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Table of Content
    Volume 17 Issue 1
    20 January 2009

    The Qingling Mountains is one of the important habitats for giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) in China. Bashania fargesii and Fargesia qinlingensis are giant panda’s main food resources in this area. Based on the permanent B. fargesii plot surveys in Foping National Nature Reserve in Shaanxi, Lu et al. examined spatial-temporal patterns of B. fargesii new shoots and giant panda herbivory to evaluate giant panda habitat quality. For details see pages 1–9 of this issue. (Photographed by Yange Yong)

    Spatial-temporal patterns of Bashania fargesii bamboo shoot emergence and giant panda herbivory
    Zhijun Lu, Wei Wang, Wenhui Zhang, Hong Li, Qing Cao, Gaodi Dang, Dong He, Scott Franklin
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (1):  1-9.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08290
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    Bashania fargesii is an important food resource for giant panda in the Qinling Mountains, China, especially in winter and spring when giant panda prefers new shoots. Therefore, regeneration of B. fargesii is a key factor for conservation of the giant panda. B. fargesii regenerates mainly via new shoot recruitment. To identify spatial-temporal patterns of B. fargesii new shoot emergence and giant panda herbivory as well as spatial and quantitative associations between them, we established one 40 m×40 m permanent plot in Foping National Nature Reserve, and investigated new shoots of B. fargesii and giant panda herbivory from 2002 to 2008 (except 2007). Results of univariate and bivariate Ripley’s K function demonstrated that new shoots of B. fargesii were aggregated in the plot, maybe due to clonal growth, resource heterogeneity, and giant panda herbivory and trampling. Giant panda herbivory was also clumped at most scales from 0 m to 20 m. This pattern may be explained by spatial patterns of a restricted food resource (B. fargesii new shoots), giant pandas’ herbivory habits, and topography of the forging sites. Giant panda herbivory was significantly spatially correlated to B. fargesii new shoots, confirming the importance of B. fargesii as an important food resource for giant panda in the Qinling Mountains. Regression analysis revealed no relationship between giant panda herbivory intensity (percentage of eaten shoots in the plot) and B. fargesii new shoot density, possibly indicating the existence of other bamboos as a food source for giant panda, suggesting a partial dependence of giant panda on B. fargesii.

    Impacts of spatio-temporal changes in agricultural land on giant panda habitat: A case study in the Baicaohe watershed of the mid-Minshan Mountains
    Xuezhi Wang, Weihua Xu, Zhiyun Ouyang
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (1):  10-18.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08225
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    The mid-Minshan Mountains is one of the regions encompassing the most densely populations of giant pandas in China. Increasing agricultural activities in the area, involving deforestation and herbal medicine cultivation may negatively influence the giant panda and its habitat. To understand spatio-temporal changes in agricultural land and its impact on giant panda habitat, we conducted this study, using a combination of remote sensing, GIS spatial analysis and field surveys, in the Baicaohe watershed of the mid-Minshan Mountains, Sichuan. Agricultural land was mainly distributed below 1,700 m elevation, and its total area first decreased and then increased between 1994 and 2008. Area of agricultural land decreased below 1,700 m between 1994 and 2001, but it increased in higher-elevation areas surrounding the nature reserves between 2001 and 2008. Expansion of agricultural land directly caused a loss of 5,281 hm2 (6.46%) of giant panda habitat between 1994 and 2008. As negligible amounts of habitat affected inside the reserves, 21.53% of habitat outside the nature reserves were destroyed. To protect giant panda habitat in this region, not only agricultural cultivation should be prohibited in high-elevation zones adjacent to the nature reserves, but also, habitat outside the nature reserves should be protected as well as inside.

