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Table of Content
    Volume 25 Issue 11
    20 November 2017
    The desert in Northwest China is an important eco-geographic region, which covers an area of more than 1.92 million square kilometers. It has a variety of vegetations and flora, forming a unique vegetation landscape. Wang et al (for details see pages 1192–1201 of this issue) analyzed the relationship between plant species richness and environmental factors to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of plant species diversity. The picture shows the Reaumuria songarica desert in Mazongshan, Gansu. (Photographed by Jingwen Li)
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    All Papers in This Issue
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  0-0. 
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    The latest development for implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity
    Dayuan Xue
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  1145-1146.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017310
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    Special Feature: On Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity
    Latest developments in international regimes relevant to access and benefit-sharing of genetic resources
    Fuwei Zhao, Lei Cai, Chunxin Zang
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  1147-1155.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017232
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    The international regimes regarding access and benefit-sharing of genetic resources (ABS) are closely related to multiple topics, including biodiversity, food security, public health, intellectual property, and international trade. Until now, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and World Health Organization (WHO) have developed some of the most effective model regimes separately in accordance with their respective mandates, namely, the Nagoya Protocol, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) and the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework for the Sharing of Influenza Viruses and Access to Vaccines and Other Benefits (PIPF). These multilateral conventions enable parties to fulfill their respective obligations in a coordinated manner. With respect to intellectual property rights (IPRs), the members of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) have managed to produce three drafts regarding aspects of IPRs including conserving genetic resources, traditional knowledge, and folklore. However, negotiation progress has been hindered due to substantial divergence among members over key issues, such as terms of use, subject matter, and scope of protection. With regard to international trade, discussions under the framework of World Trade Organization (WTO) are still stuck on working out the complexities between CBD and the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), where developed members are steadfast in opposing developing countries’ proposals on disclosure of the origin of genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge during the process of patent application. In recent years, although some appeals, which invoke exception clauses for environmental protection, have been sustained by WTO dispute settlement mechanisms, countries providing genetic resources still aren’t yet able to draw readily practical references. There are obviously some legal conflicts among the Nagoya Protocol, WIPO, WTO, and other multilateral systems, and resolving such complexities poses difficulties. In contrast, the bilateral approach within the framework of the regional trade agreement (RTA) proves to be more practical and flexible in terms of integrating ABS rules, and providing parties with more domestic legislative freedom and flexibility, which therefore have ushered in a novel way of thinking for coordinating such dilemmas. Nevertheless, we need to be fully aware of the fact that the “private contract mode” favored by few RTAs would inevitably increase the uncertainties for effectively implementing the Nagoya Protocol to a certain extent.

    Important issues concerning the national legislation of access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing
    Jianyong Wu, Dayuan Xue
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  1156-1160.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017248
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    The Nagoya Protocol (NP) entered into force on 12 October 2014 and was fully implemented thereafter. The effective implementation of the NP at the national level requires strong support through national legislation. In this regard, the Chinese government is drafting regulations on the administration of access to biological genetic resources, which are included in the State Council legislative plan for 2015. To provide recommendations, this study presents a discussion on several aspects that should be concerned and focused on the development of national legislation on access and benefit-sharing (ABS), for instance, the legal status, terms and definitions, access and approval process, follow-up supervision, and monitoring. We further propose views to provide references for establishing national ABS regulation and to ensure effective implementation. These include: (1) National ABS regulation should be combined with current legislation to synergically supervise biological genetic resources and traditional knowledge related to genetic resources, thus to identify the ownership of biological genetic resources and related traditional knowledge, and to distinguish commercial and non-commercial acquisition; (2) Developing items and definitions to clarify concepts and promote the operation of certain legal provisions; (3) Clearing ABS authorities, resources management authorities and the required materials lists for acquisition, as well as forms and content of the acquisition application. In addition, supervising and approving acquisition activities should be completed using categories, thus to encourage scientific research and regulate commercial developments, especially for outbound acquisition activities. In particular, it is necessary to consider specific administration and management regulations; (4) Monitoring follow-up activities from the perspective of both provider states and user states using the certificate of compliance; and (5) Reserving records and documents on access to samples, and setting up checkpoints to monitor and regulate access, utilization, intellectual rights and other aspects.

