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Table of Content
    Volume 17 Issue 2
    20 March 2009

    There are two sets of stamens differing markedly in shape, size and color in Melastoma malabathricum flowers. The yellow anthers function to attract pollinators and satisfy their demand for pollen as food, and the purple anthers satisfy plant’s need for safe gamete dispersal. However, there are no physiological differentiation between two sets of stamens. For details see pages 174–181 of this issue. (Photographer: Yingqiang Wang)

    Status quo, challenges and strategy in Conservation Biology
    Zhigang Jiang, Keping Ma
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (2):  107-116.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08279
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    Research on hot environmental issues in modern society stimulates the growth of Conservation Biology. A new trend is that traditional social sciences are merging with Conservation Biology, which marks the birth of the Conservation Science. Conservation Biology has a mission that needs extensive participation, however, Internet users in China showed little interests in the concepts of conservation biology and biodiversity according to the Google Search. Developing countries have major share of world biodiversity and many key conservation biology projects are also carried out in developing countries as well; however scientific expending restricted the output of papers in developing countries. Up to now, Chinese authors (including those foreign authors who work in China for international NGOs) so far only published less than 150 papers in major conservation journals indexed in ISI Web of Knowledge; such a proportion is not matched with the share of the China’s biodiversity in the world. Conservation Biology confronts a series of challenges: (1) people criticized that Conservation Biology researches overemphasized monetary value; (2) Conservation Biology is confronted with the pitfalls such as: lack of exploration in underlying mechanism, too few or no field experiment, no control experiment in field; consequently the theoretic frame of the science branch is not yet sound; (3) Conservation Biology is a science that involves spatial scale; (4) a great deal of Conservation Biology data has not been published; the “grey” literature and “grey” information hindered the further development of Conservation Biology; and (5) Biodiversity related international laws are new research domains for Conservation Biology. We recommend the following strategies to counter the challenges: (1) to study the value orientation of Conservation Biology; (2) to establish the research methodology and theoretic frame for Conservation Biology; (3) to explore the spatial problems in Conservation Biology; (4) to collect, to store, to analyze and to share information, especially those “grey” information existing in informal publication, in languages other than English, and the information not yet accessible to public, and to establish raw biodiversity database which is independent of the database of peer-reviewed journals; thus to facilitate meta-analyses and meta research in Conservation Biology; and (5) to conduct actively researches for biodiversity related international and domestic laws. Formation of Conservation Biology as a meta-science needs the dedication from researches from all countries. To push some Chinese scientific journals to use English as a media is a main way for the Conservation Biology research in China to merge into the main stream of world.

    A literature review on biotic homogenization
    Guangmei Wang, Jingcheng Yang, Chuangdao Jiang, Hongtao Zhao, Zhidong Zhang
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (2):  117-126.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08273
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    Biotic homogenization is the process whereby the genetic, taxonomic and functional similarity of two or more biotas increases over time. As a new research agenda for conservation biogeography, biotic homogenization has become a rapidly emerging topic of interest in ecology and evolution over the past decade. However, research on this topic is rare in China. Herein, we introduce the development of the concept of biotic homogenization, and then discuss methods to quantify its three components (genetic, taxonomic, and functional homogenization), and their driving mechanisms. Species invasions and extinctions are the root cause of biotic homogenization, whilst other habitat alterations that facilitate these two processes, such as environment degradation and disturbance, urbanization, and habitat homogenization, also influence biotic homogenization. Biotic homogenization was tempo-spatial-scale dependant. The homogenization degree differed between various ecosystems and taxa, as well as in different regions. We also reviewed ecological and evolutionary consequences and effects on human dimension (economics and biodiversity conservation) due to biotic homogenization. Considering the distinctness of China’s biodiversity, we suggest that it is time to strengthen research on biotic homogenization in China. In our view, the most fundamental need is to establish open, reliable databases to foster biotic homogenization research. We hope this review will stimulate biotic homogenization research in China.

