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Table of Content
    Volume 26 Issue 2
    20 February 2018
    From the left corner turn clockwise: white-lipped deer (Przewalskium albirostris), Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii), Przewalski’s gazelle (Procapra przewalskii), wolf (Canis lupus), snow leopard (Panthera uncia), plateau pika (Ochotona curzoniae), Tibetan wild asses (Equus kiang), and wild yak (Bos mutus). The background photo is the Kobresia humilis meadow on the diluvial fan of Lenglongling —the highest peak in the eastern end of Qilianshan Mountain.
    Relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in alpine meadows of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau
    Zhonghua Zhang, Huakun Zhou, Xinquan Zhao, Buqing Yao, Zhen Ma, Quanmin Dong, Zhenhua Zhang, Wenying Wang, Yuanwu Yang
    Biodiv Sci. 2018, 26 (2):  111-129.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017021
    Abstract ( 4223 )   HTML ( 143 )   PDF (1179KB) ( 3983 )   Save
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    The study of the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning (BEF) is a hot topic in the field of terrestrial ecosystem ecology, and is of great significance for the efficient use and management of ecosystems. Furthermore, it plays an important role in the restoration of degraded ecosystems and biodiversity conservation. Alpine grassland is the main ecosystem type found in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. In recent years, progress has been made on species diversity and ecosystem functioning and their mutual relationship in alpine grasslands. This paper analyzes existing problems in the research of grassland biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in terms of the study of underlying ecological processes and the impacts on ecosystem multi-functionality under global change. The effects of different grassland types, grassland degradation, grazing disturbance, simulated climate change, mowing, fertilization, enclosure, and replanting on the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in alpine grasslands are also thoroughly reviewed in this paper. Moreover, deficiencies and future research directions of alpine grassland BEF are identified: carrying on the BEF research of alpine grasslands based on the functional diversity of species, comprehensively considering the effects of abiotic factors such as resource supply levels, disturbance intensity and scale, and environmental fluctuation on the relationship between species diversity and ecosystem function, and paying attention to the effect of scale and element coupling on BEF research of alpine grasslands under global climate change. Finally, based on research progress and conclusions of BEF in alpine grasslands, we put forward suggestions to improve the utilization rate of alpine grassland resources and biodiversity conservation, including strengthening grazing management, protecting biodiversity, improving governance of degraded grasslands, maintaining biodiversity function, strengthening innovation and protection concepts and enhancing ecosystem functioning that has been seriously weakened by climate change and human disturbance.

    Orginal Article
    Floristic characteristics and diversity patterns of seed plants endemic to the Tibetan Plateau
    Haibin Yu, Yili Zhang, Linshan Liu, Zhao Chen, Wei Qi
    Biodiv Sci. 2018, 26 (2):  130-137.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017078
    Abstract ( 2703 )   HTML ( 97 )   PDF (1006KB) ( 2186 )   English Version Save
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    The Tibetan Plateau (TP) harbors numerous seed plants, however, the floristic characteristics and diversity patterns of plants endemic to this region have been rarely studied. Based on several monographs and online databases, we compiled a list of seed plants that exclusively occur on the TP as well as their distribution at the county level. We further explored their characteristics, floristic composition and spatial distribution patterns. We identified 3,764 endemic seed plants belonging to 519 genera and 113 families, 76.3% of which are herbaceous plants. Among them, 15 families (e.g. Asteraceae, Ranunculaceae, Orobanchaceae) and 7 genera (e.g. Pedicularis, Rhododendron, Corydalis) contain over 100 endemic species. Floristic composition analysis indicates that 67.5% of these endemic plants are temperate species. Species diversity declined gradually from the southeast to the northwest with hotspots located within the East Himalaya-Hengduan Mountains. Vertically, most species occurred at intermediate elevations. Understanding floristic characteristics and diversity patterns of Tibetan endemic flora shed light on future studies on the evolutional history and conservation practices in this area.