    A comparative study on national assessment indicators for Aichi Biodiversity Targets and relevant countermeasures
    Rong Dai, Yi Wu
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  1161-1168.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017249
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    The implementation of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (hereinafter referred to as the “Aichi Targets”) is conducive to a significant decrease in the rate of biodiversity loss at global, regional and national levels and addresses sustainable development challenges. Incorporating national indicators set under the framework of the Aichi Targets into a national biodiversity strategy, action plan, and national report are important actions for implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity at the national level. Using the Aichi Targets as the framework, this paper teases out the challenges of its targets and analyzes relationships among these concerns. By comparing each concern and using European Union, Australia, Germany, India, Brazil, South Africa, Japan, and China as study areas, this paper compares and analyzes the indicators and actions relating to concerns of the Aichi Targets, thus identifying and analyzing weak links in China’s existing relevant indicators. The results showed that the concerns without relevant assessment indicators are as follows: public participation (1-2), biodiversity valuation (2-1), mainstreaming biodiversity (2-2), subsidies, harmful to biodiversity are eliminated or reformed (3-1), subsidy policy (3-2), impacts of pollution on biodiversity (8-2), connectivity (11-4), implementation of the Nagoya Protocol (16-1), protection of traditional knowledge (18-1), traditional knowledge owners’ rights and participation (18-2) and foreign official financial resources for development (20-2). The concerns that there are no enough data to be used to assess the indicators are as follows: sustainable consumption (4-2), habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation (5-1), sustainable fisheries (6-2), impacts of agriculture, forestry and fishery on biodiversity (7-2), climate change impacts on coral reefs (10-1) and management effectiveness of protected areas (11-3). By analyzing individual country experiences of relevant indicators and actions as well as issues in China, we provide the following recommendations: (1) To perfect the assessment indicator system in China; (2) To accelerate policy adjustments for those that are not favorable to biodiversity conservation; (3) To carry out quantitative studies on traditional knowledge and benefit-sharing issues; and (4) To carry out scientific activities for citizens that enhance public participation.

    China and COP 15: a path for responsible environmental power
    Yueyu Zou, Yulin Fu, Lirong Yang, Xialin Wan, Ye Wang, Jixin Liu
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  1169-1175.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017246
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    The Fifteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) will be hosted by China in 2020 and could become a milestone in the history of the Convention. This article aims to identify lessons that can be learnt by China in preparation for COP15. The internal motivations and political gains of several host countries with respect to previous COPs were analyzed by looking at national environmental foreign policies against the backdrop of the country’s development and corresponding progress made in convention implementation. This case study of successful COPs indicates that host countries do not treat it as an isolated event but an action under the country’s foreign policy strategy, which provides a strong momentum for the country to contribute to the process. Additionally, by formulating host country initiatives in harmony with existing national and regional policies in the field, the host country was able to optimize marginal effects and gains at both the national and global level. China could also make use the opportunity of hosting COP15 to gradually transform its passive and inward-looking eco-environmental foreign policy into an outward-looking one featuring active engagement and work on eco-civilization along with the international community. In preparation for COP15, China should work together with international stakeholders, reinforce regional strategic coordination and synergism with developing countries, and share Chinese experiences in biodiversity conservation in order to contribute to the creation of a fair, rational, and efficient system of global biodiversity governance.

