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Table of Content
    Volume 21 Issue 6
    20 November 2013

    Primulina eburea is widely distributed throughout the karst region of southern China. Although occurs in remarkably diverse habitats and niches from steep rocks to cave entrances in karst areas, this species usually shows habitat specialization with calcareous soils. Primulina eburea has excellent resilience to multiple abiotic stresses (e.g. drought and high temperatures) and are highly potential as ornamental plants and traditional medicine. Qi et al. studied the diversity of calcium speciation in leaves of 11 Primulina species (for details see pages 715–722 of this issue). The picture shows the flowering of this species in wild and its typical habitat on limestone bedrock (left corner). (Photographed by Ming Kang).

    Orginal Article
    China grassland biodiversity monitoring network: indicators and implementation plan
    Hongwei Wan, Qingmin Pan, Yongfei Bai
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  639-650.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.12134
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    A biodiversity monitoring network is fundamental to biodiversity research and successful conservation practice. Many developed countries have established national or even continental scale biodiversity monitoring networks, covering a wide range of natural and semi-natural ecosystems. In China, the only biodiversity monitoring network that currently exists is the Chinese Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Network (CForBio,, which was founded in 2004. Grassland ecosystems, which cover 41.7% of the total land area of China, are most sensitive to environmental changes and have long been subject to overgrazing and other human disturbances, resulting in widespread deterioration of biodiversity and ecosystem services. It is essential, therefore, to establish a Chinese grassland biodiversity monitoring network to investigate the current status of Chinese grasslands, the pressure and/or drivers of changes in biodiversity, and to provide guidance on their restoration and conservation practices. Based on the successful experiences of other international biodiversity monitoring networks and the natural grassland conditions in China, we propose a national grassland biodiversity monitoring and research network, which includes the overarching objectives and scientific questions, indicators, methodology issues, and a case study in the Inner Mongolia grassland.

    Minimum plot size for estimating plant biodiversity of the alpine grasslands on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau
    Shikui Dong, Lin Tang, Xuexia Wang, Yinghui Liu, Shiliang Liu, Quanru Liu, Yu Wu, Yuanyuan Li, Xukun Su, Chen Zhao
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  651-657.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.07095
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    To determine the appropriate plot size for estimating plant diversity of different types of alpine grassland on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP), i.e. alpine meadow, alpine steppe and alpine desert, seven models were applied in the examination of species-area relationships. Depending on the optimal species-area relationship curves, the minimum sizes of sampling plot for each type of grassland under healthy and degraded conditions were obtained. The findings were as follows: (1) Non-saturation curve models were most suitable for describing species-area relationships of alpine grasslands on the QTP; (2) For all three types of alpine grassland, the minimum plot size for healthy grasslands was larger than that for degraded ones; (3) Minimum plot sizes for estimating plant diversity were 108 m2 and 82 m2, respectively, for healthy and degraded alpine meadow, 130 m2 and 81 m2, respectively, for healthy and degraded alpine steppe, and 60 m2 and 41 m2, respectively, for healthy and degraded alpine desert.

    Distribution of terrestrial national nature reserves in relation to human activities and natural environments in China
    Guanghua Zhao, Yu Tian, Zhiyao Tang, Junsheng Li, Hui Zeng
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  658-665.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.08048
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    To protect its huge biodiversity, China has established 2,640 nature reserves, including 318 terrestrial national nature reserves, covering ~15% of its landmass. It is necessary to characterize the geographical distribution of these nature reserves along natural and socio-economic gradients before evaluating their effectiveness in conserving China’s biodiversity. We did this using geographic information system (GIS) analysis. The results show that, the coverage of nature reserves is unbalanced across China. In total, there are 2,150 counties (91% of the total) with <10% coverage of nature reserves, of which 150 have <6% coverage and 1,726 (73%) have no nature reserves at all. A higher coverage of nature reserves tends to occur in regions of higher elevation, lower temperature, less precipitation, and less vegetation productivity. Nature reserves tend to be established therefore at high and cold locations in poor remote areas where human activities (including farming) are greatly reduced. In contrast, in warm humid and productive areas for farming and horticulture, nature reserve coverage is relatively low.