    Re-evaluating the character and application of density-group index (DG)
    Chonghui Liao, Jianxiong Li
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (2):  127-134.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08171
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    The DG index is established to evaluate the diversity of soil animal community. The theoretical basis of the DG index is that the non-interference and mutual benefit relationships are stronger than competition among soil animal groups, thus each group considered in the formula is independent. The DG index indicates the abundance and the importance of species implicitly. Since 1990, DG index has been successfully applied in the studies in different geographic locations and ecosystems with different soil animal communities. Compared with Shannon-Wiener diversity index (H'), the community diversity evaluated by the DG index is much more consistent with the actual habitat conditions in most cases. The scenario analysis demonstrates that Shannon-Wiener diversity index (H') may conflict with DG index if the differences in species and evenness are in contrary values (+ vs -) in two communities. We re-evaluated the features of soil animal community diversity and the applications of different indices, and found that it is not suitable to use the evenness as an important index because the homogeneity of quantitative distribution of soil animal community is rare in reality. Although the DG index is simple, it has been tested widely in various situations and holds a good potential as an index of soil animal diversity.

    On concepts and protection of traditional knowledge
    Dayuan Xue, Luo Guo
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (2):  135-142.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08256
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    Recently, traditional knowledge (TK) has attracted increasing attention both domestically and internationally, especially the TK associated with conservation and sustainable use of biological resources; this topic has been included in the Convention on Biological Diversity and other international forums. However, no internationally-recognized definition of traditional knowledge exists. Based on analysis of TK concepts in relevant international conventions and instruments, combined with our current research in ethnic areas of China, we propose the following categories for TK associated with biological resources: (1) use of agricultural species and genetic resources; (2) use of medicinal species; (3) technical innovations for use of biological resources and traditional farming and lifestyle practices; (4) traditional cultures and customary laws related to conservation and sustainable use of biological resources; and (5) traditional local marker products. We present suggestions for how to investigate and document TK in order to foster the transfer, development, protection, and popularization of TK. These suggestions will also help to fairly share the benefits produced from the use of TK with indigenous people and local communities.

    Population genetic structure of tapertail anchovy (Coilia mystus) in coastal waters of southeast China based on mtDNA control region sequences
    Xuelan Yan, Wenqiao Tang, Jinquan Yang*
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (2):  143-150.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08286
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    To analyze the genetic diversity and genetic structure of Coilia mystus, 65 individuals were sampled from four localities, including the Minjiang (MJ), Jiulongjiang (JL), Yangtze (CJ) and Qiantang rivers (QT). Mitochondrial DNA variation was analyzed using 561 bp segments of control region, among which 28 haplotypes were detected. The CJ population had the highest nucleotide diversity (0.0080 ± 0.0046) while the MJ population had the lowest (0.0015 ± 0.0013). Overall haplotype and nucleotide diversity were 0.9433 ± 0.0168 and 0.0317 ± 0.0158, respectively. Average pairwise Kimura 2-parameter distances between MJ and JL and between CJ and QT were 0.3% and 0.8%, respectively, while those between MJ and JL as well between CJ and QT were 6%. Phylogenetic trees constructed using maximum likelihood (ML), maximum parsimony (MP) and neighbor-joining (NJ) methods showed similar topology with two well-supported monophyletic groups. The haplotypes from MJ and JL formed a monophyletic group sister to that comprising the haplotypes of CJ and QT. This interrelationship was supported by network analysis with 28 mutation steps between the two monophyletic clades. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed that the variation between the MJ-JL and CJ-QT clades accounted for 90.77% of total variation, suggesting that significant geographical division was present. The low level of gene flow (Nm < 0.03) and high population differentiation values (FST > 0.9) of the two clades also showed considerable genetic isolation. Our results suggest that these four C. mystus populations are divided into two geographical units, and that these units might be considered at the subspecies level in terms of genetic data. The molecular clock estimated using BEAST and TRACER softwares indicated that the subdivision of C. mystus occurred in the late Pleistocene (about 0.34-0.46 million years BP). Climatic oscillations and recurrent marine regression during this period may have influenced the geographical isolation and genetic differentiation of C. mystus.

