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Table of Content
    Volume 28 Issue 12
    20 December 2020
    The Yellow River Delta (YRD) wetland located in the Yellow River Estuary in Dongying City, is the youngest wetland ecosystem in the warm temperate zone of the world. The YRD wetland not only has rich biological resource but also is an important stopover site for migrant birds along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF) in China, playing a major role in protecting the biodiversity and restoring the ecological functions. Significant change was found in species composition of macrobenthos in the intertidal zone and offshore areas of the YRD (see pages 1511–1522 of this issue). This picture displays eight swans overwintering and feeding among reeds in YRD wetland. (Photographed by Bin Yang)
    Special Feature: Biodiversity Conservation along the Yellow River
    Biodiversity conservation strategies for the Yellow River basin based on the Three Conditions Framework
    Yue Cao, Shuyu Hou, Zixuan Zeng, Xiaoshan Wang, Fangyi Wang, Zhicong Zhao, Rui Yang
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (12):  1447-1458.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020153
    Abstract ( 2032 )   HTML ( 67 )   PDF (3548KB) ( 851 )   Save
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    Ecological conservation and high-quality development in the Yellow River basin have become national focuses for China. Therefore, it is important to study the biodiversity conservation strategies for the Yellow River basin. This paper utilizes the implementation framework of “Three Global Conditions for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use”, which divides all landscapes into three categories: cities and farms (C1 landscapes), shared lands (C2 landscapes), and large wild areas (C3 landscapes). This framework considers biodiversity conservation for all landscapes and is conducive for the implementation of conservation strategies. Here, we apply the three conditions framework to China on a regional scale. We first analyze the spatial pattern of the three conditions in the Yellow River basin. We then identify the direct threats to biodiversity in this region based on a literature review. Finally, we put forward some possible systematic biodiversity conservation strategies for this region.

    The spatial pattern of the three conditions in the Yellow River basin. The Yellow River basin mainly consists of C1 and C2 landscapes, comprising 45.5% and 52.9% of the basin area, respectively. C1 landscapes are highly modified by human activity and are widely distributed in the Loess Plateau and the North China Plain. C2 landscapes are mainly distributed in the Ordos Plateau and the upper reach of the Yellow River. C3 landscapes are mainly distributed at the source region of the Yellow River on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and in the northwest region of the Ordos Plateau, taking up merely 1.6% of the basin area.

    Direct threats to biodiversity in the Yellow River basin. Direct threats to biodiversity include: (1) Habitat loss and degradation. Urban expansion and industrial/mining development in C1 and C2 landscapes have directly resulted in habitat loss and degradation. The expansion of agricultural areas has led to reduction of natural habitats and wetlands. Additionally, road construction has resulted in habitat fragmentation and dam construction is threatening the river ecosystem. (2) Climate change. Climate warming and drying has negatively impacted C3 landscapes. In some C2 landscapes, vegetation has degraded. In C1 landscapes, climate change may further increase the demand for agricultural production, putting more pressures on nature. (3) Pollution. Cities and farms in C1 and C2 landscapes produce a large amount of waste, resulting in water, soil, air and noise pollution. (4) Over exploitation. The large demand for water due to over exploitation of agriculture and animal husbandry, excessive tourism development, and unnecessary construction projects all have negatively affected biodiversity. (5) Invasive species. The Yellow River is at risk of invasive species invasions due to aquaculture, aquatic trade and release activities.

    Biodiversity conservation strategies in the Yellow River basin. Various ecological protection projects in the Yellow River basin have already seen success. In an effort to focus on biodiversity conservation, we propose the following six additional strategies: (1) Realizing “conservation covering all landscapes” through spatial planning. (2) Improvement of the protected areas system. (3) Systematically improving production and ecological efficiency in agriculture. (4) Building ecological cities. (5) Improving biodiversity conservation in ecological engineering projects. (6) Strengthening the overall protection of the river ecosystem in this region.

