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Table of Content
    Volume 17 Issue 3
    20 May 2009

    The Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as the Siberian tiger, has been recognized as a keystone species in the regions of Russia Far East, Northeastern China, Eastern Mongolia, and North Korea. Its population has declined dramatically during the past century, from the historical record of 3,000 to the current low level of about 500 because of anthropogenic disturbances such as poaching and habitat loss. Tian et al. studied the spatiotemporal pattern of the Amur tiger population dynamics, and proposed strategies for conserving this endangered species. For details see pages 211–225 of this issue. (Photographed by Jianmin Xu)

    Spatiotemporal pattern and major causes of the Amur tiger population dynamics
    Yu Tian, Jianguo Wu, Xiaojun Kou, Zhongwen Li, Tianming Wang, Pu Mou, Jianping Ge
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (3):  211-225.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08207
    Abstract ( 3743 )   HTML ( 6 )   PDF (600KB) ( 2936 )   Save
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    Based on a comprehensive literature review, we analyzed the spatiotemporal pattern of the Amur tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) population dynamics during the past century, and proposed a set of strategies and measures for conserving this endangered species from the perspectives of landscape ecology and sustainability science. The Amur tiger is a keystone species in the region of Russia Far East, Eastern Mongolia, Northeastern China, and North Korea, and its population declined dramatically during the past century, from the historical record of 3,000 to the current low level of about 500 because of different kinds of anthropogenic disturbances. The extant tiger population is distributed mainly in the Russia Far East region, including one large habitat area along the Sikhote Mountain and two smaller habitat patches near the Russia-China border. A small number of tiger individuals are also found in several small isolated habitat patches in northeastern China. The primary causes for the decline of the tiger population were poaching, habitat loss, and habitat fragmentation. The scarcity of prey and wars were also responsible for the decrease in the tiger population. To better conserve this endangered species, we propose the following strategies and measures: to establish a long-term monitoring platform; to strictly prohibit tiger poaching and restrict forest logging, hunting, and building roads and other artificial structures within the tiger distribution areas; and to build animal movement corridors among reserves and across the China-Russia border. To achieve these goals, large-scale land use planning and habitat pattern optimization are needed, and conservation goals must be integrated with the overall goal of sustainable development in the region that simultaneously considers environmental, economic, and social factors based on the principles of landscape ecology and sustainability science.

    Waterbirds diversity, seasonal dynamics, and interspecific correlation in the wetlands of Beili and Houshui Bays, Hainan
    Canchao Yang, Yan Cai, Wei Liang, Guogang Zhang, Haitao Shi
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (3):  226-232.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08217
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    We conducted monthly waterbird surveys using random transects in Beili and Houshui Bays, Hainan Island from November 2004 to November 2005. Fifty waterbird species of 5 orders and 10 families were recorded. The waterbird species richness and abundance were the highest in November and the lowest in June. The abundance of waterbirds was correlated among species and affected seasonal dynamics and species richness. Asian dowitcher (Limnodromus semipalmatus) was recorded for the first time in Hainan Island. The endangered black-faced spoonbill (Platalea minor) occurred at the study sites from September to April. The highest number (75) of this species was observed in Beili Bay in December while the largest flock (9 individuals) was present in Houshui Bay in January and February. The Shannon-Wiener index and Pielou index were higher in Beili Bay than in Houshui Bay. Differences in area and habitat heterogeneity between the two sites probably affected observed variation of waterbird community structure. Human disturbance might be an important factor altering wintering habitat of black-faced spoonbill. The results suggest that Beili and Houshui Bays are important wintering site of many waterbirds, particularly black-faced spoonbill; long-term monitoring and conservation programs should be considered.

    Diversity of ants in subtropical evergreen broadleaved forest in Pu’er City, Yunnan
    Qiao Li, Youqing Chen, Siming Wang, Yong Zheng, Yunhui Zhu, Shaoyun Wang
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (3):  233-239.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.09035
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    In order to get the basic information about ants and give some suggestions for the local biodiversity conservation, we studied the diversity of ant communities on the ground and in the tree, shrub and herb layers in Castanopsis echidnocarpa + Lithocarpus fenestratus + Schima wallichiiCommunity (I), Pinus kesiyavar. langbianensis + Castanopsis fleuryi + Schima wallichii Community (II), Phoebe lanceolata + Lithocarpus grandifolius + Castanopsis echidnocarpa Community (III), Betula alnoides + Schima wallichii Community (IV) and artificial vegetation (V) in Pu’er City, Yunnan Province. 4,660 ground-dwelling ants were collected by pitfall trapping, representing 61 species in 7 subfamilies of Formicidae, and 1,403 ants in the tree-shrub-herb layer were captured by shaking-off and sweep netting collection, representing 92 species in 6 subfamilies. In the five sample plots, ground-dwelling ant species richness ranked as III>II>IV>V>I, and species diversity ranked III>IV>V>I>II. In the tree-shrub-herb layer, ant species richness ranked II>I>III>IV>V, and species diversity ranked III>I>II>IV>V. Among the five sample plots, Jaccard coefficients (q) of ant communities ranged from 0.217 to 0.488, showing that the ant communities were moderately dissimilar. Pinus kesiyavar. langbianensis + Castanopsis fleuryi + Schima wallichii Community was heavily disturbed and need to be protected. Community III had the highest diversity. Ground ants could indicate the disturbance state of the plant communities, while ants in the tree-shrub-herb layer appeared to be good indicators for plant diversity.

