Phytogeographical Analysis of Seed Plant Genera in China
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Background and aimsA central goal of biogeography and ecology is to uncover and understand distributional patterns of organisms. China has long been a focus of attention because of its rich biota, especially with respect to plants. Using 290 floras from across China, this paper quantitatively characterizes the composition of floristic elements at multiple scales (i.e. national, provincial and local), and explores the extent to which climatic and geographical factors associated with each flora can jointly and independently explain the variation in floristic elements in local floras.
MethodsA study was made of 261 local floras, 28 province-level floras and one national-level flora across China. Genera of seed plants in each flora were assigned to 14 floristic elements according to their worldwide geographical distributions. The composition of floristic elements was related to climatic and geographical factors.
Key results and conclusionsVariations in percentages of cosmopolitan, tropical and temperate genera among local floras tend to be greater at higher latitudes than at lower latitudes. Latitude is strongly correlated with the proportions of 13 of the 14 floristic elements. Correlations of the proportions of floristic elements with longitude are much weaker than those with latitude. Climate represented by the first principal component of a principal component analysis was strongly correlated with the proportions of floristic elements in local floras (|r| = 0.75 +/- 0.18). Geographical coordinates independently explained about four times as much variation in floristic elements as did climate. Further research is necessary to examine the roles of water-energy dynamics, geology, soils, biotic interactions, and historical factors such as land connections between continents in the past and at present in creating observed floristic patterns.
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