Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2007, Vol. 31 ›› Issue (3): 437-444.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2007.0053

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HUANG Xiao-Xia1(), JIANG Yuan2,*(), LIU Quan-Ru3, HUANG Qiu-Ru4   

  1. 1School of Resource Environment and Earth Science, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China
    2College of Resources Science, China Ecological Capital Assessment Research Center, Beijing Normal University; Key laboratory of Environmental Change and Natural Disaster, Ministry of Education, Beijing 100875, China
    3College of Life Sciences, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
    4Meteorologic Bureau of Hainan, Haikou 570203, China
  • Received:2006-02-17 Accepted:2006-05-31 Online:2007-02-17 Published:2007-05-30
  • Contact: JIANG Yuan


Aims Vegetation-environment relationships are key to understanding and predicting vegetation patterns in mountainous areas. Much research has examined vegetation patterns related to climate and topography; however, most studies have focused on forest and shrubland and habitats or examined relationships of vegetation and environmental factors along elevation gradients. Meadows have rarely been studied. We examined a subalpine meadow on the top of Mt. Xiaowutai (summit 2 882 m), the highest mountain of Hebei Province, North China, to relate communities to environmental factors.
Methods We examined vegetation data in relation to temperature, solar radiation and a soil wetness index simulated by GIS. Two-way indicator species analysis (TWINSPAN) was used to classify herbaceous communities, and the relationship between plant communities and environment was examined using canonical correspondence analysis (CCA).
Important findings The thermal gradient of temperature and direct solar radiation was the key factor correlated with community distribution in the study area, followed by soil nutrients, grazing and soil moisture as reflected by the soil wetness index, which is controlled by topography. This study indicates that habitat conditions, including temperature, solar radiation, soil wetness and nutrients, are the key factors which determine the distribution pattern of alpine meadow communities.

Key words: Mt. Xiaowutai, subalpine meadow, distribution pattern of plant communities, CCA, direct environment parameters