    Genetic diversity of 23 Chinese indigenous horse breeds revealed by microsatellite markers
    Yinghui Ling, Yuejiao Cheng, Yanping Wang, Weijun Guan, Jianlin Han, Baoling Fu, Qianjun Zhao, Xiaohong He, Yabin Pu, Yuehui Ma
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (3):  240-247.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08346
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    In order to investigate the genetic differentiation, we studied the genetic structure and genetic variation of 23 Chinese indigenous horse breeds and one thoroughbred horse population using 25 microsatellite markers. The number of alleles, polymorphism information content (PIC) and heterozygosity showed that genetic diversity in Chinese horses was higher than the thoroughbred horse. Neighbour-joining (NJ) dendrogram clustered Chinese horse populations and the thoroughbred horse into different groups. Furthermore, Chinese horse populations were grouped into several different phylogenetic clusters which corresponded to the geographic regions. Cluster analysis was performed by the Multivariate Statistical Package (MVSP), demonstrating that thoroughbred horse was discriminated from all the studied populations based on the three-dimensional scatter plot for the first three factors. Two-dimensional scatter plot for the first two principal factors divided Chinese horse populations into five groups: southern China, Tibet, Xinjiang and Qinghai, Inner Mongolia, and Northeast China. Genetic structure revealed by the software package Structure 2.2 displayed five potential elementary genetic groups in Chinese modern horses.

    Special Issue
    Single nucleotide polymorphisms in chicken genomic pre-microRNA
    Liying Geng, Chuansheng Zhang, Lixin Du
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (3):  248-256.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08316
    Abstract ( 2912 )   HTML ( 0 )   PDF (355KB) ( 3302 )   Save
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    The level of SNPs in chicken pre-microRNAs was studied to gain insight into the potential functional significance of the SNPs located in different domains of pre-microRNA. We conducted a bioinformatic survey of chicken SNPs in 471 pre-microRNAs, together with their flanking regions. The SNP density in pre-microRNA regions was significantly lower in the flanking regions (P<0.01=. The SNPs in the Seed regions showed greater effects on the stability of the pre-microRNA secondary structure than those SNPs in other regions did. The SNPs in the mature microRNA regions also appeared to influence target selection of the microRNA. The pre-microRNA regions may have endured more selective pressure than their flanking regions in the course of molecular evolution. It is possible that SNPs located in mature regions of microRNA are capable of modifying a number of biological processes by influencing the processing and target selection of microRNAs. This may contribute to the phenotypic variability observed among chickens. The findings reported here may provide reference information regarding the evolutionary patterns of microRNAs in chicken and may also aid in the identification of functional SNPs in microRNAs.

    Economic value evaluation of conserving the rare and endangered species affected by the Three Gorges Project
    Jianhong Xiao, Min Wang, Guoqing Shi, Qingdong Yu, Chunmei Mao, Dongjing Chen
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (3):  257-265.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08311
    Abstract ( 3199 )   HTML ( 2 )   PDF (315KB) ( 2889 )   Save
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    We designed the payment card questionnaires to survey the willingness to pay (WTP) of people using the contingent valuation method (CVM), in an attempt to evaluate the economic values of conserving the rare and endangered species influenced by the Three Gorges Project (TGP), including Lipotes vexillifer,Psephurus gladius,Acipenser dabryanus,Myxocyprinus asiaticus,Acipenser sinensis,Adiantum reniformevar. sinense,Myricaria laxiflora and Chuanminshen violaceum. The employees in the state-owned units and other companies from 31 provinces/autonomous regions were surveyed. A total of 1,036 valid surveys were collected in June 2008. The result indicated that 70.08% of the respondents were willing to pay for the conservation of the rare and endangered species. The average WTP bids of all the respondents were 127.82 RMB yuan per year. We also analyzed the correlation between the respondents’ characteristics and their WTP bids using the contingency table and the Chi-square test for independence. The results indicated that WTP bids were mainly affected by age, education level, profession, personal income, the awareness of TGP, the attention paid to TGP, and the knowledge of the influence of TGP on the rare and endangered species. In conclusion, the economic values of conserving the rare and endangered species affected by TGP is 82.19×108RMB yuan per year. This study may provide basic information for the further policy-making of the conservation of the species in the Three Gorges area.

