across and within individual plants.

      Results: We found that floral nectar attributes were significantly different among the studied species. Except for sugar concentration in S. bimaculata and S. kouitchensis, all nectar attributes differed between treatments. Sugar concentration was similar between neighboring flowers under the two treatments for S. cincta and S. punicea. In contrast, nectar volume and sugar content showed significant difference between neighboring flowers. Furthermore, correlations for the three attributes were more commonly detected in 24 h bagged flowers than in flowers under natural conditions, suggesting a high variation of floral nectar for flowers in the field.

      Conclusion: Our results indicate high variability in floral nectar within the Swertia species. Interspecific difference of floral nectar may relate to pollinator spectrum differentiation. Similarity of sugar concentration within neighboring flowers may be a result of stabilization mechanisms maintained by nectar volume and sugar content. The higher variation in floral nectar under natural conditions potentially drive floral visitors to select different plant individuals.

      Original Papers: Animal Diversity
      Species richness patterns of mammals and birds and their drivers in the Nanling Mountain Range
      Liyuan Wang, Huijian Hu, Jie Jiang, Yiming Hu
      Biodiv Sci. 2024, 32 (1):  23026.  doi:10.17520/biods.2023026
      Abstract ( 249 )   PDF (1228KB) ( 210 )   Save
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      Aims: The Nanling Mountains are a prominent mountain range serving as a natural geographical boundary in southern China and are recognized as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. However, past studies on species richness in the Nanling Mountains have primarily focused on specific taxa and at localized scales. This has led to a dearth of research concerning the comprehensive spatial patterns of fauna across the entire Nanling region. The objective of this study is to identify the large-scale patterns and drivers of mammalian and avian species richness and offer insights to support the conservation of Nanling’s biodiversity.  

      Methods: Using geographical data for 123 mammal species and 524 bird species, we investigated the distribution of species richness within the Nanling Mountains. Additionally, we employed path analysis (PA) and spatial error models to disentangle the impacts of various predictors (climate, productivity, human activity footprint, habitat heterogeneity, and elevation) on species richness.

      Results: The hotspot of mammal species richness was in the southwestern part of the Nanling region, with a decline in richness observed from west to east. Avian species richness was highest in the southeast of Nanling, gradually decreasing from southeast to northwest. The path analysis and spatial error models demonstrated that temperature-related factors exerted the most significant influence on the spatial distribution patterns of species richness for both mammalian and avian species. Two temperature-related factors had contrasting effects on species richness. The average annual temperature had a negative impact on mammals but a positive impact on birds; however, the annual range of temperature had a positive impact on mammals but a negative impact on birds.

      Conclusions: Our findings highlight the contrasting spatial distribution patterns of mammalian and avian species richness in the Nanling Mountains. The differential impact of average annual temperature and the annual range of temperature on birds and mammals may arise from physiological adaptability and behavioral strategies.

      Perceived birdsong diversity and restorativeness effect of soundscape: Interventions of birdsong audio and messaging
      Yuqi Liu, Jinglan Liu, Xiaoli Fan, Yishen Hu, Hongxiao Guo, Fan Xue
      Biodiv Sci. 2024, 32 (1):  23230.  doi:10.17520/biods.2023230
      Abstract ( 141 )   PDF (747KB) ( 116 )   Save
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      Aims: The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of birdsongs on the perception of natural soundscapes and the potential for soundscape restorativeness, and to provide reference for the public to achieve higher levels of restoration from nature.

      Methods: In July and August 2021, we conducted a research in Beijing Xishan National Forest Park, where extra songs of ten bird species were played through speakers to enhance the diversity of bird songs in the environment. Educational signages were also installed to provide information about local bird species and their songs. A survey was conducted with 744 visitors to measure their perception of soundscape restorativeness and the level of bird song diversity.

      Results: Visitors in the environment with a greater diversity of bird songs achieved higher level of soundscape restorativeness. Visitors who received educational information about bird songs reported a higher level of perceived bird song diversity. However, there was no correlation between visitors’ perceived bird song diversity and the actual diversity of bird songs in the environment.