    Temporal and spatial patterns of the ichthyoplankton community in the Yangtze Estuary and its adjacent waters
    Shude Liu, Weiwei Xian
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (2):  151-159.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08194
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    The composition and diversity of ichthyoplankton species in the Yangtze estuary and adjacent waters (30°45′-32°N, 121°-123°20′E) were analyzed based on four seasonal surveys during 2007. A total of 6,463 individuals, representing 12 orders, 28 families and 45 species, were collected. Engraulidae was the most abundant family comprising 76.5% of all teleost fishes. The ichthyoplankton community was composed of four ecological guilds: freshwater (2 species), brackish (14 species), coastal (10 species) and marine (16 species), of which marine species was the most abundant (74.6% of total abundance). Engraulis japonicus, captured every season, contributed most to total ichthyoplanton abundance. Species composition varied between seasons; in spring, Allanetta bleekeri was the dominant species, while in summer E. japonicus dominated, autumn dominant species were E. japonicus and Hemisalanx prognathus. These dominant species contributed more than 89% of total catch in different seasons. Species number, abundance and diversity peaked in summer, were lower in spring and autumn, and were least in winter. These seasonal variations likely resulted from both migration associated with fish spawning and the environment.

    Community traits of soil animal under different ground cover treatments in evergreen broad-leaved forest
    Xiaoniao Chen, Wenhui You, Xiangyang Wang, Lan Yi
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (2):  160-167.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08299
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    To understand the effects of ground cover removal on soil animal communities, we investigated the soil fauna community in an evergreen broad-leaved forest logged four years ago at Tiantong, Zhejiang Province between July, 2007 and April, 2008. We used the five following treatments in five sites: (I) big trees with height>8 m and DBH>5 cm were removed but sprouts retained; (II) ground surface vegetation was removed but litter retained; (III) all vegetation and 0-10 cm topsoil were removed; (IV) undergrowth was removed but big trees retained; and (V) a control plot without any disturbance. Soil animal density only differed between site I and site III (P<0.05). The highest density was found at site I. Species richness of soil animals in the 0-5 cm layer was significantly higher than in the 5-10 cm and 10-15 cm layer (P<0.05). Site II was higher than the other four sites in terms of group richness. Based on the density-group index, diversity was highest at site I and lowest at site III. The density of Collembola, Psocoptera, Pseudoscorpiones and Hemiptera were correlated with changes in the density-group index (P<0.001). Our results indicate ground cover characteristics impact the composition of soil communities; the more intense the disturbance, the greater the influence on soil animals.

    Reproductive strategy and impact on the fig-pollinator mutualism of one non-pollinating fig wasp species
    Zhenji Wang, Fengping Zhang, Yanqiong Peng, Darong Yang
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (2):  168-173.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08341
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    In order to understand the nature and intensity of interactions between non-pollinating fig wasps and fig-pollinator mutualist wasps, and consequently shed light on why they coexist, we studied interactions between Walkerella sp. and the Ficus curtipes fig-pollinator mutualism in Xishuangbanna Botanical Garden in 2008. The reproductive behaviour of Walkerella sp. was studied by means of observation, and a controlled experiment was applied to study interspecies relationships. Figs only with pollinator, figs only with Walkerella sp., figs with both pollinator and Walkerella sp. and natural figs were compared in this research. Walkerella sp. was observed ovipositing on the outside of the fig. One Walkerella sp. can oviposit on many figs. ANOVA showed that the number of pollinator in figs with both pollinator and Walkerella sp. is significantly lower than that in figs only with pollinator (P < 0.01), while the number of seed did not differ between figs with only pollinators and figs with both Walkerella sp. and pollinator (P = 0.33). The number of Walkerella sp. did not differ among figs with only Walkerella sp., figs with both pollinator and Walkerella sp. and natural figs. Our results support the hypothesis that Walkerella sp. affects pollinator number, but not seed number and there is no inquiline or parasitoid affecting the number of Walkerella sp. The requirement of male pollinators to dig a hole in the fig wall may limit the number of Walkerella sp. eggs in the figs.