    Effects of sampling scale on latitudinal patterns of species diversity in seed plants in northwestern Yunnan, China
    Jianmeng Feng, Xiaodong Dong, Chengdong Xu, Fengshu Zha
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (3):  266-271.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08265
    Abstract ( 3253 )   HTML ( 1 )   PDF (406KB) ( 3108 )   Save
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    Different latitudinal patterns of species diversity were given in previous studies and therefore mechanisms have been put forward to explain these patterns. However, there were significant discrepancies among related case studies. To test the effects of sampling scale on interpreting these discrepancies, we explored latitudinal patterns of species diversity at regional and community scales in northwestern Yunnan. Based on literature data as well as our field investigations, community and regional datasets were established, including the species richness of 68 plots at the community scale and that of seed plants in 26 counties at the regional scale, respectively. Based on these two datasets, the relationship between species richness and altitudinal gradient, as well as climatic and geographical factors, was analyzed using bivariate correlations analysis and stepwise regression. Our results showed that plant species diversity decreased with increasing latitude at the community scale, which was mainly correlated with the thermal factor. Contrarily, an increasing trend was observed with the increase of latitude at the regional scale, which was mainly due to altitude difference per unit of area. The results demonstrate the influence of sampling scales on the estimation of plant species diversity distribution. In conclusion, when determining the hotspots of plant diversity in northwestern Yunnan, we should analyze the data collected at different sampling scales to eliminate blind spots in biodiversity protection.

    The spatial pattern of species richness and diversity centers of gymnosperm in China
    Guo Li, Zehao Shen, Tsunshen Ying, Jingyun Fang
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (3):  272-279.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08327
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    China has the richest flora of gymnosperm in the world, which is crucial for understanding the change of global distribution and phylogeny of gymnosperm. We mapped the geographical range of 202 native gymnosperm species in China with records of altitudinal range and horizontal distribution at the county level, and explored the spatial distribution characteristics of Chinese gymnosperm at the family, genus and species levels. The uniqueness and similarity among the richness centers were analyzed with respect to their gymnosperm family and genus composition, and the endemism. Generally, Chinese gymnosperm shows a decreasing trend of richness from south to north. The richness is high in mountainous areas and low in large plains and on large plateaus. From the species, genus to family levels, the area with high gymnosperm richness increases, and the center with high richness shifts southward. About 85% of all Chinese gymnosperm species are harbored in just 5% of Chinese land area. We classified these regions into six richness centers: (1) Eastern Himalaya-Hengduan Mountains-Qinling Mountains; (2) joint area of Yunnan-Guizhou-Guangxi and the South Mountain Ranges; (3) central China mountains; (4) Huangshan-Wuyi Mountains; (5) southern mountains of Hainan Island; and (6) central part of Changbai Mountains. The floristic relationship of gymnosperm among the centers is obviously related with their geographic location, and the effect of isolation by distance. Among the six centers, Hengduan Mountains is a major variation center of gymnosperm in China.

    The in situconservation of state key protected wild plants in national nature reserves in China
    Hu Yuan, Yinbo Zhang, Haining Qin, Yan Liu, Mei Yu
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (3):  280-287.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08293
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    In situ conservation, that is, the establishment of nature reserves, is the best means to protect rare and endangered wild plants. By collecting and analyzing the distribution information on state key protected wild plants, we investigated the protected conditions of these species within the national natural reserves as of 2008 based on the data available in China. The results indicated that totally 237 state key protected wild plant species (including varieties) have been protected in the national natural reserve system, accounting for 80.07% of the total amount and including 56 species listed in Class I. At the provincial level, national nature reserves in Yunnan, Guangxi, Sichuan, Guizhou and Hunan provinces contributed the most to the protection of state key protected wild plants. We also determined the major distribution areas of these protected wild plants and pointed out the hot spots for in situ conservation by analyzing distribution conditions of protected plants unprotected by national nature reserves in provinces.