      Conclusion: The results indicate a positive correlation between the diversity of bird songs in the environment and the perceived soundscape restorativeness. Increased bird song diversity can enhance visitors’ experiences and benefits in natural environments. The presence of information boards can promote visitors' attention to the soundscape and increase their perception of the diversity of bird songs.

      Effects of heterogeneous habitat on soil nematode community characteristics in the Songnen Plain
      Shuhan Yang, Yining Wu, He Wang, Lei Chen, Yingfei Liao, Guang Yan, Hongfei Zou
      Biodiv Sci. 2024, 32 (1):  23295.  doi:10.17520/biods.2023295
      Abstract ( 70 )   PDF (1379KB) ( 86 )   Save
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      Aims: Wetlands, as one of the three major ecosystem types globally, play a crucial role in buffering global climate change. Habitat heterogeneity is a dominant factor in the succession of plant communities and significantly influences the structure and composition of soil biological communities, thereby directly or indirectly enhancing the diversity of soil food webs.

      Methods: To investigate the impact of wetland habitat heterogeneity on the structure and function of soil nematode communities in the Songnen Plain, this study focused on five heterogeneous habitats in the region. These habitats were selected based on a preliminary investigation of plant community characteristics. In July 2022, soil nematode communities, vegetation, and soil environmental factors were surveyed within these habitats. Soil samples were collected using a five-point method and nematodes were extracted using an improved shallow dish separation-sucrose centrifugation technique, followed by morphological identification. The soil nematode community structure and diversity were analyzed based on species composition, individual density, diversity indices, and functional indices. Redundancy analysis and correlation analysis were employed to explore the relationship between nematode communities and soil physicochemical properties as well as vegetation characteristics.

      Results: Our findings indicate the following: (1) The soil nematodes in the study area are predominantly omnivores-predators and plant-parasites. The habitat of Leymus chinensis exhibits the highest number of soil nematode individuals, Shannon-Wiener diversity index (H'), and Margalef index (species richness, SR). The functional footprint of nematodes in the sample plot follows this order: Leymus chinensis > Carex schmidtii > Deyeuxia angustifolia > Puccinellia tenuiflora > alkali habitat. (2) The channel index of soil nematodes in the Deyeuxia angustifolia habitat is significantly lower compared to other habitats. Fungal channels dominate the soil decomposition process in this habitat while bacterial channels dominate in others. (3) The ANOSIM test results demonstrate that habitat heterogeneity significantly influence the composition of four nutrient groups and the overall nematode community. Pearson correlation and redundancy analysis reveal that total phosphorus, soil moisture content, soil pH, and the importance value of hygrophytes in vegetation are the primary environmental factors affecting the structure and composition of soil nematode communities.

      Conclusions: Our research findings demonstrate that the habitat heterogeneity of the Songnen Plain has a significant impact on the community characteristics of soil nematodes. Specifically, the Leymus chinensis habitat stands out with the highest number of individuals, diversity, and richness of soil nematodes. Additionally, the stability of the Carex schmidtii plot is expected to play a crucial role in enhancing the restoration and natural improvement of wetlands due to its stable food web. These findings contribute to a deeper understanding of the processes and functions of the underground ecosystem in the wetlands of the Songnen Plain highlighting the rich soil biodiversity of this region.