    Division of labor of heteromorphic stamens in Melastoma malabathricum
    Guohui Lu, Wenhua Wu, Ruizhen Wang, Xinliang Li, Yingqiang Wang
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (2):  174-181.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08317
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    Heteranthery in flowers has often been explained by Darwin’s ‘division-of-labor’ hypothesis. In order to test the hypothesis, we examined pollination pattern and the roles of two dimorphism stamens in pollination in Melastoma malabathricum; this species contains two sets of stamens differing markedly in shape, size and color. We found differences in morphological characters, numbers of pollen grains, seed sets following experimental treatments, with stamens removed and pollinator behaviour between the two types of stamen. The anther of purple stamens contained more pollen grains than that of yellow stamens. Carpenter bees (genus species) alighted only on the yellow stamens, and grasped their five anthers. Flowers that had their yellow stamens removed set significantly fewer seeds than intact flowers. There was no difference in the seed set of flowers with purple stamens removed and intact flowers. These results suggest that the yellow anthers function to attract pollinators and satisfy the insects’ demand for pollen, and the purple anthers satisfy plant’s need for safe gamete dispersal. However, there were no differences in pollen viability, histochemistry, or fruit set between anther type, suggesting the lack of physiological differentiation. Our experimental manipulations also demonstrate the absence of self-pollination and agamospermy in Melastoma malabathricum, and that the breeding system is facultative xenogamy.

    Effects of light, temperature and pH on spore germination and early gametophytic development of Alsophila metteniana
    Honghong Du, Yang Li, Dong Li, Shaojun Dai, Chuangdao Jiang, Lei Shi
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (2):  182-187.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08262
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    Alsophila metteniana is a wild species under second class state protection in China. To explore possible reasons for population declines, we collected spores of A. metteniana from Emei Mountain, Sichuan Province and experimentally cultured them in sterile conditions. We determined the effects of light intensity and quality, temperature, and pH on spore germination rates and early gametophytic development. The optimal light intensity for spore germination and early gametophytic development was 40-70 µmol·m-2·s-1, while spore germination was completely prohibited in darkness. Under the different light spectra tested, viz. white, red, yellow and blue light, spore germination percentages were 68.78%, 65.66%, 63.74% and 7.51%, respectively. When growing under white and blue light, gametophytes developed into normal cordate-shaped prothallus. When growing under red and yellow light, however, gametophytes developed into uniseriate filaments consisting of mostly elongated cells. For spore germination and gametophytic development, the optimal temperature is from 20℃ to 30℃, the suitable pH is from 3.7 to 6.7. The mature prothallus appeared 55 days after spore sowing. We conclude that light intensity was not a major but necessary factor for germination and development of A. metteniana spores, and light quality may be an important factor limiting spore reproduction. In conclusion, long period of gametophytic development and habitat factors such as light quality, temperature, pH may contribute to declines of wild populations.

    Physiological functions of the red leaves of Wedelia trilobata induced by high irradiance in summer
    Liying Song, Lanlan Sun, Zhan Shu, Weihua Li, Changlian Peng
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (2):  188-194.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.09007
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    Wedelia trilobata, a creeping herb native to Central and South America, is one of the world’s 100 worst invasive alien species. It was introduced into South China and has become a noxious invasive weed in agricultural fields, plantations and natural forests. In natural communities, it is observed that the leaves of W. trilobata turn from green to red under high irradiance in summer. The aims of this study were to explore what causes the leaf color change in W. trilobata and what the physiological consequences are. Anthocyanin content was significantly higher in red than in green leaves of W. trilobata, suggesting that the accumulation of anthocyanin at high irradiance was related to the leaf color change. The increased content of anthocyanin contributed to a higher total antioxidant capability in red W. trilobata leaves . Consistent with the higher antioxidant capability, decreases in maximum quantum efficiency of photosystem II photochemistry and the effective PSII quantum yield caused by artificial photo-oxidative stress were respectively smaller in red (28.2% and 79.1%) than in green leaves of W. trilobata (70.9% and 93.8%). Leaf color change was not observed in native W. chinensis. Our results suggest that the color change may be a physiological mechanism employed by the invasive W. trilobata to acclimate to high irradiance in summer.