    The avifauna in summer and autumn on the south slope of Taibai Mountain
    Xuebin Gao, Hongfeng Zhao, Lei Luo, Yubao Hou, Jun’an Li
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (1):  19-29.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08157
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    Taibai Mountain, located in southwestern Shaanxi, is a major summit in the Qinling Mountains of central China. To analyze changes to its avifauna over the past 20 years, we performed bird surveys from May to July (summer) and from September to October (autumn) in 2007 on the south slope of Taibai Mountain. Based on elevation and vegetation, five habitat types were categorized (afforested area, broadleaved forest, broadleaved coniferous mixed forest, coniferous forest, and alpine meadow), and characteristic sample area were selected within each habitat type. Birds were counted in each sample area using line transects. The relative density of species was calculated and ranked based on the relative abundance and estimated area, and dominant and common bird species in each habitat type were defined according to ranks of species density. We recorded a total of 122 bird species, including 85 residents, 31 summer breeding migrant, 1 winter migrant and 5 passing migrant. Species richness, relative abundance, and identity of dominant and common species varied across habitat types. Even within a given habitat type, bird species diversity and the identity of dominant and common species exhibited obvious seasonal changes. In the afforested area, 60 species were recorded in summer, of which two tits Parus monticolus and P. venustulus and a warbler Phylloscopus reguloides were dominant species. In autumn 59 species were recorded, of which the tit Parus major was dominant. In the broadleaved forest, 40 species were recorded in summer of which the tits Parus monticolus, P. venustulus and the warbler Cettia flavolivaceus dominated, and 37 species were recorded in autumn with the tits Parus venustulus, P. rubidiventris and Aegithalos fuliginosus being dominant. In the broadleaved coniferous mixed forest, 46 species were recorded in summer of which the warblers Phylloscopus borealis, P. proregulus and the tit Parus rubidiventris were dominant, and 37 species were recorded in autumn with the minivet Pericrocotus ethologus, the tits Parus dichrous and P. rubidiventris dominating. In the coniferous forest, 36 species were recorded in summer with the warbler Phylloscopus proregulus and the tit P. rubidiventris being dominant and 27 species were recorded in autumn of which the tit P. rubidiventris and the pheasant Ithaginis cruentus were dominant. In alpine meadows, 7 species were recorded in summer and 7 species in autumn. Species seasonal turnover rates and bird species richness decreased with increasing elevation. Bird species diversity was highly similar between the north and south slope. Based on the comparison between current and historical data, our results indicate obvious changes of bird diversity on Taibai Mountain in 20 years, though the composition of dominant and common species in each habitat is similar.

    Composition and spatial distribution pattern of ground-dwelling beetle communities in Yeyahu Wetland, Beijing
    Yu Wang, Guangcai Gao, Biqian Fu, Zhuan Wu
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (1):  30-42.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08161
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    In this paper, ground-dwelling beetle communities (GDBCs) from 32 sampling sites with five main vegetation types, two well-conserved ones and three degradated ones, were investigated in Yeyahu Wetland of Beijing by pitfall traps from April to December, 2007, and the influence of wetland degradation and vegetation variation on the composition of GDBCs was studied at the family level. A total of 42 families were collected in the whole sampling period. Among these, Carabidae and Staphylinidae were dominant, while Anthicidae, Eumolpidae and Lathridiidae were subdominant. In the five types of vegetation investigated, the activity density, family level richness and the Shannon-Wiener diversity index (H') of GDBCs were not significantly different between the well-conserved Phragmites communis and Cyperus glomeratus ones. However, the beetle activity density in these two well-conserved vegetations, and the family richness in the Cyperus glomeratus one were significantly higher than those of the three degradated ones. It was showed by canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) to the relationship between the composition of GDBCs and nine environmental factors, that there was an obviously correspondance between the distribution of the 32 sampling sites in CCA ordination diagram and the vegetation types, and soil water content, plant coverage, plant biomass, and litter coverage were the major factors affecting on the composition and spatial distribution of GDBCs in the wetland. According to the correlation analysis, we also found that the correlation among beetle activity density and the soil water content, plant biomass and coverage was all significantly positive (P<0.05 or P<0.01), and it was between beetle family richness and plant biomass (P<0.05); while that between the beetle diversity index (H') and plant coverage was significantly negative (P<0.01). Moreover, in a nonlinear regression analysis, the change of soil water content could explain about 57% of the variation in beetle activity density. A synthetic environmental variable, WBC (Water-Biomass-Coverage), which reflects the situation of soil water content, plant biomass and coverage, was obtained by principal component analysis (PCA) of the nine environmental factors. On the basis of relationship between beetle activity density and WBC, the five vegetation types could be divided into three extremely different groups. Our results showed that maintaining appropriate wetland landscapes is vital for beetle protection.