    The status, distribution patterns, and conservation gap for bird diversity in the Yellow River basin, China
    Fei Duan, Sheng Li
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (12):  1459-1468.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020259
    Abstract ( 2326 )   HTML ( 118 )   PDF (5092KB) ( 1552 )   Supplementary Material   Save
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    The Yellow River basin has diverse geographical conditions, climatic conditions, vegetation types, and human activities, all of which shapes the biodiversity patterns for different taxa across this region. Here, we collected bird occurrence data in the Yellow River basin during 2009-2019. We combined data from the range layers published by the IUCN and BirdLife International with 35,026 field observation records (i.e., birdwatching records from the China Bird Report, eBird, and GBIF, camera-trapping records and other field records). We identified 662 bird species (accounting for 45.81% of the total number of bird species in China) occurring in the Yellow River basin, belonging to 23 orders and 83 families. Passeriformes has the highest number of species (384, accounting for 46.83% of the species of this order in China), followed by Charadriiformes (67 species, 50.00%) and Anseriformes (39 species, 72.22%). We identified 121 species that are considered threatened. From these species, 37 are listed by the IUCN Red List and 52 species are listed by the Red List of China’s Vertebrates as threatened (i.e., CR, EN or VU), and 22 species are listed as Class-I and 73 species as Class-II national key protected species in China. Birds listed as threatened were typically characterized by having a terrestrial lifestyle, large body size, high trophic level, and migrated long distances. Total species richness was observed on a gradient decreasing from south to north. The southern upriver areas of plateaus and mountains in Sichuan, Gansu, and Shaanxi had the highest species richness. However, threatened bird richness showed a different spatial pattern with hotspots primarily located in the middle and lower reaches of Yellow River, especially on the lowlands near the delta. We identified 48 national nature reserves in the Yellow River basin, covering a total of 504 bird species (76.13% of the region), among which 92 were threatened (76.03%). These national nature reserves were mostly located in the upper reaches of the Yellow River. The coverage of threatened species in the lower reaches was low, which indicates a major gap on protected area coverage. We propose the need to strengthen the construction of protected areas in the middle and lower reaches, specifically for the protection of threatened birds. To conserve the rich bird diversity under high-intensity land use in the Yellow River basin, an integrative framework with diversified conservation strategies is critically needed.

    Wetland water bird biodiversity conservation strategies in the Yellow River basin
    Gongqi Sun, Mingxiang Zhang, Guangchun Lei
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (12):  1469-1482.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020227
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    The Yellow River plays an important Part Chinese History, and is considered the mother river for China. The river basin is rich in wetland resources, which helps social and economic development. Therefore, effective conservation of this wetland ecosystem is important for China’s future prosperity. According to the 2nd National Wetland Inventory, there are 3.91 million hectares (ha) of wetlands in the river basin. Most wetlands are distributed in the upstream part of the river (80.4%). Whereas, the middle reaches and lower reaches of the river account for 12.5% and 7.1% of wetlands, respectively. Wetlands are key habitats for migratory water birds in the East Asia-Australasia flyway, and the Central Asia Flyway. Some species are critically endangered depending on the Yellow River wetlands, such as Grus nigricollis, G. leucogeranus, G. japonensis, Anser indicus, Otis tarda, Ciconia boyciana, Cygnus cygnus, C. olor, Aythya baeri. Although the river basin retains only 2% of the country’s water resources, it provides drinking water for 12% of the country’s population and irrigation for 15% of the country’s arable land. Unfortunately, the wetland ecosystem is relatively fragile and in need of conservation. To protect the Yellow River wetland ecosystem, 230 wetland protected areas have been established. These protected areas include 2 national parks, 9 national nature reserves, 68 local nature reserves, 145 national wetland parks, and 6 provincial wetland parks. The rate of wetlands being protected exceeds 65%, which is above than national average 53%. However, current conservation efforts are still unable to mitigate key challenges such as climate change, over exploitation of water resources, pollution, and the degradation of habitats for water birds. A list of comprehensive wetland biodiversity conservation strategies has been proposed which include: establishing a river basin protected area system, conserving and restorating key habitats for endangered water birds, and strengthening an integrating the river basin management with effective mechanisms.