      Effect of shrub encroachment on insect herbivory of Polygonum macrophyllum in alpine meadow of Qinghai-Xizang Plateau
      Xiaodan Tan, Peng Zhang, Sirui Zhu, Xiang Liu, Shurong Zhou, Mu Liu
      Biodiv Sci. 2024, 32 (1):  23417.  doi:10.17520/biods.2023417
      Abstract ( 39 )   PDF (1585KB) ( 17 )   Save
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      Aims: Shrub encroachment is ubiquitous in the alpine meadows of Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, caused by global warming, increased carbon dioxide concentration, overgrazing, and human activities. Shrub encroachment has both positive and negative effects on grassland ecosystems, and the direction and intensity of these effects depend on environmental factors. Although the effect of shrub encroachment on grassland ecosystem has been demonstrated in many studies, the pattern and mechanism of these effects on insect herbivory are still unclear. In this study, Polygonum macrophyllum, a common species in alpine meadows on the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, was used to explore the effect of shrub encroachment on insect herbivory of and how the effect changed with climatic and soil factors by comparing the insect herbivory of P. macrophyllum under different Potentilla fruticosa coverages. 

      Methods: In this study, ten blocks were selected from four sampling sites in the eastern part of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau alpine meadow, and three 0.5 m × 0.5 m quadrats with 0, 50%, 100% P. fruticosa coverage were selected in each block by visual inspection. Soil samples were collected in four additional quadrats near the quadrat of each sample. In addition, we obtained the annual mean temperature, average annual precipitation, and altitude data for each sampling site.

      Results: (1) The insect herbivory of P. macrophyllum increased with the increase of shrub coverage. (2) The effect of shrub encroachment on the insect herbivory of P. macrophyllum was more significant in regions with low mean annual temperature, soil available phosphorus content and high soil carbon and nitrogen content.

      Conclusion: This study revealed the effect of shrub encroachment on insect herbivory of P. macrophyllum in the alpine meadow ecosystem on the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau, and further found that this effect was environmentally dependent. This conclusion provides evidence for exploring the effect of shrub encroachment on insect herbivory, and has important practical significance for scientific management of shrub-encroached grasslands on the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau.

      Original Papers:Biosecurity and Nature Conservation
      Analysis of factors influencing farmers’ protection willingness based on structural equation model: Taking the Hunchun area of Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park as an example
      Yuchen Du, Beimeng Liu, Junfeng Chen, Hao Wang, Yi Xie
      Biodiv Sci. 2024, 32 (1):  23155.  doi:10.17520/biods.2023155
      Abstract ( 102 )   PDF (913KB) ( 95 )   Save
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      Aims: The significance of community farmer involvement in biodiversity conservation practices in China originated from the community co-management initiatives that began in the late 20th century. Given the pivotal role of national parks in biodiversity conservation, the selection of national parks and their adjacent communities as focal research areas to analyze farmers’ willingness to engage is not only pertinent to the establishment and growth of national parks, but also crucial in forming public participation mechanisms for biodiversity conservation. This study aims to examine the disposition of farmers in the surrounding communities of national parks to participate in ecological conservation and investigate the factors influencing their willingness to engage, which will aid in discovering effective methods to motivate farmers for active involvement in conservation efforts.

      Methods: This study utilized exploratory structural equation modeling to examine the factors influencing residents’ participation in conservation in communities surrounding the Northeast Tiger and Leopard National Park. A total of 534 valid questionnaires were obtained through one-on-one interviews with residents in the Hunchun area of the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park between July and August 2022. A structural equation model was employed to explore the determinants of local farmers’ willingness to participate in conservation efforts. The willingness of households to engage in conservation serves as the dependent variable, with individual attitudes, norms, and perceived behavioral control as independent variables. The scale’s reliability and validity were assessed using Cronbach’s alpha coefficient and KMO (Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin) value tests, while the questionnaire structure was analyzed through exploratory factor analysis. Additionally, the measurement model’s soundness was confirmed via confirmatory factor analysis. Subsequently, the overall structural equation model was constructed, and model fit, and hypothesis testing were performed.

      Results: (1) Farmers’ positive attitudes toward protection significantly influenced their willingness to engage. Elevated assessments in value, experience, and outcome by farmers correspond to higher willingness to participate in conservation efforts. (2) The individual norms among farmers exerted a significant positive impact on their inclination to protect, being the most influential factor among the three. Specifically, value and outcome evaluations hold more sway over farmers’ willingness to participate in conservation, while empirical evaluation holds relatively less influence. (3) Perceived behavioral control notably impacted farmers’ willingness to protect positively. A lower perceived difficulty in terms of time investment, economic investment, and professional skills investment directly correlates with a stronger willingness among farmers to participate in conservation efforts. (4) Age significantly and positively impacted farmers’ inclination to protect.