    Multiple-scale spatial analysis of community structure in a mountainous mixed evergreen-deciduous broad-leaved forest, southwest China
    Anjiu Zhao, Tingxing Hu, Xiaohong Chen
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (1):  43-50.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08148
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    To investigate the spatial-dependence of heterogeneity at multiple scales for a community, we selected a representative plot of 100 m × 100 m in the mountainous evergreen and deciduous mixed broad-leaved forest in Sichuan, southwest China (102°50´E, 30°02´N). The location of every tree was mapped by compass, and all-scale analysis of spatial structure of forest community was conducted by the method of PCNM (principal coordinates of neighbor matrices). The results showed that Pielou evenness index, gap-fraction, openness, stand basal area, and stand density were influenced by spatial structure of the community at a broad scale. At the same time Pielou evenness index was impacted significantly by stand density, direct radiation, and leaf area index at all scales, while soil organic matter contents were markedly influenced by stand density, biomass, direct radiation, and gap-fraction at each scale. It could be concluded that community structure and environmental factors are markedly influenced by spatial sampling procedures. Our results highlighted that PCNM analysis could achieve a spectral decomposition vector of the spatial relationships among sampling sites, and that the significant PCNM variables could be directly interpreted in terms of spatial scales, or including variation decomposition with respect to spatial and environmental components. Canonical correlation analysis also indicated that forest community structure variables were correlated significantly with light factors, and both were interacted with each other and correlated well with PCNM variables. Therefore, the method of PCNM could help to understand the scale-dependence of heterogeneity at the community level.

    Community characteristics of Arabidopsis thaliana natural populations in the northern Tianshan Mountains along with relevant environmental factors
    Ye Tao, Dan Wang, Tong Liu, Chengguo Jiang, Wei Zhai, Yongguan Li, Cheng Tang
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (1):  51-61.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08169
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    Arabidopsis thaliana is a model organism widely-used to study molecular and developmental biology, physiology and cell biology. The Tianshan Mountains is one of the main distribution regions of A. thaliana. To evaluate the distribution and the environmental stress of A. thaliana in arid land, we characterized A. thaliana communities in the northern Tianshan Mountains along with relevant environmental factors. Eight communities found in the middle Tianshan Mountains were herb types and their dominant species were similar, but another five communities distributed in the western Tianshans and Altai region were markedly different. The recorded 77 species were classified into 22 families and 64 genera, and species richness of the 13 communities was relatively low. Most species belonged to Cosmopolitan (areal-type 1), North Temperate (areal-type 8), Mediterranean, and West Asia to Central Asia (areal-type 12) areal-types, reflecting the arid and semi-arid geographical features of the area. Based on the Two-Way Indicator Species Analysis (TWINSPAN) method, the 13 communities were classified into five hierarchical levels: Seriphidium kaschgaricum-Salsola collina-Ceratocephalus testiculatus, S. kaschgaricum-S. collina, S. kaschgaricum-Lappula semiglabra, S. kaschgaricum-Eremopyrum triticeum, and Myosotis sylvatica-Cyperus microiria. Interspecific association analysis showed that among 62 main species in the 13 communities, 119 species-pairs exhibited significant a positive association; more than the 72 species-pairs with a negative association. In particular, A. thaliana showed a statistically significant, positive association with the dominant species in each community, indicating a strong positive dependence of A. thaliana with other species. Detrended Canonical Correspondence Analysis (DCCA) showed that longitude, topography, soil organic matter and pH were the dominant factors affecting the distribution of A. thaliana populations in the northern Tianshan Mountains. Abundance and distribution of species differed among communities. Populations were more prevalent in the middle northern Tianshan Mountains with lower rainfall than in the western Tianshan Mountains. Further research is needed to explain whether there is the adaptive differentiation.