    Disturbance-driven changes to landscape patterns and responses of waterbirds at West Dongting Lake, China
    Yunzhu Liu, Linlu Shi, Hairui Duo, Boyong Peng, Cai Lü, Yi Zhu, Guangchun Lei
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  666-676.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.11090
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    To understand human impact on a wetland ecosystem, we analyzed the land-use and land-cover change (LUCC) and also changes to landscape pattern between 1996 and 2013, at West Dongting Lake (WDL), China. For this purpose, we examined remote sensing data and conducted field studies to compare community structure and diversity of waterbirds in three typical habitats: restored wetland, fragmented natural wetland and poplar plantation. Our results showed that the area used for poplar plantation increased 9 times from 1996 to 2013, while the area occupied by reed marsh increased by 30.6%. In contrast, areas of natural wetland, open water, and wet meadow/mudflat, were reduced by 46.4%, 49.8%, and 39.8%, respectively. The WDL wetland ecosystem was significantly fragmented and degraded over the same period as shown by an increase in landscape fragmentation index from 1.239 in 1996 to 2.897 in 2013. Comparisons of populations, species and distribution of waterbirds among three habitats showed. (1) Restored wetland provided habitat for several wintering waterbirds allowing a broader population distribution, but at the same time a simpler community structure with lower biodiversity (H'=1.866). (2) Fragmented natural wetland provided habitat for diverse wintering birds, including rare and endangered black stork (Ciconia nigra) and Siberian crane (Grus leucogeranus), thus rising the Shannon-Wiener index (H'=2.118) for the bird community in this type of habitat, although waterbird population numbers remained low. (3) Poplar plantation was, in general, not suitable for waterbirds with only two individuals of one species observed in this habitat during the field survey period. In conclusion, landscape pattern change and habitat fragmentation reduced biodiversity at WDL with the planting of poplar trees being the key driver of wetland ecosystem degradation. For future management, forestation should be restricted while restoration of natural wetland should be a high priority.

    Comparison of compositions and functional guilds of bird communities across an edge-interior gradient in secondary forest at Houmiling, Hainan Island, China
    Jianyun Gao, Zhaolu Wu, Qiang Zhang, Dongdong Su, Rendong Zhao, Fasheng Zou
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  677-687.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.11088
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    To understand edge effects on bird communities in a secondary-growth tropical rainforest, we examined how forest bird communities and different guilds change from the edge to the interior of a secondary forest at Houmiling Nature Reserve, Hainan. The study was conducted between August 2010 and September 2012, and used point counts and mist netting to survey birds at three sampling transects from the forest edge: 0-100 m (edge transect), 101-300 m (intermediate transect) and 301-500 m (interior transect). A total of 93 species were recorded. There were significant differences among the three sampling transects for mean species richness and mean number of individuals per point. Multiple comparisons revealed that species richness and individual abundance was highest in the intermediate transect and lowest in the edge transect. Species composition differed significantly from the edge to the interior transect. Intermediate and interior transects supported more forest-dependent species and forest generalists whose guilds were composed of frugivores, nectarivores and insectivores, which were sensitive to conditions at the forest edge. The edge transect harboured more open-habitat users, as well as a great number of granivores, ground insectivores and omnivores. In conclusion, forest edges have negative effects on bird diversity on Hainan Island, which should be borne in mind when developing strategies for forest bird conservation and habitat management.

    Composition and changes in abundance and biomass of fish assemblages along the Jingjiang section of the Yangtze River over the last decade
    Shasha Sun, Wenqiao Tang, Hongyi Guo, Huihua Li, Dong Liu, Tianshu Zhou, Haozhou Chen, Linhong Shen, Shuxin Gu
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  688-698.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.11073
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    The Jingjiang section of the Yangtze River, which lies near the estuary with an irregular semidiurnal tide, is the National Aquatic Germplasm Resource Reserve and plays an important role in conserving fishery resources. To clarify the composition and changes in abundance/biomass of fish assemblages of these coastal waters, investigations were carried out along the Jingjiang section of the Yangtze River in the autumns of 2002 to 2011. Results showed that 91 species, belonging to 12 orders and 23 families, were collected from surveys conducted during this period. Fish included 47 species of Cypriniformes, 17 species of Perciformes and 10 species of Siluriformes. Four were migratory species, 13 were estuarine, and 74 were freshwater fish. The average number of different fish species recorded each autumn was 47 (range = 32-61), and mean Jaccard similarity index was 53.72 (range = 38.46-69.09)%. The total number of dominant and common species recorded was 42, with the annual value averaging 19. Dominant and common species were mainly small fish, such as Hemiculter bleekeri, Pseudobrama simony, Pseudobagrus nitidus etc., as well as juveniles of large or medium fish, such as Culter alburnus, Parabramis pekinensis, P. vachellii etc. The mean individual weight (MIW) of the fish assemblage was 6.99 g. The abundance biomass comparison curve indicated that the first dominant species recorded in autumn in all years except 2010 were all very small-sized fish. The most dominant species in 2002-2009 were also of small-size fish, and large-size fish only contributed to the dominant species in 2010 and 2011. Our research also indicated a general increase in abundance or biomass (CPUEN、CPUEW), the MIW of the fish assemblage, and the population size of 62% of dominant and common species. This suggested that fishery resources of the waters studied are likely to improve.

