J Plant Ecol ›› 2016, Vol. 9 ›› Issue (4): 393-401.DOI: 10.1093/jpe/rtv070

• Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Distribution of shrublands in relation to soil and climate in mid-subtropical China

Jiaxiang Li1,2,3, Gaoming Xiong1, Wenting Xu1 and Zongqiang Xie1,*   

  1. 1 State Key Laboratory of Vegetation and Environmental Change, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 20 Nanxincun, Xiangshan, Beijing 100093, China; 2 Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Science, 19 Yuquan Road, Beijing 100049, China; 3 School of Forestry, Central South University of Forestry and Technology, 498 Shaoshannan Road, Changsha 410004, China
  • Received:2015-07-06 Accepted:2015-10-15 Published:2016-07-19
  • Contact: Xie, Zongqiang

Abstract: Aims Understanding relationships between vegetation and environments is of importance for ecosystem restoration and management. However, information on how environments influence the floristic patterns of shrublands is lack, especially in the subtropical China. In this study, we explored how environments regulate species composition of shrublands at landscape scale in mid-subtropical China.
Methods We investigated species composition and measured the climate and soil environments for 207 shrubland plots in mid-subtropical China (24°39′–30°08′N, 108°47′–114°15′E). We applied a hierarchical cluster analysis and indicator species analysis based on the Bray–Curtis similarity index to identify the main shrubland types and employed principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) to explore the relationship between floristic composition and environment.
Important findings We identified four shrubland types occurring in different environmental conditions. Montane shrubland, dominated by species suitable for cool climates (e.g. Rhododendron simsii), were distributed in steep areas at comparatively high altitudes; foothill shrubland, dominated by mesophilous species (e.g. Loropetalum chinense), were distributed in low mountains and hills; pioneer shrubland, dominated by fast grow and short-life cycles species (e.g. Rhus chinensis), were distributed at low altitudes with dense population; and finally, limestone shrubland, dominated by calcicole plants (e.g. Coriaria nepalensis), were distributed in the extensive karst areas. Communities occurring in high pH soils were completely separated from those in low pH soils according to the hierarchical cluster analysis. PCoA ordination associated the four types with distinct edaphic and climatic gradients. Soil pH explained 63.3% of variation in PCoA, followed by soil depth and soil bulk density.

Key words: floristic composition, vegetation-environment relationship, environmental filtering, principal coordinate analysis

摘要:
Aims Understanding relationships between vegetation and environments is of importance for ecosystem restoration and management. However, information on how environments influence the floristic patterns of shrublands is lack, especially in the subtropical China. In this study, we explored how environments regulate species composition of shrublands at landscape scale in mid-subtropical China.
Methods We investigated species composition and measured the climate and soil environments for 207 shrubland plots in mid-subtropical China (24°39′–30°08′N, 108°47′–114°15′E). We applied a hierarchical cluster analysis and indicator species analysis based on the Bray–Curtis similarity index to identify the main shrubland types and employed principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) to explore the relationship between floristic composition and environment.
Important findings We identified four shrubland types occurring in different environmental conditions. Montane shrubland, dominated by species suitable for cool climates (e.g. Rhododendron simsii), were distributed in steep areas at comparatively high altitudes; foothill shrubland, dominated by mesophilous species (e.g. Loropetalum chinense), were distributed in low mountains and hills; pioneer shrubland, dominated by fast grow and short-life cycles species (e.g. Rhus chinensis), were distributed at low altitudes with dense population; and finally, limestone shrubland, dominated by calcicole plants (e.g. Coriaria nepalensis), were distributed in the extensive karst areas. Communities occurring in high pH soils were completely separated from those in low pH soils according to the hierarchical cluster analysis. PCoA ordination associated the four types with distinct edaphic and climatic gradients. Soil pH explained 63.3% of variation in PCoA, followed by soil depth and soil bulk density.