    Effect of film-mulched treatment on weed diversity in rice field
    Xin Zhao, Chaowen Lin, Mingqiao Xu, Jingjing Huang, Yibing Chen, Chuanren Li, Qingnian Cai
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (2):  195-200.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08349
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    Mulch film is applied to and can greatly increase rice yield in mountainous and hilly areas of Central and Southwest China. Weeds are important pests in rice fields, but little knowledge exists about how mulch film impacts weed diversity in rice fields. Herein, we investigated the composition, density, and diversity of weed communities in film-mulched and conventional rice fields and compared species richness, total and relative densities, and diversity index of weeds between the two planting patterns. Twelve and 14 species of weeds were found in the film-mulched and conventional rice fields, respectively. Of them, Portulaca oleracea, Monochoria, vaginalis, Eulaliopsis binata and Marsilea quadrifolia, which occurred in conventional rice field, did not grow in the film-mulched rice field. Total weed density was suppressed in the film-mulched field compared to conventional rice field. Digitaria sanguinalis, Juncellus serotinus, Oxalis corniculata and Cyperus difformis were the dominant weed species and their relative densities were 18.01-30.46%, 17.22-23.97%, 11.91-45.59% and 10.29-49.26%, respectively. O. corniculata and C. difformis were found in both field types, but their densities were significantly lower in the film-mulched field than in the conventional rice field. D. sanguinalis and J. serotinus were dominant species found exclusively in the film-mulched rice field. In contrast with conventional rice fields, Pielou index was higher in the film-mulched rice field. Shannon and Margalef indices did not differ between planting patterns. Film-mulching was available for controlling weeds in paddy field and may be useful for maintaining weed communities at low levels and thereby avoiding severe weed outbreaks.

    Species composition and synusia structure of ground bryophyte communities under different aged spruce plantations and primary forest in the upper reaches of the Dadu River, Sichuan
    Weikai Bao, Bo Lei, Xueyong Pang, Xiaoli Yan, Yu Jia
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (2):  201-209.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08272
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    To reveal shifts in composition and structure of bryophyte communities in plantation forests at different stages of early development, we sampled five different aged spruce (Picea asperata) plantations with similar topographic situation and one primary Minjiang fir (Abies faxoniana) forest as a control. We investigated species composition and synusia structure. ANOVA was used to test for differences in characteristic parameters among bryophyte communities, and Sørensen similarity coefficients were used to measure variation in β diversity. Plantations had higher bryophyte species richness than the primary forest, and the young plantation (<16 years) had more bryophyte species than the middle-aged ones (21-30 years). Coverage, density, and average height and thickness of bryophytes were greater in the primary forest than in the plantations, While bryophyte coverage and density statistically showed no significant difference (P>0.05) among plantations, but the composition of dominant and subdominant species differed. Common species in both primary and plantation forests included photophilic and drought-tolerant species, and the 4-year old plantation and primary forest shared the highest number of common species (19 species). Twenty-four bryophyte species dwelling in primary forest, except Rhytidium rugosum, were shared among the primary forest and plantations, and species turnover rate (0.24-0.60) was increasing with stand age, indicating that species replacement occurred. Our results suggested that ground disturbance during clear cutting and reforestation should be reduced in order to restoration of species in later successional stage. In addition, suitable thinning application in the 16-20-year-old plantations may be useful when the bryophyte species richness begin to decline.

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