    Bioecological characteristics and endangerment mechanisms of Neocheiropteris palmatopedata, an endangered plant endemic to China
    Yani Deng, Xiao Cheng, Yu Jiao, Guiju Chen
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (1):  62-68.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08160
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    Neocheiropteris palmatopedata, a rare and endangered species endemic to China, has a scattered distribution only in Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces. Declining rapidly in population size and on the verge of extinction, it was listed as a plant of second-class protection in The List of Chinese Urgently Protected Wild Plants. To explore endangerment mechanisms of N. palmatopedata, we investigated its population and community structure, germination and growth characteristics as well as soil properties of its habitat. Our results indicated that N. palmatopedata grew in primary evergreen broad-leaved, and mixed coniferous-broad-leaved forests. It was dominated by other species in the community. Spores germinated without a dormancy period and the germination rate was high, indicating that spore characteristics are not a factor causing its endangerment. However, N. palmatopedata required a long period of time to complete its life cycle under natural conditions. During this period, it was vulnerable to stochastic events such as drought, causing a low seedling survival rate. Although the species shows strong rhizome initiation, population growth is not affected by rhizome propagation. Soil property analysis showed that organic matter, potent Ca and availability of Mg were key factors for growth and development of N. palmatopedata. In conclusion, narrow bioecological characteristics led to lowered survivorship and contribute to the endangerment of N. palmatopedata. Human-induced habitat loss and accompanying habitat fragmentation likely accelerated the endangerment process. Our results could provide a theoretical basis for the effective protection of this species.

    Genetic diversity in rhizobia isolated from Sphaerophysa salsula in several regions of northwestern China
    Lin Xu, Jiajie Xu, Qiaoli Liu, Ruimei Xie, Gehong Wei
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (1):  69-75.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08218
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    Sphaerophysa salsula is a highly nutritive and drought-tolerant perennial grass distributed in mid-Asia and northwestern China. This legume plant is highly prized for the revegetation of drought and high alkali soils. Our objective was to better understand the diversity and phylogeny of rhizobia collected from nodules of Sphaerophsa salsula in different regions of northwestern China. We estimated genetic diversity using 16S rDNA PCR-RFLP and 16S rDNA sequencing. Nine genotypes were tested from 57 strains. 16S rDNA sequencing revealed that these rhizobial strains belonged to the following genera: Mesorhizobium, Rhizobium, Sinorhizobium, Agrobacterium, Phyllobacterium and Shinella kummerowiae. The Jaccard similarity coefficient of the strains from Yinchuan was low while the strains isolated from Minle and Linze had rich diversity, with Simpson indices of 0.826 and 0.710, respectively, and Shannon-Wiener indices of 1.831 and 1.530, respectively. This study provides basic information for the phylogeny of rhizobia in northwestern China.

