Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2017, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (11): 1127-1139.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2017.0092

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Characteristic and representativeness of the vertical vegetation zonation along the altitudinal gradient in Shennongjia Natural Heritage

Ming-Zhe MA1,2, Guo-Zhen SHEN1, Gao-Ming XIONG1, Chang-Ming ZHAO1, Wen-Ting XU1, You-Bing ZHOU1, Zong-Qiang XIE1,2,*()   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
    2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2017-04-07 Accepted:2017-08-29 Online:2017-11-10 Published:2017-11-10
  • Contact: Zong-Qiang XIE


Aims Mountains contain broad environmental gradients, which are to be an outstanding universal value representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of zonal vegetation along the elevation gradients. Exploring the biological and ecological value of the vegetation zonation along the elevation gradients of Chinese mountain natural heritage site is important for biodiversity conservation and management.
Methods Based on the community survey data of the six vegetation zonation along the elevational gradients in Shennongjia, the global land use dataset, and the literature data of the communities along the altitudinal gradients of other natural heritage sites and the nominated world natural heritage sites in Oriental Deciduous Forest Biogeographic Province by Udvardy, we explored the outstanding universal value of the zonal vegetation along the altitude gradients by the methods of spatial analysis.
Important findings Shennongjia heritage site preserves the intact vegetation zonation of the typical Oriental Deciduous Forest Biogeographical Province in the Classification of the Biogeographical Provinces of the World by Udvardy, including evergreen broad-leaved forests (South Slope of the Heritage Site), evergreen deciduous broad-leaved mixed forests, deciduous broad-leaved forests, coniferous and broad-leaved mixed forests, coniferous forests and subalpine shrub and meadow along the elevation gradients. The altitudinal zonation of vegetation in the Shennongjia heritage site represented a variety of bio-ecological processes, such as the turnover of the dominant trees along the altitudinal gradients, and is an outstanding example of the ongoing ecological processes occurring in the development of intact subtropical mixed broadleaved evergreen and deciduous forest in the Northern Hemisphere.

Key words: elevation gradient, zonal vegetation, evergreen and deciduous broad-leaved mixed forest, Oriental Deciduous Biogeographic Province, integrity