      Conclusion: It is suggested to enhance farmers’ willingness to protect by strengthening the policy guidance function, encouraging long-term training activities, and expanding farmers’ protection participation channels.

      Research on natural education demand of Giant Panda National Park based on Kano model

      Yun Geng, Yiyi Kou, Xinzhuo Fan, Shuyao Xu, Li Cong, Yujun Zhang
      Biodiv Sci. 2024, 32 (1):  23101.  doi:10.17520/biods.2023101
      Abstract ( 74 )   PDF (915KB) ( 43 )   Save
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      Aims: The national parks play a very important role in protecting giant pandas and promoting the harmonious coexistence between human beings and nature. However, the characteristics and customer satisfaction associated with the national parks’ natural education have not been studied.  

      Methods: The Kano model theory was utilized to study the Giant Panda National Park’s natural education characteristics and customer satisfaction using questionnaires distributed online and offline. We collected 593 questionnaires. From the questionnaires, the characteristics of the youths’ demand for natural education in the National Park were identified, empirically analyzed, and prioritized. A customer satisfaction coefficient was introduced to analyze and understand the impact of how the natural education functional characteristics were associated with the residents’ satisfaction with the Giant Panda National Park.

      Results: The research results showed the youths’ demand for natural education in the Giant Panda National Park was divided into four functional characteristic categories: knowledge acquisition, consciousness change or influence, skill improvement, and behavior (intention) change. Skill improvement and behavioral awareness change were expected functional characteristics. The more satisfied they were, the higher their visitor satisfaction was. Knowledge acquisition was a delightful functional characteristic that surprised to the young tourists and brought satisfaction. Consciousness change and influence was an undifferentiated functional characteristic and had little impact on residents’ satisfaction.

      Conclusion: Finally, we found skill improvement and behavioral awareness were expected and the most important of the four natural education functional characteristics. Increase the emphasis on environmental commentary and knowledge education in the Giant Panda National Park. Emphasize the visitor environmental protection skills enhancement function of Giant Panda National Park education and carry out skill training activities. etc.

      Review of pollen color diversity in Angiosperms
      Feifei Zhang, Tianfeng Yang, Lirong Chen, Dongmei Liu, Liuyuan Yang, Duyu Yang, Peng Ju, Lu Lu
      Biodiv Sci. 2024, 32 (1):  23346.  doi:10.17520/biods.2023346
      Abstract ( 283 )   PDF (1320KB) ( 237 )   Supplementary Material   Save
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      Background & Aim: Pollen grain is an important component for carrying and spreading plant genetic information. It contains the key code of angiosperm biodiversity, which can provide a micromorphological view for exploring “Darwin's abominable mystery." Pollen morphology is hereditary and highly diverse in angiosperms and has been used to study plant classification, evolution, ecology, biogeography and so on. However, current studies mainly focus on pollen shape, size, aperture, surface ornamentation, and microspore formation and development, and ignore pollen color. We intend to review the research on pollen color in angiosperms and suggest further studies.  

      Progress: Previous studies have outlined the chemical and genetic bases of pollen color, including biological factors (pollinator preference, visual crypsis, dimorphic selection, etc.) and abiotic factors (ultraviolet, temperature, humidity, latitude and longitude, etc.). Researchers have also introduced the practical applications for the understanding pollen color in apiology, plant tissue culture techniques, food science, horticulture and other related fields. We summarized the pollen color data reported in the last hundred years, which contains 47 families and 69 genera of angiosperms. We inferred the evolutionary patterns of pollen color using the Fitch parsimony method.