    Research Brief
    Fish species composition and diversity of Yangtze River estuarine wetlands
    Heng Zhang, Guoping Zhu, Jianjian Lu
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (1):  76-81.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08140
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    To explore the status and dynamics of fish species composition, we surveyed fish at 33 sampling stations using several net types in wetlands of the Yangtze River estuary between 2004 and 2007. A total of 123 fish species were collected, belonging to 46 families, 18 orders and 1 class. A historical dataset showed 208 fish species in 67 families, 22 orders and 2 classes. Elops saurus and Sardinella sindensis were two newly-recorded species in the area. The fish fauna was mainly comprised of Cypriniformes and Perciformes, and freshwater ecological guilds. Species composition varied among the southern branch, northern branch and the estuarine mouth. The dominant species in the southern branch belonged to Cypriniformes, while those in the northern branch and the estuarine mouth both belonged to Perciformes. Compared to the pre-1990 survey, we found that diversity of fish species in the study area deceased to some extent, especially species in Cartilaginous or Tetraodontidae families. Some important commercial fishes, such as Tenualosa reevesii, Hemisalanx prognathus, and Takifugu obscurus, had become uncommon or rare species. Reasons for such decrease may lay on overfishing, water pollution and habitat loss, etc.

    Genetic diversity based on microsatellite markers in five Nile tilapia strains
    Hongwei Liang, Zhong Li, Xiangzhong Luo, Changzhong Wang, Guangfu Hu, Guiwei Zou, Yongquan Yang
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (1):  82-87.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08266
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    To provide background on the genetics of cultured Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) strains and basic information for breeding, we surveyed five Nile tilapia strains (Sudan, Taiwan, GIFT, SupermaleⅠand Supermale Ⅱ) using 19 microsatellite loci to estimate the genetic variation. A total of 113 alleles were detected. Mean expected heterozygosity (He) ranged between 0.578 and 0.692, and mean polymorphism information content (PIC) ranged between 0.473 and 0.628, indicating that these five Nile tilapia strains were genetically diverse. Of the five strains, the supermaleⅠhad less genetic variation compared with other strains.

    Responses of alpine biodiversity to climate change
    Yang Liu, Jian Zhang, Wanqin Yang
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (1):  88-96.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08197
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    The alpine belt is the temperature-driven treeless region between the timberline and the snowline. Alpine belts are ideal sites for monitoring climate change because species in mountain habitats are especially sensitive to climate change. Global warming is shifting the distribution of alpine biodiversity and is leading to glacial retreat, implying that alterations in alpine biodiversity are indicators of climate change. Therefore, more attention has been given to changes in species composition and ecosystem structure, species distribution patterns and suitable habitats, timberline ecotone shifts, and interspecific relationships. In particular, the combined effects of climate change and human disturbance have increased uncertainty in predicting changes to alpine biodiversity in the context of the future climate change. At the same time, climate change effects on alpine biodiversity will likely be more important relative to other natural and social factors in the long term. We suggest that key research fields will include alpine biodiversity responses to extreme climate change, relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem processes, the interaction between above- and below-ground biodiversity in the context of climate change, and the combined effects of climate change and human disturbance on alpine biodiversity patterns.

    Dynamics in international implementation of the Convention on Biological diversity
    Yi Huang, Weishuang Zheng
    Biodiv Sci. 2009, 17 (1):  97-105.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2009.08202
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    The implementation of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) is a dynamic and reactive process that focuses on efficiency. The process has three essential components, i.e. the vicissitude of issues for in-depth consideration, group alliance, and reactions of parties at the national level. These components are related to each other through a feedback mechanism to modify the CBD. The issues for in-depth consideration are the core of the Conference of the Parties (COP), because the decisions reached from the discussion of these issues will lead to changes in the CBD organization, implementation of the strategies and plan, and group alliance. At the international level, interest group’s re-alliance occurs in response to new decisions from COP; correspondingly, groups actively raise issues beneficial to themselves in order to influence the development of CBD. Thus, disagreement among groups is one of the obstacles to the improvement of CBD. At the national level, countries implement CBD by adjusting their relative implementary priorities of the CBD articles in consequence to the new decisions made by COP. Analysis showed that different countries set up different priorities based on their own situation. China assigned highest priority to all the CBD articles which had led to low efficiency in the implementation. Based on this analysis, suggestions and recommendations are provided to promote China’s performance in fulfilling CBD.

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