    Diversity of culturable halophilic bacteria isolated from Lop Nur region in Xinjiang
    Ming Luo, Jian Han, Pingan Jiang, Hongqi Wu
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (3):  288-295.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08251
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    We investigated the community structure and diversity of the culturable halophilic bacteria in Lop Nur, Xinjiang using amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis (ARDRA). Restriction enzyme HinfI was applied in ARDRA of 108 halophilic bacterial strains, and 12 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) were assigned on the basis of the ARDRA patterns. Each OTU was randomly chosen for 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The phylogenetic analysis on the basis of 16S rRNA gene homology showed that all isolates affiliated to nine genera, consisting of Halobacillus, Bacillus, Brevibacterium, Halomonas, Chromohalobacter, Salinicoccus, Kocuria, Staphylococcus, Micrococcus, and a possible novel taxon. Halomonas strains dominanted among the isolates, and followed by Chromohalobacter and Halobacillus members. The strains of Halomonas were performed ERIC-PCR (enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus-PCR) analysis, and 21 ERIC-PCR fingerprinting types were determined. The results suggest that the halophilic bacteria are abundant, and some unknown taxa can exist in Lop Nur.

    Genetic diversity in natural populations of Castanea mollissima inferred from nuclear SSR markers
    Hua Tian, Ming Kang, Li Li, Xiaohong Yao, Hongwen Huang
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (3):  296-302.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.09043
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    Genetic diversity and population structure of 28 natural populations of Castanea mollissima were investigated by using microsatellite markers. A total of 128 alleles were identified in 849 individuals across the eight microsatellites analysed, with a mean value of 16 alleles per locus. The mean expected heterozygosity (HE) and observed heterozygosity (HO) across all populations were 0.678 and 0.590, respectively, and a higher level of diversity was found in populations from central China (A= 8.112, HE= 0.705, HO= 0.618) than those from other three regions (eastern, southwestern and northwestern China). Indices of genetic differentiation based on stepwise mutation model (SMM) and infinite allele model (IAM) were RST= 0.208 and FST= 0.120, respectively. No significant association between genetic distance and geographic distance was detected by Mantel test, suggesting gene flow is not a dominant factor shaping genetic structure of the species. The central China, particularly the area around the Shengnongjia Mountains, can be recognized as a modern center of genetic diversity of C. mollissima. Thus, natural populations of the species in this region deserve prior conservation and utilization for breeding programmes.

    Community pattern and diversity of macrozoobenthos in an intertidal flat, Jiaojiang Estuary
    Yongqiang Zhao, Jiangning Zeng, Aigen Gao, Quanzhen Chen, Yibo Liao, Lu Shou
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (3):  303-309.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08339
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    In order to understand the community pattern and diversity of macrozoobenthos in an intertidal flat of the Jiaojiang Estuary, and to reveal the response of macrozoobenthos to environmental change, we designed six intertidal sampling transects along the banks of the Jiaojiang Estuary, in October 2007, January, April, and July 2008, respectively. Temporal and spatial variation of species composition, density, and biomass of macrozoobenthos were recorded and analyzed; furthermore, α, β and γ diversity indices were applied to measure the biodiversity of macrozoobenthos in the study area. The response of macrozoobenthos to environmental change was also studied. The main results were as follows: (1) A total of 78 macrozoobenthos species were recorded. There was a significant seasonal variation of macrozoobenthos species. Besides, the species number has an increasing trend from river to sea in both banks. (2) Macrozoobenthos density demonstrated insignificant seasonal variation but significant spatial variation, whereas biomass did not vary significantly both seasonally and spatially. (3) β and γ biodiversity indices showed that the environment was changable and the community pattern and biotope of macrozoobenthos were diversified.

    Effectiveness of releasing artificially-bred Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) into the wild in Zhangjiajie, Hunan
    Qinghua Luo, Ying Liu, Liyun Zhang
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (3):  310-317.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.09041
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    Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) is a native amphibian to China. It was listed as a Class II protected wildlife species under the state conservation law largely due to its sharply declined population size in the past two decades. Habitat destruction, habitat degradation and human over-exploitation have been considered as the primary causes of the declination. Designed to boost the wild population, a captive breeding program has been successfully established and artificially bred individuals have been released into the wild for many times in the Hunan Zhangjiajie Giant Salamander National Nature Reserve between 2002 and 2008. In 2007 and 2008, we examined these released salamanders to evaluate the effectiveness of the release. We also investigated covert, water quality and food organisms of the releasing sites to explore factors that may determine the success of release. A total of 995 different sized salamanders were identified as 11 cohorts at nine releasing sites. However, only four cohorts were identified as successful in terms of wild population size increase. In all successful sites, released salamanders were mature, weighing 1-4.5 kg, and sex ratios were between 1:1 and 1:1.5. Moreover, some protection measures were taken including food supplementation in these sites. Most releasing sites appeared to satisfy the demands for growth and reproduction of the salamander, however, most releases failed to boost the wild populations likely due to the limitation of the factors such as water quality, food organisms and safety. In conclusion, habitat traits of releasing sites and subsequent management measures, as well as individual size of salamanders were the major factors affecting the releasing effectiveness. In view of the habit of the salamanders, it is better to select mature salamanders for release in spring.

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