Several botanical investigations have been conducted in Xishuangbanna, a biodiversity hot spot. However, the investigations were based primarily on observation without fully standardized sampling protocols and spatial replications, making it difficult to quantitatively examine and compare pteridophyte (the second largest group of vascular plants) species richness and composition in this region.
Researchers from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) employed standardized sampling and spatial replications to investigate the differences in pteridophyte species diversity and composition between limestone and non-limestone forests in Xishuangbanna.
They found that pteridophyte species composition was different between limestone forest (LF) and non-limestone forest (NLF). Overall species richness (gamma diversity) was similar between the two habitats, but local species richness (alpha diversity) was lower in LF due to high species turnover (beta diversity) among the locations and, even transects.
The results showed that even small patches of LF can contain unique species and thus small LF fragments were disproportionately important to the conservation of pteridophytes inXishuangbanna.
“Our results suggest that LF pteridophyte biodiversity cannot be protected by conserving a limited number of habitat patches, because loss of one LF habitat patch may result in local extinction of species or extinction of endemic species that are yet to be discovered”, said Prof. CAO Min, principal investigator of the study.
The study entitled “Differences in pteridophyte diversity between limestone forests and non-limestone forests in the monsoonal tropics of southwestern China” has been published online in Plant Ecology.
CAO Min Ph.D Principal Investigator
Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China