    Discussion of existing protection for three waterbirds’ habitats in the Yellow River basin nature reserves, based on satellite tracking
    Yuxi Wang, Yanbo Xie, Nyambayar Batbayar, Baoguang Zhu, Shubin Dong, Anna Barma, Anton Sasin, Lei Cao
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (12):  1483-1495.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020328
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    Nature reserves represent an important form of biodiversity conservation, and their presence is particularly crucial for migratory waterbirds. From 2016‒2018, six Bar-headed Geese (Anser indicus), five Eurasian Spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia) and ten Oriental Storks (Ciconia Boyciana) were captured in China, Mongolia and Russia. During the tracking period, 844,592 pieces of high-frequency GPS tracking data were obtained, we analyzed the duration that these birds spent in the Yellow River basin and, the land cover types during their stay. Then we simulated the home range of the three species using kernel density estimation. The results showed that the Yellow River basin wetlands are used as a stopover site during the migration of these three waterbirds. Some juveniles of the Eurasian Spoonbills use the land as a summering area, and some of the Oriental Storks use it as a wintering area. There are differences in land cover of three waterfowl in the Yellow River basin. The Bar-headed Goose used the grassland (49.0%), bare land (26.2%) and water (22.5%). The Eurasian Spoonbill used the cropland (42.1%), grassland (19.8%) and wetland (19.6%). The Oriental Stork used the wetland (49.8%), cropland (34.5%) and water (4.6%). Our study found that 50% of the home range of the Bar-headed Goose overlaps with the existing nature reserves, while the homes range of the Eurasian Spoonbill and the Oriental Stork only overlap 1.6% and 0 with existing nature reserves, respectively. The habitats of these latter two species are in need of greater protection. At the same time, by analyzing the proportion of land types in the coverage area, we found that the birds’ utilization of bare land, grassland and cropland is more passive, while the utilization of wetland and water is active. The results detail the movement and living characteristics of three waterfowl in the Yellow River. Given the lack of overlap between their habitats and existing nature reserves, it will be important to establish comprehensive protected areas for Eurasian Spoonbills and Oriental Storks as part of further development of the Yellow River nature reserves.

    Species diversity and conservation of freshwater fishes in the Yellow River basin
    Yahui Zhao, Yingchun Xing, Binbin Lü, Chuanjiang Zhou, Wenbo Yang, Kai Zhao
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (12):  1496-1510.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020191
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    This paper firstly reviews the research history on fish taxonomy and species diversity of the Yellow River basin. It includes four stages from the beginning of a few records on fish distributed in the river to now with deep studies covering biodiversity, zoogeography, phylogeny, and conservation. Based on the research literatures, museum database and records, and our own field surveys in the past 15 years throughout the entire basin, we discuss the species richness, distribution pattern, endemism, and threatened species of the freshwater fishes in the Yellow River basin. A total of 147 species, belonging to 78 genera, 21 families, and 12 orders, are distributed in the Yellow River. Among them, fishes from the order Cypriniformes are dominant. There are 27 endemic species to the river and 24 threatened species, accounting for 18.37% and 16.32% of the total number of freshwater fish species of the river, respectively. Moreover, species diversity varied among the upper, middle, and lower reaches of the Yellow River. Comparing to other major rivers in China, the species richness is at a lower level although the diversity at higher taxon levels is relatively high. Proportions of endemic and threatened species of the Yellow River are lower than the average level of the entire nation. However, the upper reach has large proportions of both endemic and threatened species, which should be drawn more attention for future conservation. At present, the species diversity of freshwater fish is rapidly decreasing. Our thorough field investigations may collect only 53.06% of the total species. Cascade hydropower development, over-exploitation of water resources, invasive species, water pollution, and overfishing are major threats to the fish species of the Yellow River. The main stream and tributaries may face different threat that need targeted strategies for the conservation of freshwater fishes in the future.