    Spatial pattern of zooplankton diversity in Lianjiang River, Guangdong Province, China
    Yuan Gao, Zini Lai, Jie Li, Chao Wang, Yanyi Zeng, Qianfu Liu, Wanling Yang
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  699-708.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.10082
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    Twelve dams have been built along the Lianjiang River, the largest tributary of the Beijiang River in Guangdong Province, China. To understand the spatial distribution of zooplankton diversity developing after the establishment of these dams and cascades, and also the effects that these dams have had on zooplankton community structure, a study was conducted on the aquatic ecosystem in October 2007. Twelve sampling sites (S1-S12) along the main stream of Lianjiang River were established to study the composition of different groups of zooplankton and dominant species, the spatial distribution of abundance, biomass, diversity index of zooplankton as well as the zooplankton community, and relationships with environmental factors. Records showed that there were 76 species of zooplankton, which included 19 species of protozoa, 25 species of rotifer, 17 species of cladocera and 15 species of copepoda. Species numbers of zooplankton were greatest in sites S2 to S4, and lowest in S5. The dominant species were Stentor polymorphrus, Brachionus calyciflorus, Bosmina longirostris and Ectocyclops phaleratus, and significant differences in the distribution of dominant species existed between sampling points. Abundance of zooplankton fluctuated between 921.00 and 2,160.35 individuals/L, with highest abundance occurring in S5 and lowest in S1. Biomass of zooplankton fluctuated between 0.198 and 0.699 mg/L, with the highest value occurring in S5 and the lowest in S1. Generally, the values of Margalef species richness index, Shannon-Wiener diversity index and Pielou Evenness index of different zooplankton groups showed higher in upstream and lower in middle and downstream. PCA analysis showed a significant association between zooplankton community and environmental factors such as ammonia nitrogen, permanganate index, pH and transparence. We concluded that significant differences in ecological factors between habitats, such as nutrients, caused by cascade development, were the key factors determining the spatial distribution of zooplankton diversity in the Lianjiang river.

    Effects of different disturbance measures on spatial distribution patterns of understory plants in Phyllostachys edulis forests
    Yanrong Fan, Shuanglin Chen, Hua Lin, Qingping Yang, Yicong Hong, Ziwu Guo
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  709-714.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.06020
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    Anthropogenic disturbance measures have effects on biological relationships, resource patterns and ecological processes of ecosystems, causing changes of species spatial distribution pattern. To reveal the effects of different disturbance measures on species composition and the distribution patterns of dominant species, we selected three Phyllostachys edulis forests that had been subject to different types of disturbance, i.e. without weeding for many years (Forestno), hilltop weeding (Foresthilltop), and herbicide weeding (Forestherbicide), and analyzed spatial distribution patterns of the understory plant species. A total of 74 species belonging to 58 genera and 47 families were recorded across forest types. The forestherbicide type contained the most abundant species, while in the forestno type importance values ??and coverage of dominant arbor and shrub species were highest, whereas importance values ??and coverage of dominant herb species were lowest. Cunninghamia lanceolata, the common dominant arbor species in all three types of forest, tended to show a clumped pattern in both the forestno and the forestherbicide types (though not significantly so), but was randomly distributed in the foresthilltop type. Rubus reflexus, the common dominant shrub species, clumped strongly in both the forestno and the foresthilltop types, but not significantly so in the forestherbicide type. Melastoma dodecandrum and Dicranopteris dichotoma, the common dominant herb species, were strongly clumped in all three forest types. The proportion of dominant species showing a uniform distribution was highest in the forestno type. We suggest that anthropogenic hilltop weeding measure can be used for understory vegetation interference and the sustainable management of bamboo.

