Karst forest is a type of forest developed in karst landform, with complex vegetation types and high biodiversity, and is rich in endemic species. As one of the important and special plant groups in the karst habitat, many orchids have unique adaptive mechanisms. However, the distribution pattern and conservation status of orchids in karst forest largely remain unclear.
Researchers from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG) and their collaborators performed a comprehensive orchid flora survey in a karst forest located in southeast Yunnan, China. They aimed to seek the species richness, distribution, and conservation status of orchid species in Wanfengshan Nature Reserve (NR).
The researchers conducted systematic field surveys in Wanfengshan Nature Reserve from 2019 to 2022. They identified 78 orchid species in 35 genera in eight isolated hills, indicating that the orchids are of high richness in karst forest of Wanfengshan NR, and the community is occupied by terrestrial orchids.
The researchers detected maximum richness of orchids at middle and high elevations. They observed most of epiphytes and terrestrial species in lower peak and higher peak, respectively. Due to physical barriers of dispersal, each isolated small hill has different assemblage of species.
They further observed that over one third orchid species are under threat,especially those with ornamental and medicinal value, despite the fact that all orchids are well protected in the nature reserve.
The researchers thus call for more conservation concerns to the orchids in the karst forest. They suggest more research be conducted to address the mechanisms of ecological adaption, mycorrhizal interactions, and pollination of orchids in karst forests, and effective ways for recovery and conservation of orchids.
Related results were published in Forest Ecosystems on May 16.
SONG Liang Ph.D Principal Investigator
Key Laboratory of Tropical Forest Ecology, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China