      Prospects: In view of the recent advances in material science, spectroscopy, artificial intelligence (AI), evolutionary ecology and multiomics, we provide some thoughts and suggestions for future studies on the physical structure, systematic evolution and molecular mechanisms behind pollen color.

      Comparisons between non-native species invasion and native species range expansion
      Lixia Han, Yongjian Wang, Xuan Liu
      Biodiv Sci. 2024, 32 (1):  23396.  doi:10.17520/biods.2023396
      Abstract ( 193 )   PDF (963KB) ( 171 )   Save
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      Background & Aim: In response to the rapid global change, a growing number of species have been undergoing range shifts, which includes two main processes: one is the non-native species invasion mediated by human activities, and the other is the natural range expansion of native species. There are both similarities and differences between these two processes. It is thus critically important to distinguish their similarities and differences to develop scientific strategies for invasive species prevention and native species conservation.  

      Progresses: By comparing the non-native species invasion and native species range expansion, we found that both non-native species invasion and native species range expansion are increasing under global change. However, there are obvious differences in potential drivers, spatial-temporal scales, occurring rates, species traits predicting the process, and impacts in new ranges between the two processes. The non-native species invasion usually occurs across long distance with the aid of human activity, spreads rapidly after establishment, high predictive ability of species traits, and poses a serious threat to local biodiversity. By contrast, range expansion of native species usually occurs at smaller spatial scales, occurring rates more slower, low predictive ability of species traits, and generally has less impact on new regions.

      Prospects: As it is difficult to accurately determine the potential impacts of new-arrival species on recipient habitats, long-term monitoring and studies assessing the biological and ecological effects of these two processes on local population dynamics, community structure, and ecosystem function are needed, which is important to develop schemes of non-native species mitigation and native biodiversity conservation.

      Research progress of diet composition and its research methods for Père David’s deer
      Haolin Wang, Huaisheng Zhang, Jianqiang Zhu, Zhongyi Chen, Yulin Ke, Tao Yang, Hui Chen
      Biodiv Sci. 2024, 32 (1):  23057.  doi:10.17520/biods.2023057
      Abstract ( 126 )   PDF (831KB) ( 114 )   Save
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      Background & Aim: Milu (Père David’s deer, Elaphurus davidianus) is a national key protected wild animal. Since its reintroduction in 1980, research on the diet composition of Milu has been a focus of researchers. We summarized the main feeding plants of Milu in the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center, the Dafeng Milu National Nature Reserve, and the Shishou Milu National Nature Reserve. And we reviewed the common research methods of diet composition for animal including direct observation, utilization method, stomach content analysis, fecal microanalysis, stomach content or fecal DNA analysis and stable isotope technology and compared in terms of temporal scale, diet resolution, diet from the consumed stage, major strengths and major limitations. And, we analyzed the effects of ecological factors such as self-factors, plant nutrients and availability, and human activities on the diet composition of Milu. The analysis of the diet composition of Milu and common diet composition research methods aims to clarify the current progress of Milu diet composition research for promoting ex-situ conservation and natural return of Milu.

      Review results: The main food source of Milu is plants. The food selection of Milu is influenced not only by self-factors, but also by the nutrient content and availability of feeding plants and anthropogenic factor. Physiological variation and alteration of energy requirements due to self-factors can influence the diet composition of the deer. Plant nutrients including crude protein, soluble sugars, and fiber are important factors influencing diet composition. Plant availability and anthropogenic factors further influence diet composition by changing food diversity and abundance. The comparative analysis of common diet composition research methods shows that different methods reflect different time scales and food resolutions in resolving diet composition, and there are corresponding advantages and limitations in the face of large endangered ungulates such as Milu.