    Diversity of calcium speciation in leaves of Primulina species (Gesneriaceae)
    Qingwen Qi, Zhuan Hao, Junjie Tao, Ming Kang
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  715-722.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.08152
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    Primulina is a genus containing typical “stone plants” or “cave plants” that show a high degree of edaphic specialization in the karst limestone regions of southwest China. Most species of the genus occur only on calcareous soils developed from carbonate bedrock, while a few species are found only on the red soil developed from the Danxia landform or acidic soil developed from sandshale bedrock. The aim of this study is to investigate the diversity and characteristics of calcium absorption and storage in Primulina from different soil substrates. Calcium in leaves was determined for plants sampled from 15 populations representing 11 Primulina species occurring on calcareous soil, red soil or acid soil. We analyzed the main types of calcium found in leaves, and compared the calcium content within and among species from different soil types. The results revealed a general high level of leaf calcium content in Primulina species compared with other plants from the karst regions of southwest China. However, we found a significant difference in calcium content among Primulina species from different soil types, with high average calcium content (2,285.6 mg/kg) in Primulina from calcareous soil relative to low levels present in Primulina from both acid soil (1,379.3 mg/kg) and Danxia red soil (1,329.1 mg/kg). The main form of calcium stored in most Primulina species (9 out of 11) was pectate calcium, which accounted for 31.6-64.2% of the total calcium in the leaves. In contrast, for two species, P. linearifolia and P. medica, which grow on soil with a pH > 8, the main calcium form was soluble calcium, which accounted for about 40% of the total calcium in plant leaves. In addition, differences in calcium amount and type were recorded within species from either the same or different soil types. These results suggest that there is variation in calcium speciation found in Primulina at both interspecific and intraspecific levels. Our findings provide a valuable basis for further studies on adaptive mechanisms of edaphic specialization in Primulina.

    Genetic diversity and population structure of Bretschneidera sinensis, an endangered species
    Gangbiao Xu, Yan Liang, Yan Jiang, Xiongsheng Liu, Shangli Hu, Yufei Xiao, Bobo Hao
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  723-731.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.09117
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    Amounts and distribution of intraspecific genetic variation provide benchmarks for developing conservation strategies. Bretschneidera sinensis is a monotypic relic species listed in the First Grade of the List of Wild Plants Under State Protection (First Batch) in China. We examined the genetic diversity and genetic structure of 219 B. sinensis individuals sampled from 15 natural populations distributed in Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangdong, Guangxi, and Guizhou using inter-simple sequence repeat (ISSR) markers generated by seven ISSR primers. The percentage of polymorphic bands (PPB) at the species and population level was 74.42% and 38.06%, respectively. Shannon’s index (I) of phenotypic diversity at the species and population level was 0.3630 and 0.2081, respectively, and Nei’s genetic diversity (He) at the species and population level was 0.2397 and 0.1405, respectively. These results indicate that B. sinensis contains relatively high levels of genetic diversity. Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) and estimates of the coefficient of genetic differentiation based on phenotypic diversity index also indicated high levels of population subdivision (GST = 0.2973; FST = 0.4267) in the species. Analysis of the ISSR data using UPGMA further revealed that populations were genetically clustered into two groups, while a Mantel test showed that genetic divergence was significantly correlated with geographical distance among populations (Mantel test; r = 0.3096, P = 0.008). We conclude from our results that B. sinensis is not endangered due to low evolutionary potential stemming from low genetic diversity, but by habitat destruction coupled with a low reproductive capacity, poor adaptability and weak competitiveness. The Mt. Yangming, Mt. Mangshan, Ruyang, and Mt. Bamianshan populations of the species with higher genetic diversity should be given priority for conservation, and inbreeding depression monitoring should be conducted.

    Diversity of invasive species in Shanghai
    Qingrou Zhang, Shang Jiang, Ruiting Ju, Xiaoyun Pan
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  732-737.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.06089
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    A list of invasive alien species (IAS) is essential for initiating an analysis of the biological and ecological traits of such species and for improving our understanding of patterns of biological invasions. An inventory of IAS in Shanghai was prepared through a literature survey. A total of 212 IAS belonging to 63 orders and 87 families were recorded. Of these, 65% were plants, 29% were animals, and the rest were microorganisms. Dominant groups could be distinguished in both plant and animal groups. Species originating from the Americas made up 51% of the total, while 52% of plant species were introduced intentionally and 82% of animal species unintentionally. Of the invasive plants, 93% are distributed in highly disturbed habitats with rich resources, whereas 76% of invasive animals occur in storehouses and farmlands. The present information on diversity and ecological features of IAS is crucial for designing management strategies against the negative impacts of such species in Shanghai.