    Incorporating gender equality into biodiversity conservation
    Haiou Liu, Haijun Chen, Lei Liu, Wei Yan, Dayuan Xue
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  1176-1181.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017236
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    China is rich in biological diversity resources and attaches great importance to gender equality as a country. China plays an important role in the worldwide realm of the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and gender equality. However, gender mainstreaming in biodiversity conservation in China is still in its early stages, and does not match with positive roles promoting biodiversity conservation and gender equality nationally. Therefore, we analyze the special relationship between biodiversity and gender, discuss the generation and evolution of the concept of gender in biodiversity conservation, and summarize the progress of international organizations, multilateral funds and frontrunner nations regarding gender mainstreaming in biodiversity conservation. We put forward suggestions, including strengthening research on gender and biodiversity issues, enhancing capacity-building of related agencies, promoting the introduction of gender and biodiversity issues into policy decision-making, and improving domestic biodiversity project management, all with the aim to provide guidance for follow-up work and a reference for the implementation and negotiation of the Convention on Biological Diversity in China.

    Original Papers: Plant Diversity
    The relationship between species richness and ecosystem multifunctionality in the Pinus yunnanensis natural secondary forest
    Xiaobo Huang, Shuaifeng Li, Jianrong Su, Wande Liu, Xuedong Lang
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  1182-1191.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017167
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    Under global climate change, biodiversity is decreasing rapidly due to deforestation and habitat fragmentation, which has serious consequences for ecosystem functioning. In recent years, the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning has been a core research area in ecology. Previous researchers have paid great attention to the relationship between biodiversity and individual ecosystem functioning, and seldom consider multiple functions (multifunctionlity), especially in forest ecosystems. Here, based on survey data from 94 plots of Pinus yunnanensis in a natural secondary forest, we selected variables related to ecosystem functioning: woody plant biomass, soil organic carbon, plant nitrogen, plant phosphorus, soil total nitrogen, soil hydrolyzable nitrogen, soil total phosphorus, and soil available phosphorus. We used an averaging approach, single threshold approach, and multiple threshold approach to evaluate the effects of species richness on ecosystem multifunctionality and impacting factors. Results showed that the relationship between species richness and ecosystem multifunctionality was stronger than that of individual ecosystem functioning. Species richness had a significant positive effect on multifunctionality within thresholds ranging from 3% to 88%. When using a moderate threshold (54%), species richness had the strongest positive effect, and the percentage of maximum possible species richness was 53.53%. Path analysis of a structural equation model showed that species richness had the strongest (positive) effect on multifunctionality in the Pinus yunnanensis natural secondary forest. Mean annual temperature, mean annual precipitation, and soil pH had insignificant effects on multifunctionality, but indirect effects via influences on species richness. Species richness may be of primary importance when considering ecosystem multifunctionality. Increasing species numbers may not always lead to the optimal state of all functions. Increasing species numbers had the strongest effects on multifunctionality, but only once multifunctionality reached moderate levels.

    Biogeographic patterns and environmental interpretation of plant species richness in desert regions of Northwest China
    Jianming Wang, Wenjuan Wang, Jingwen Li, Yiming Feng, Bo Wu, Qi Lu
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  1192-1201.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017149
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    Desertification poses an important ecological problem in Northwest China as desert ecosystems are highly vulnerable to climatic and land-use changes. Due to the harsh environment and poor accessibility, systematic studies of plant diversity in the desert region of Northwest China remain elusive. Here, we explored the geographic patterns of species richness and determinants in the desert regions of Northwest China based on species richness and spatial and climatic factors of 195 field plots. Results showed that a total of 363 species were recorded, belonging to 38 families and 153 genera. Species richness exhibited significant longitudinal and latitudinal gradients, which were quadratically correlated with longitude and latitude. Species richness was strongly influenced by spatial, water, and energy factors. These factors explained 65.36% of the variation in species richness, while 48.08% was simultaneously explained by the three groups of factors. Furthermore, the water and energy factors together explained more variation than that of spatial factors. These results indicate that the patterns of species richness were determined by niche, neutral, and other unknown processes together, and suggest that environmental factors play an important role. We highlight that unmeasured factors including soil, topography, and human disturbances may greatly affect plant species richness in the desert regions of Northwest China.