      Perspectives: We recommend that researchers should clarify the purpose and target population of the study. On this basis, researchers should reasonably assess the strengths and limitations of the available research methods, select appropriate sampling and data analysis methods to establish a reasonable diet composition research program. In future studies on the food composition of Milu, should focus on integrating the results of related studies on Milu, using a combination of methods to analyze diet composition, and comprehensively analyzing the food selection mechanism of Milu. This will not only guide the response of Milu to habitat fragmentation, wetland degradation and anthropogenic disturbance during reintroduction, but also further promote the development of Père David’s population and long-term conservation efforts.
      Species diversity, ecological characteristics and conservation measures of seahorses (Hippocampus) in China’s waters
      Cailian Liu, Xiong Zhang, Enyuan Fan, Songlin Wang, Yan Jiang, Bai'an Lin, Lu Fang, Yuqiang Li, Lebin Liu, Min Liu
      Biodiv Sci. 2024, 32 (1):  23282.  doi:10.17520/biods.2023282
      Abstract ( 355 )   PDF (1062KB) ( 215 )   Save
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      Background & Aims: Seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) are well-known fishes from the family Syngnathidae, mainly due to their unique external morphology and reproductive strategy of male pregnancy. All Hippocampus species, listed in CITES Appendix II in 2002, are under trade regulations internationally. All Hippocampus species (wild populations only) inhabiting in China’s waters were listed as Category II of the National Key Protected Wild Animals in 2021. Through literature review, we (i) updated the species list of seahorses occurring in China’s waters, (ii) summarized their distribution regions, habitat and breeding features, and (iii) presented their threatened categories and threats. Our goal is to inform effective conservation measures for seahorse wild populations in China.  

      Review findings: In this paper, we reviewed and summarized seahorse species diversity, distributions, habitat uses, reproductive features, threatened categories, and threat factors from various reference sources, including online databases (Fishbase, The Fish Database of Taiwan, GBIF, WoRMS, IUCN), peer-reviewed papers, reports, theses, as well as informative Chinese ichthyographies. A total of 16 seahorse species were recorded in China’s waters, including 5 pygmy seahorses that are no more than 30 mm in body height. Among these, Japanese seahorses (H. mohnikei) were distributed most widely, across China’s all four seas. Crowned seahorses (H. coronatus) were only found in the Bo Hai, while Barbour’s seahorses (H. barbouri), Beibu Bay seahorses (H. casscsio, a new species found in 2016), and Tiger tail seahorses (H. comes) were only found in the South China Sea. Six species were only found in the coastal waters of Taiwan Province. Southern China, including Taiwan, Hainan, Guangdong, Fujian, and Guangxi, has high seahorse species diversity. The habitat uses of seahorses in China’s waters are very diverse, including coral and rocky reefs, seagrass and seaweed beds, muddy and sandy bottoms, gravels, and mangrove meadows. Some species have special requirements for their habitats. According to IUCN, 8 seahorse species were listed as Vulnerable (VU), 2 species were listed as Least Concern (LC), 5 species were listed as Data Deficient (DD), and 1 species was Not Evaluated (NE). The main threats to seahorses are bycatch and habitat destruction.

      Recommendations: Seahorses are a special taxonomic group of fishes with high vulnerability, and we propose five recommendations for urgent conservations of seahorses in China. First, the significance of seahorses as flagship species in marine biodiversity conservation should be realized and we need to use them to raise marine-conservation awareness of the general public. Establishing marine protected areas for seahorses and their habitats, and applying other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) might also be taken into account. Second, it is known that non-selective fishing gears such as bottom trawling have high seahorse bycatch volume, and the dredge net operations can damage seaweed beds where seahorses inhabit. Therefore, any solution for reducing bycatch, increasing survival rates of seahorses after releasing, protecting habitats and innovating fishing gears are welcome. Third, identifying the key habitats of different seahorse species in China’s waters is very important for establishing protected areas and fisheries spatial management. Currently, such data are very limited. Some key areas we synthesized in this study require national-wide surveys to validate before planning for marine reserves and OECMs of seahorses in China. Fourth, seahorse trade regulation and enforcement should be strengthened, and the management of seahorse utilization should be regulated properly. To this end, techniques to distinguishing wild populations from farmed seahorses should be established as soon as possible before the expansion of seahorse aquaculture.

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