    Identifying priority areas for grassland endangered plant species in the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve based on the MaxEnt model
    Xiaoyu Wu, Shikui Dong, Shiliang Liu, Quanru Liu, Yuhui Han, Xiaolei Zhang, Xukun Su, Haidi Zhao, Jing Feng
    Biodiv Sci. 2018, 26 (2):  138-148.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017188
    Abstract ( 2026 )   HTML ( 55 )   PDF (2629KB) ( 1957 )   English Version Save
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    Located in southern Qinghai Province in China, Sanjiangyuan is the source area for the Yangtze River, Yellow River, and Lancang River, and a worldwide biodiversity hotspot. Sanjiangyuan was degraded through human disturbance and climate change, which has led to a dramatic loss of the biodiversity of rangeland resources. We conducted field surveys based on species coordinates during 2014 and 2015. We used the MaxEnt model to predict distribution of 40 endangered plant species in Sanjiangyuan using the species coordinate data and bioclimatic data collected from the WorldClim database. From this, we obtained hotspots of endangered plant species in Sanjiangyuan under current and future climatic conditions. Results showed that hotspot areas of endangered plant species in Sanjiangyuan estimated using the MaxEnt model were approximately 89,438 km2, and mainly located in the east and south of the reserve. Among these hotspots, those that included more than 30 endangered plant species totalled 485 km2, and were mainly found in Nangqian County, Yushu City, Banma County, Jiuzhi County, and Henan County. The climate will become warmer and wetter in Sanjiangyuan in the future, which would benefit biodiversity and expand hotspot areas to the northwest. However, problems associated with planning the reserve remain. Nearly 4,423 km2 of hotspot areas have not been protected in the key reserve, including in Nangqian County, Yushu City, Banma County, Jiuzhi County, and Henan County. In these areas grazing is permitted, which might lead to human disturbances. We suggest policy makers focus more attention on these areas and increase conservation efforts.

    Conservation outcomes assessment of Sanjiangyuan alpine grassland with MODIS-EVI approach
    Ruiling Song, Hao Wang, Di Zhang, Zhi Lü, Ziyun Zhu, Lu Zhang, Yanlin Liu, gongbao Caiwen, Lan Wu
    Biodiv Sci. 2018, 26 (2):  149-157.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017196
    Abstract ( 1414 )   HTML ( 17 )   PDF (4875KB) ( 933 )   English Version Save
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    The Sanjiangyuan Region is a priority area for ecosystem conservation in China. Since 2005, the government has contributed significant funding to implement ecological conservation and restoration to protect and restore the grasslands. This study correlated aboveground biomass (AGB) data from 248 sites scattered across the Sanjiangyuan Region with MODIS Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) data from 2000 to 2016 and utilized four regression models to estimate AGB by EVI. Results showed that power-function model worked best for grasslands in the Sanjiangyuan Region. Trend analysis showed no significant trends in 62% of the area of Sanjiangyuan, with 22% of the area, mainly distributed in the western and northern regions, increasing significantly and 16% of the area, sporadically located in the central and southern regions, decreasing significantly from 2000 to 2016. In general, the AGB of the entire area showed no significant increases or decreases with high annual fluctuations since 2000. However, there have been significant decreases since 2012. The AGB inside of the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve was lower than that found outside, and didn’t increase significantly during first-stage projects between 2005 and 2012, based on results from matching methods.

    Diversity and endemism of ungulates on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau: Evolution and conservation
    Zhigang Jiang, Lili Li, Yiming Hu, Huijian Hu, Chunwang Li, Xiaoge Ping, Zhenhua Luo
    Biodiv Sci. 2018, 26 (2):  158-170.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017321
    Abstract ( 2745 )   HTML ( 60 )   PDF (5580KB) ( 1907 )   Save
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    The Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is a unique physical geographical unit, rich in habitat types and species, and a hot spot in biodiversity and global environmental change research. Unique fauna evolves on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Among these wild animals are the endemic hoofed animals which possess unique characteristics, such as Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii), wild yak (Bos mutus), Tibetan gazelle (Procapra picticaudata), Przewalski’s gazelle (P. przewalskii), and white-lipped deer (Przewalskium albirostris). In this study, we explored the following questions: How many ungulate species are there on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau? How many endemic ungulate species are there? What is the distribution pattern of these species? What is the status of their survival? What is their conservation status? We firstly identified the geographic boundaries of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. On the plateau, there are 28 ungulate species, 10 of which are endemic to the plateau. The ungulates of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau account for 42% of China’s extant ungulate species whereas the density of the hoofed species per unit area on the plateau is 62% higher than that of the whole country. However, the distribution of ungulate species on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is uneven, and shows a pattern with low species density in the western region but high species density in the eastern part of the plateau, in contrast to the high species density of the endemic ungulates in the hinterland of the plateau. However, the ratio of threatened ungulates on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is high, among them, 71% of the ungulates are threatened species, 54% are included in CITES Appendix I or II. The Red List Index of ungulate species on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau has continued to decline from 1998 to 2015, and this trend is compounded and worsened by the trend of global change, indicating that the living status of ungulates on the plateau is continuously deteriorating. Through four decades of conservation in the country, some important populations and habitats of the ungulates on the plateau are not protected by nature reserves and the newly established the Three-River-Source National Park. Therefore, to achieve the win-win goal of human social, and economic development and nature conservation on the plateau, we should manage the grassland ecosystems sustainably, save wildlife populations and habitats, and protect biodiversity on the plateau.