    Plant body size patterns of mountainous trees and grassland herbs in Xinjiang region, China
    Liping Li, Anwar Mohammat, Nurbay Abdusalih, Nurjamal Sarbay, Huawei Wan
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  1202-1212.  doi:10.17520/biods.2016336
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    Species body size is an important trait, however, currently the correlations of body size with range size and species richness are still not very clear, especially for plants. With plant distribution and plot investigation data in the Xinjiang region of China, we explored plant body size patterns and tested the relationship between plant body size and range size, both at the species and regional scale. Further, the relationship of plant body size and plant richness was also tested at the regional scale. In this study, tree body size of forests was indicated using the average diameter at breast height (DBH), and the herbaceous plant body size of grasslands was indicated using the average height based on our plot investigation. Regional plant body size was the average value of all measured plants distributed in each grid cell (0.1° × 0.1°). We found that: (1) At the species scale, tree body size was positively correlated with range size characteristics, i.e., trees that spread wider were normally larger in size than those in narrower ranges; herb body size displayed a similar pattern with lower correlation coefficients; (2) At the regional scale, a region with larger average tree body size tended to have lower regional average plant range size and vice versa; the regional herb body size of grasslands did not significantly correlate with the regional average plant range size; (3) At the regional scale, tree body size and herb body size both positively correlated with regional plant richness. We concluded that at the species and regional scale, for different vegetation, the plant body size may have different patterns and correlate differently with range size characteristics.

    Spatial distribution characteristics of crop germplasm resources using spatial statistics
    Yanqing Chen, Yongsheng Cao, Yanpeng Wu, Lina Chen, Wei Fang
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  1213-1222.  doi:10.17520/biods.2016376
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    It is important to understand and analyze the spatial distribution features and models of crop germplasm resources for the comprehensive collection, effective protection, and efficient utilization of these resources. This paper analyzed these characteristics based on spatial statistical principles and methods with ArcGIS software. Firstly, we did a cold and hot spot analysis of germplasm resources at the national scale to determine discrete regions of Chinese germplasm resources from a qualitative aspect. Then, we analyzed the number and center of gravity characteristics of germplasm resources to determine density and homogeneity of germplasm resources in main crop regions. Finally, we analyzed the bearing distribution characteristics of germplasm resources in different planting partitions to determine the scope of resource distribution, angle, and direction. According to results of cold and hot spot analysis, the northern China plain and a part of the loess plateau region belong to accumulation areas of germplasm resources. The central region of Gansu province, the western part of Sichuan and Xinjiang, and the eastern part of Qinghai belong to a discrete area of germplasm resources. In addition to the blank area of germplasm resources, the rest is part of the random distribution area of germplasm resources. According to quality and gravity center analysis results, the Northwest Oasis region mainly grows wheat, cotton, beets, and grapes, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau region mainly grows barley, wheat and rape, the Northern plateau region mainly grows small grains and beets, and the Northeast region mainly grows soybeans, spring wheat and beets. These are all located in the northeast and the west of China, and their germplasm resources’ densities are low and uniformities are uneven, which means a small amount of the germplasm resources in the four areas are relatively concentrated in a small area. Not only are the densities of germplasm resources of the 6 regions in southeastern of China large, but also the uniformities are relatively homogeneous. The differences in density and uniformity of germplasm resources between eastern and western China are obvious. According to results of the orientation analysis, the distribution range of germplasm resources in the Northwest Oasis is wheat, cotton, beets, and grapes, while the directional trend of germplasm resources in the South are double crops of rice, tropical crops, and sugarcane. Germplasm resources are distributed as follows in these three regions: in the Northern plateau small grains, beets, Northeast soybean, spring wheat and beets; in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau highland barley, wheat, and rape, mostly distributed in southern areas; and in the Northwest Oasis wheat, cotton, beets, and grapes found in the north of the region. The distribution of germplasm resources of these 6 southeastern regions has no obvious bias.