    Species composition and long-term variation of macrobenthos in intertidal zone and offshore areas of the Yellow River Delta
    Baoquan Li, Shaoyu Jiang, Juanzhang Lü, Linlin Chen, Lang Yan, Chunyun Liu, Xiaojing Li, Bo Song, Xinzheng Li
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (12):  1511-1522.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020164
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    The Yellow River Delta wetlands play a major role in protecting the biodiversity and ecological function of the Bohai Sea. To understand the species diversity and spatial-temporal dynamics of macrobenthic community in this region, five surveys were carried out in intertidal zone and offshore areas in August and November 2016, May, August and November 2017, respectively. Results showed that 187 macrobenthic species were identified in surveyed areas, of which, 119 species were found in the intertidal zone and 99 in offshore areas. Obvious variation was found in the spatio-temporal distribution pattern of species composition. Compared to historical records, individuals of certain species presented a miniaturization trend in body size. The dominant species composition also has undergone an obvious change from large-sized crustacean and mollusc species toward small-sized polychaete, bivalve and crustacean species. Possible factors responsible for these changes are complex, including a decrease of water inflow and sediment transport by the Yellow River combined with human activities (overfishing and increasing exploitation) and other factors, e.g., salinity decrease and the invasion of Spartina alterniflora happened in the Yellow River Delta.

    Geographic patterns and environmental determinants of angiosperm and terrestrial vertebrate species richness in the Yellow River basin
    Yuan Sun, Weigang Hu, Shuran Yao, Ying Sun, Jianming Deng
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (12):  1523-1532.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020352
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    Large-scale spatial distribution patterns of biodiversity and understanding the mechanisms that form these patterns are core questions for the fields of ecology and biogeography. The Yellow River basin is an important ecological barrier in China. Therefore, understanding the distribution patterns of plant and animal richness and what influences these patterns for is important for the ecological conservation and high-quality development of the Yellow River basin. Here, we used collected data for several variables (species spatial distribution, climate, environmental heterogeneity, and human activity) to explore the spatial distribution patterns of species richness and their main influencing factors for angiosperms and terrestrial vertebrates in the Yellow River basin. We found that the species richness for angiosperms and terrestrial vertebrates had similar distribution patterns at regional scale. Species richness was highest in the southern mountain region and lowest in the eastern alpine region and the northern arid region. Tree regression models showed that the canopy height range was the most important predictor for angiosperm species richness and net primary productivity range was the most important predictor for terrestrial vertebrate species richness. When the spatial autocorrelation was removed, environmental heterogeneity and climatic factors still had important and similar explanations for species richness at regional scale. The results indicate that species richness is determined by environmental heterogeneity and climate. Human activity was not a main influencing factor for species richness pattern. For future research, choosing more accurate environmental driving factors for different regions or selecting different types of environmental heterogeneity factors for analyses will help with understanding the causes of species diversity patterns more deeply.

    Effects of bio-invasion on the Yellow River basin ecosystem and its countermeasures
    Wandong Yin, Mingke Wu, Baoliang Tian, Hongwei Yu, Qiyun Wang, Jianqing Ding
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (12):  1533-1545.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020208
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    A healthy ecosystem in the Yellow River basin is central to ecological protection and high-quality development along the Yellow River region. However, the rapid development in the economy and increase in human activity has resulted in a large number of invasive species being introduced into the Yellow River basin and occupying native species ecological niches. The outbreak and spread of invasive species pose a serious threat to native organisms and ecosystems in the Yellow River basin and can even seriously affect human health. Therefore, it is important for the ecological protection and high-quality development of the Yellow River basin to study the invasion of alien species in the Yellow River basin and to put forward strategies for the protection of native species. Here, we review the bio-invasion characteristics, transmission approaches and mechanisms in the nine provinces of Yellow River basin, and the effects of bio-invasion on the biological resources and ecological system in the Yellow River basin. We then suggest measures and countermeasures to reduce current effects of bio-invasion, protect the Yellow River healthy ecosystems, and ensure high-quality development.