    Predicting the potential distribution of white-lipped deer using the MaxEnt model
    Shaopeng Cui, Xiao Luo, Chunwang Li, Huijian Hu, Zhigang Jiang
    Biodiv Sci. 2018, 26 (2):  171-176.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017080
    Abstract ( 2073 )   HTML ( 92 )   PDF (5089KB) ( 2630 )   English Version Save
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    Species distribution is critical for developing effective conservation measures. The potential geographic distribution of the white-lipped deer (Przewalskium albirostris), which is endemic to the Qinghai- Tibetan Plateau, was delineated using the Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) model with 97 occurrence records and 7 environmental variables. The species occurrences were collected from literature and field investigations. Our results showed that the potential range of the white-lipped deer included the eastern part of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and the potential habitat spread from one core region to neighboring regions among Tibet, Qinghai, and Sichuan provinces. The Jackknife test indicated that the topographic variable, temperature seasonality, and annual precipitation were the most important predictive factors for the model, while the human activity variable made a relatively small contribution. The current distribution and status of the white-lipped deer on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is unclear and we suggest further research is needed on the species.

    The distribution, population and conservation status of Przewalski’s gazelle, Procapra przewalskii
    Xiaoge Ping, Chunwang Li, Chunlin Li, Songhua Tang, Hongxia Fang, Shaopeng Cui, Jing Chen, Enguang Wang, Yubang He, Ping Cai, Yu Zhang, Yonglin Wu, Zhigang Jiang
    Biodiv Sci. 2018, 26 (2):  177-184.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017152
    Abstract ( 1656 )   HTML ( 23 )   PDF (9772KB) ( 1002 )   English Version Save
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    We conducted surveys on the distribution, population, and conservation status of Przewalski’s gazelle, Procapra przewalskii, using the total count method in 2014 and 2015. Przewalski’s gazelle was found in 12 separate locations around Qinghai Lake. Compared with results from the First National Wildlife Survey, several new locations were found, and both the distribution range and area were enlarged. At least 1,238 individuals were found around Qinghai Lake. Compared with survey results collected after 2010, the population size of Przewalski’s gazelle reached a relatively stable level. Although four locations of Przewalski’s gazelle were under the protection of the Qinghai Lake National Nature Reserve, and special conservation areas and protection stations for the gazelle were also established, overall conservation efforts are still insufficient. A nature reserve that is specifically focused on the conservation of Przewalski’s gazelle should be established in the Upper Buha River of the Shengge-Kuaierma region in Tianjun County. Moreover, proper ecological compensation mechanisms should be developed to resolve the contradiction between conservation and economic development. Considering the fast growth of the captive-bred population, future reintroductions should be conducted in suitable locations within the historical range of this gazelle outside the Qinghai Lake basin.

    A wild yak survey in Chang Tang of Tibet Autonomous Region and Hoh Xil of Qinghai Province
    Yiming Hu, Weiqi Li, Zhigang Jiang, Wulin Liu, Jianchao Liang, Yizhou Lin, Zhiwen Huang, Haihua Qin, Kun Jin, Huijian Hu
    Biodiv Sci. 2018, 26 (2):  185-190.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017340
    Abstract ( 3039 )   HTML ( 29 )   PDF (4615KB) ( 1643 )   English Version Save
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    The wild yak (Bos grunniens), which is endemic to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, mainly distributed in Chang Tang region of Tibet, Hoh Xil and Sanjiangyuan regions of Qinghai and Altun Mountain of Xinjiang. In this study, we used field data and data from the published literatures to estimate the population of wild yaks as well as their distribution in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the adjacent areas in China. Field surveys were conducted in Chang Tang of Tibet, Hoh Xil of Qinghai between 2012 and 2014. According to our field survey, there were 11,222-21,072 wild yaks in Chang Tang of Tibet, and 659-1,793 in Hoh Xil of Qinghai. Although our results indicate that the population of wild yak has increased since 1990s, the distribution area of wild yak is shrinking. With the changing of the global climate and the intensifying of human activities on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, stronger actions to protect the endemic species in this area are still needed.