    Citizen science: integrating scientific research, ecological conservation and public participation
    Jian Zhang, Shengbin Chen, Bin Chen, Yanjun Du, Xiaolei Huang, Xubin Pan, Qiang Zhang
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  738-749.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.12113
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    Citizen science, also known as “public participation in scientific research”, is defined as scientific activities in which non-professional scientists participate as volunteers in data collection, analysis and dissemination within a scientific project. With the advent of the information age, citizen science projects, especially in ecological conservation and environmental monitoring, are rapidly expanding our knowledge of the world around us, and contributing to management and policy decisions. Citizen science projects can be classified into five types of models: contractual, contributory, collaborative, co-created and collegial projects. In China, public participation in science related activities has had a long history, but current contributions in citizen science are limited because of relatively low public participation, and the weaknesses in data quality control, data management and analysis. Recently, citizen science has been applied to bird watching and plant monitoring, with some positive and negative experiences. To better increase citizen science activities and enhance such contributions to academic research, improvements are urgently required in financial support, the development of project platforms, the application of new technology, and international collaboration. We believe that the enhancement of citizen science will greatly promote the development of ecological conservation, environmental monitoring and related research fields. To help with this we have established a platform for China citizen science projects ( to promote communication and cooperation among scientists, governments, other organizations and the public.

    Crop wild relatives and their conservation strategies in China
    Yanbo Yu, Qunliang Wang, Shelagh Kell, Nigel Maxted, Brian V. Ford-Lloyd, Wei Wei, Dingming Kang, Keping Ma
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  750-757.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.08138
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    Crop wild relatives (CWR) are important components of plant genetic resources that are characterized by unique biological traits, including those with great potential and specific value in coping with climate change and ensuring food security. In general, there are more than 24,000 CWR species that can be found in China, many of which are likely to contain valuable characters for crop improvement. There are many ex situ collections of plant genetic resources including some CWR in China, but that does not replace the role and function of in situ conservation, which conserves the diversity of population in nature so that ongoing evolutionary processes of selection and adaptation to their natural habitats are maintained. One hundred and sixty-nine in situ protected areas have been established so far in China, however, there is an urgent need for China to develop a national CWR strategy which identifies prior species for conservation at national and regional levels and the steps needed to secure those species using complementary (in situ and ex situ) conservation approaches. The steps taken so far in China for CWR conservation are discussed and possible conservation strategies are proposed in this paper, which serves as a crucial reference for developing conservation policy for China’s CWR.

    Impacts of the Nagoya Protocol on access to plant genetic resources and benefit sharing in China
    Jianyong Wu, Dayuan Xue, Fuwei Zhao, Yanjie Wang
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  758-764.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.07153
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    The Nagoya Protocol (NP) is an international legal framework for access to genetic resources and benefit-sharing. It opened for signature on February1, 2011, and was proposed to be in force 90 days after the date when the fiftieth country or regional organization had ratified it. By October 2013, the protocol had been signed by 92 countries and ratified by 26 countries. The protocol is now expected to be in force before the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2014. The Nagoya Protocol will change the current situation of unordered access to and free development of genetic resources. It will provide a premise and guarantee for the principle of national sovereignty of genetic resources and implementation of equitable sharing of benefits arising from their utilization. Analyses show that although genetic resources indigenous to China have been widely utilized by other developed countries, with patents taken out on some products, utilization in China has been poor owing to a weak capacity for independent innovation and underdeveloped biotechnology. China currently lacks a policy and regulatory system for access and benefit sharing (ABS) to its genetic resources. It is, therefore, a pressing matter for China to improve the implementation of the NP by strengthening national and local policies and regulations on ABS. There is also a need to increase investment to support basic research capacity and develop biological technology to fully utilize genetic resources in China

    Canoco 5: a new version of an ecological multivariate data ordination program
    Jiangshan Lai
    Biodiv Sci. 2013, 21 (6):  765-768.  doi:10.3724/SP.J.1003.2013.04133
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    Ordination of multidimensional data on community composition is one of the most important multivariate statistical methods used in biodiversity research. The aim of ordination is to visualize multidimensional data structure at a low-dimensional ordination space. Canoco is one of the most popular programs for ordination analysis and Canoco 4.5 was widely used for such analysis after its release in 2002, because of its simple user interface and powerful graphic tools. A new version of Cannoco, Canoco 5 was released in October 2012. This new version simplifies data entry, provides a better help system and graphics tools, simplifies steps of variation partitioning and significance tests, adds some new methods (e.g. PCNM, NMDS, association analysis of functional traits, etc.). This paper provides an overview of the major improvements to ??Canoco 5, and addresses important steps required for particular analyses.

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