    Original Papers
    Canopy structure is an important factor driving local-scale woody plant functional beta diversity
    Changyan Zhou, Bin Wang, Yun Deng, Junjie Wu, Min Cao, Luxiang Lin
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (12):  1546-1557.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020092
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    Functional beta diversity refers to the variation of functional composition between communities. Exploring the mechanisms underlying functional beta diversity is a central theme in community ecology. We measured 11 important functional traits of woody plants in 20 ha forest dynamics plot in Xishuangbanna tropical seasonal rainforest and used abundance-weighted mean nearest neighbor trait distance to quantify the functional beta diversity at different sampling scales. We revealed the relative importance of canopy structure, environmental heterogeneity, and spatial distance on functional beta diversity using multiple regressions on distance matrices. Our results showed that, for all woody plant individuals with DBH ≥ 1 cm, the best model to explain the functional beta diversity was one including canopy structure, environment, and spatial distance. At each of the three sampling scales, canopy structure and environment had relatively large explanatory power and increased with increasing sampling scale, while the relative importance of spatial distance was negligible. Our findings corroborate that environmental heterogeneity and spatial distance are the two main factors driving functional beta diversity, and we provide new mechanistic insights by including the effects of canopy cover at local scales.

    Biodiversity and spatiotemporal variations of benthic macroinvertebrates in the Baoying Lake, Yangzhou, Jiangsu
    Rui Hu, Ruxiao Wang, Shiyu Du, Meng Li, Yuhui Xing, Da Pan, Haigen Xu, Hongying Sun
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (12):  1558-1569.  doi:10.17520/biods.2020023
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    Benthic macroinvertebrates serve as important indicator organisms for water environment monitoring, and the study of their community structure and biodiversity can effectively reflect the health of the water body. From 2015 to 2019, we investigated the community structure and biodiversity of benthic macroinvertebrates in the Baoying Lake, Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province. Using both morphological traits and DNA barcoding, we identified a total of 57 species. Assigned to three phyla and five classes, these species included: 23 molluscs (15 gastropods and 8 bivalves); 12 oligochaetes; and 22 arthropods (5 malacostracans and 17 insects). Gastropods constituted the most dominant group, accounting for more than 65% of density ratio during five years. The three most abundant gastropods were Bithynia fuchsiana, B. misella, and Alocinma longicornis. Surveys on the annual variation of species diversity and community structure showed mean values of the Margalef abundance index, Simpson dominance index and Pielou evenness index at 2.27 ± 0.28, 0.82 ± 0.02, and 0.78 ± 0.08, respectively. Biotic assessments of water quality based on both the Shannon-Wiener index (H') and the biotic index (BI) suggested varying intensities of pollutants in the Baoying Lake between 2016 and 2019. This variation is likely related to anthropogenic eutrophication, notably overstocking during barrier net aquaculture.

    Beta diversity of stream bacteria in Hengduan Mountains: The effects of climatic and environmental variables
    Mingjia Li, Kaiyuan Wu, Fanfan Meng, Ji Shen, Yongqin Liu, Nengwen Xiao, Jianjun Wang
    Biodiv Sci. 2020, 28 (12):  1570-1580.  doi:10.17520/biods.2019390
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    Understanding community composition variation (beta-diversity) along environmental and spatial gradients is a central interest in ecology and conservation biology. Although bacterial elevational patterns are somewhat established, their underlying processes were understudied. To better understand the patterns behind beta diversity, we investigated aquatic bacterial community composition in individual streams in Nujiang and Lancang rivers located in the Hengduan Mountains of the Tibetan Plateau. Using Baselga’s approach of beta diversity partitioning based on the Sørensen dissimilarity index, we explored the elevational patterns of turnover and nestedness through linear models and measured the relative importance of environmental, climatic, and spatial factors on bacterial beta diversity with multiple regression on distance matrices and variation partitioning analyses. Our results showed bacterial community composition differed between the Lancang and Nujiang rivers. Total beta diversity and turnover component increased with increasing elevational distance, and total beta diversity was driven by turnover component. Climatic and environmental factors were important predictors of total beta diversity and turnover component in the two catchments, and all the significant correlations were positive. The highest correlation factors were elevation distance (R 2 = 0.408, P < 0.001) and mean annual temperature (R 2 = 0.417, P < 0.001). The variation partitioning results suggest nestedness component was heavily affected by dispersal limitation while total beta diversity and turnover were mainly affected by environmental filtering. Moreover, harsher climate conditions will increase total beta diversity and turnover, and form stronger environmental filtering processes that impact the bacterial species composition. Our research shows that the conservation of bacterial diversity in the stream of Hengduan Mountains in Tibet needs to target the whole multiple sites, rather than a few richest sites of biodiversity.

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