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   Location:Home > Research > Research Progress
Botanist compares floristic compositions in Yunnan and reveals their variation with geography
Author: ZHU Hua
Update time: 2012-10-08
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Yunnan is a mountainous region with an extremely diverse topography. Due to its diverse topography and climate, as well as its unique geological history, Yunnan is extremely rich in species and vegetation types, and the landscape varies vastly from tropical rain forests in southern Yunnan, to Taiga-like cold temperate coniferous forest in northwestern Yunnan. The patterns in the flora and vegetation of Yunnan are of extreme interest to botanists.

Prof. ZHU Hua of Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) selected Southern Yunnan (21°09′-22°36′ N, 99°58′ -101°50′E), Central Yunnan (23°53′ -25°11′ N, 100°32′ -101°58 ′E), and Northwestern Yunnan (27°10′-28°27′ N, 98°53′ - 99°42′ E) as three representative regions to study their floristic compositions and variation with geography, and their evolution with geological history, as well as biogeographical affinities.

In the study, a total of 4150 native species including subspecies and varieties from 1240 genera and 183 families of seed plants were recognized from southern Yunnan. A total of 3389 native species including subspecies and varieties from 1095 genera and 167 families of seed plants were recognized from central Yunnan. A total of 6807 native species including subspecies and varieties from 1296 genera and 166 families of seed plants were recognized from northwestern Yunnan.

The study found that the flora of Yunnan is noticeably divergent along altitude, latitude and topography. The flora of northwestern Yunnan is temperate in nature, while the flora of southern Yunnan is tropical in nature and has strong tropical Asian affinities. The flora of central Yunnan has floristic attributes of both southern and northwestern Yunnan.

The botanist inferred that the floras of Yunnan could be derived from a common Tertiary tropical or subtropical Asian flora. The flora of northwestern Yunnan has evolved with the uplift of the Himalayas by gradual proliferation of mainly cosmopolitan and north temperate floristic elements, while the flora of southern Yunnan has evolved with extrusion of the Indochina block to Southeast Asia by the influence of mainly tropical Asian elements.

The study entitled “Biogeographical Divergence of the Flora of Yunnan, Southwestern China Initiated by the Uplift of Himalaya and Extrusion of Indochina Block” has been published in PLoS ONE, 7(9): e45601. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045601

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Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Menglun, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China
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