Biodiv Sci ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (2): 123-135.  DOI: 10.17520/biods.2016120

Special Issue: 青藏高原生物多样性与生态安全

• Review • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The impact of major geological events on Chinese flora

Zhekun Zhou1,2,*(), Jian Huang1,3, Wenna Ding1,3   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303
    2 Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201
    3 University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049
  • Received:2016-05-04 Accepted:2016-10-19 Online:2017-02-20 Published:2017-03-06
  • Contact: Zhou Zhekun


Geological events are one of the critical factors that are responsible for the formation and development of regional flora. Major geological events are discussed in this article with an emphasis on their impacts on dominant elements of evergreen broad-leaved forests, as well as on relict and endemic elements of Chinese flora. Geological events contributing to the complex geological history of China include the Paloecene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), the uplifting of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the formation and development of the monsoon climate, and the shifting of dry areas in China during the Cenozoic Era. As rich geological environments are the basis for forming and developing biodiversity, such biodiversity can be seen in the main elements of subtropical evergreen broad-leaved forests, which have been presented in China since the Neogene, and include Fagaceae, Lauraceae, Magnoliaceae, Fabaceae and Hamamelidaceae. The morphological characteristics of these elements are comparable with modern taxa at the genus level. The monsoon climate in China, especially dry winters and springs, strongly impacts floristic patterns. Relict and endemic plants are concentrated in Central China where winter and spring are comparatively humid. Monsoon intensity and development are correlated with the height of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Key words: geodiversity, biodiversity, endemic, Cenozoic, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, evergreen board-leaved forest