    Biodiversity information resources. I. Species distribution, catalogue, phylogeny, and life history traits
    Xin Wang, Fenglin Zhang, Jian Zhang
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  1223-1238.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017184
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    Species distribution, catalogues, phylogeny, and life history traits are the data basis of biodiversity studies, playing critical roles in understanding species origins, evolution, and conservation biodiversity. Recently, a large number of scientific data-sharing platforms have been created, greatly contributing to the development of biodiversity informatics. However, it is difficult for most researchers to deal with big data with high complexity and heterogeneity. Determining how to select and utilize these data accurately and effectively becomes a huge challenge for ecologists and conservation biologists. To better deal with existing problems related to scattered distributed data, we classify biodiversity data resources into four groups (species distribution, catalogues, phylogeny and life history traits), and select representative databases (e.g. Global Biodiversity Information Facility, The Plant List, Open Tree of Life, and The Plant Trait Database (TRY) for demonstration. For each database, data type, and sampling design, geographic coverage and data availability are reported, and selected publications using these datasets are briefly introduced. Meanwhile, we describe recent achievements on the construction of China’s biodiversity digital platforms in each section. Overall, we hope that this paper provides a starting point for researchers to be familiar with these databases and use them correctly, and could have the potential to stimulate the development of related fields in research and conservation of biodiversity under the efforts of researchers and the public.

    Challenges regarding the necessity of voucher specimens for naming a new animal species: the Code, species conservation and the digital age
    Jun Chen
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  1239-1245.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017253
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    With increased awareness of endangered species conservation, the development of digital technology, and different interpretations of some articles in the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (Fourth edition), in recent years some new vertebrate species have been named and published without preserved dead bodies as type specimens. This has triggered discussions on the necessity of voucher specimens for naming a new animal species. In 2015, after Marshall & Evenhuis described a new insect species on the basis of 15 photographs only, a hot debate on this topic resulted. Supporters who advocate for naming new species without voucher specimens argue that, to name a new species without a voucher specimen is Code-compliant according to the Article 73.1.4. In addition, more and more skilled “digital collectors” would increase the likelihood of this kind of practice, and thus the threat to endangered species from collecting specimens could be reduced. Scholars on the other side of the debate argue that, in the Code, it is stressed that the specimen is the name-bearing type and not the illustration or description itself, and that describing new species based only on a picture and other non-physical specimens would result in errors in follow-up studies due to the lack of more detailed, accurate, and comprehensive morphological characteristics, along with possibilities of falsification. As well, collecting specimens is not the reason that species are endangered or extinct. In this article, the author summarizes the viewpoints of both sides of the debate. In consideration of some articles with ambiguous and even contradictory meanings, the author suggests that the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (Fourth edition) be revised in response to the needs of endangered species conservation and new technological applications. Naming new species with voucher specimens should be encouraged, as well as collecting specimens using reasonable, moderate, and orderly principles.

    Revision and supplement to plants from Xisha Islands, China
    Shuangwen Deng, Faguo Wang, Junfang Liu, Fuwu Xing
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  1246-1250.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017066
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    Earth BioGenome Project and Taxonomy
    Chaodong Zhu, Shixiao Luo, Xin Zhou, Huayan Chen, Guanyang Zhang
    Biodiv Sci. 2017, 25 (11):  1251-1254.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017285
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    Reflecting on the recent Shenzhen Declaration on Plant Sciences at XIX International Botanical Congress, we discuss connections between the Earth BioGenome Project (ESP) and Taxonomy. Against a backdrop of rapid species extinction, the ESP aims to speed up species conservation and preservation. It holds promise in promoting biodiversity informatics. Taxonomy underpins biodiversity research, and it will contribute important information to the ESP. For the ESP to make breakthroughs and innovations in biological sciences, it requires not only organic integration with the taxonomic community, but also needs to align with current major research programs and national strategies on biodiversity in China.

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