    The elevational patterns of mammalian richness in the Himalayas
    Yiming Hu, Jianchao Liang, Kun Jin, Zhifeng Ding, Zhixin Zhou, Huijian Hu, Zhigang Jiang
    Biodiv Sci. 2018, 26 (2):  191-201.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017324
    Abstract ( 2639 )   HTML ( 60 )   PDF (4087KB) ( 2172 )   English Version Save
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    Studies of the distribution of biodiversity are hotspots in ecology and biogeography. Mountain ecosystems, which contain high habitat heterogeneity and biodiversity, play an important role in biodiversity conservation. The Himalayas are located in the southern rim of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. The complicated geological topography, vast elevational gradients (100-8,844 m), significant vertical climatic zonation, and diverse biodiversity make it an ideal study area for biodiversity distribution research. By combining field data and data from museum records and literature, 313 mammal species were found for each 100 m elevational band along the gradient from 100 to 6,000 m above sea level (a.s.l.) in the Himalayas. Most of the elevational species richness patterns were hump-shaped. Species richness of the overall mammals peaked at an elevation of 900-1,400 m. Species composition along the elevational gradient in the Himalayas can be classified into five groups (100-1,500 m, 1,500-2,000 m, 2,000-3,000 m, 3,000-4,200 m and 4,200-6,000 m a.s.l.) using UPGMA clustering of elevation-based species assemblages, which was similar to the divisions of the vertical vegetation zone. The distribution of mammals is uneven, with low diversity found in the northern slope of the Himalayas and high diversity in the southern slope; the valleys on south slope of the Himalayas that contain higher biodiversity are biological corridors connecting the northern and southern fauna. To maintain the exchange of biodiversity, we should sustainably strengthen protection to the valley ecosystems.

    From nature reserve to national park system pilot: Changes of environmental coverage in the Three-River-Source National Park and implications for amphibian and reptile conservation
    Huijie Qiao, Xiaoyi Wang, Wei Wang, Zhenhua Luo, Ke Tang, Yan Huang, Shengnan Yang, Weiwei Cao, Xinquan Zhao, Jianping Jiang, Junhua Hu
    Biodiv Sci. 2018, 26 (2):  202-209.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017305
    Abstract ( 1680 )   HTML ( 32 )   PDF (1376KB) ( 1789 )   English Version Save
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    The Three-River-Source (TRS) region, which harbors an evolutionarily unique and impressively large portion of plateau biodiversity, is an important national ecological security shelter zone. Acting as the first system pilot in China, the TRS National Park will be turned into both the exhibition of nature conservation and a heritage area of ecological culture on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. To better contribute to the construction of the TRS National Park, we compared the TRS National Park with the TRS and Kekexili Nature Reserves with respect to elevation, annual mean temperature and annual precipitation. By combining the environmental conditions of the occurrences of four species of amphibians and reptiles (i.e., Rana kukunoris, Nanorana pleskei, Scutiger boulengeri, and Phrynocephalus vlangalii) both inside and outside the national park, we explored potential opportunities and challenges for the conservation of poor-dispersal-ability species (including amphibians and reptiles) during construction of the TRS National Park. While the national park and the nature reserves had large overlap in geographical space, the environmental conditions were different between them. The preferred environmental conditions of the four species were mostly not included in the TRS National Park, but were included in the nature reserves. Given the unique geographical location of the TRS region and its sensitivity to climate change, the effective protection of amphibians and reptiles in this region will not only contribute to maintaining genetic diversity of species and the integrality of regional ecosystems, but also will help to achieve the goal of the TRS National Park and assist with the construction of ecological civilization. Thus, within the TRS National Park, to strengthen basic biological research, it is important to conduct long-term monitoring studies of population dynamics and community structure. Based on this, the potential effects of environmental changes on the distribution, genetic diversity, behavior, morphological traits, population dynamics and community of amphibians and reptiles could be understood, with the aim of achieving their sustainable survival within the TRS National Park in the face of global change.

    An observation to the new initiative of community conservation guard posts in the pilot Three-River-Source National Park
    Xiang Zhao, Ziyun Zhu, Zhi Lu, Lingyun Xiao, Sonamtso Mei, Hao Wang
    Biodiv Sci. 2018, 26 (2):  210-216.  doi:10.17520/biods.2017311
    Abstract ( 1436 )   HTML ( 22 )   PDF (513KB) ( 1445 )   Save
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    Community-based conservation has been proven as an effective approach for biodiversity conservation, and is an important part for National Parks in China. As the first pilot of the new national park system in China, the Three-River-Source National Park initiated a new arrangement to employ 16,621 villagers from each household living in the national park to serve as conservation guards. Local Tibetan herders take the main responsibility of Sanjiangyuan conservation and in return receive payments from the national park. Such an arrangement coincides with local people’s willingness of participating in conservation, influenced by traditional Tibetan Buddhist culture. However, in addition to conservation, poverty alleviation is set as a priority target especially when guards were selected, which to certain extent compromised the effectiveness of conservation. While understanding the needs of poverty alleviation, we analyzed institutional rationales of such a selection, and made policy suggestions that conservation targets should become the first priority and more resources and space should be allocated to local governments and communities for self-governance on conservation decisions and actions. NGOs may also contribute to assist these practices.

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