Journal of Resources and Ecology ›› 2018, Vol. 9 ›› Issue (5): 526-537.DOI: 10.5814/j.issn.1674-764x.2018.05.010

• Resources and Ecology in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Vegetation Pattern in Northern Tibet in Relation to Environmental and Geo-spatial Factors

TIAN Li1,3, ZHANG Yangjian1,2, Claus HOLZAPFEL4, HUANG Ke1, CHEN Ning1, TAO Jian1, ZHU Juntao1,*   

  1. 1. Lhasa Plateau Ecosystem Research Station, Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Chinese Academy of Sciences Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Beijing 100101, China;
    3. Qianyanzhou Ecological Research Station, Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China;
    4. Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 195 University Avenue, Newark NJ 07102, USA
  • Received:2018-01-12 Revised:2018-04-20 Online:2018-09-30 Published:2018-09-30
  • Contact: * ZHU Juntao, E-mail: zhujt@igsnrr.ac.cn
  • Supported by:
    National Key Technology Research and Development Program of China (2016YFC0501802, 2017YFA0604802); National Natural Science Foundation of China (41571195, 41501103); Youth Innovation Team Project of Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling (LENOM2016Q0002).

Abstract: Environmental and Geo-spatial factors have long been considered as crucial determinants of species composition and distributions. However, quantifying the relative contributions of these factors for the alpine ecosystems is lacking. The Tibetan Plateau has a unique ecological environment and vegetation types. Our objectives are to quantify the spatial distributions of plant communities on the Northern Tibetan Alpine grasslands and to explore the relationships between vegetation composition, Geo-spatial factors and environmental factors. We established 63 field plots along a 1200-km gradient on the Northern Tibetan Plateau Alpine Grassland and employed the two-way indicator species analysis (TWINSPAN) and the detrended canonical correspondence analysis (DCCA). Fourteen communities of alpine grassland were identifiable along the transect and consisted of three vegetation types: Alpine meadow, Alpine steppe, and desert steppe. Vegetation composition and spatial distribution appeared to be largely determined by mean annual precipitation and less influenced by temperature. A large fraction (73.5%) of the variation in vegetation distribution was explained by environmental variables along this transect, somewhat less by Geo-spatial factors (56.3%). The environmental and Geo-spatial factors explained 29.6% and 12.3% of the total variation, respectively, while their interaction explained 43.9%. Our findings provide strong empirical evidence for explaining biological and environmental synergetic relationships in Northern Tibet.

Key words: alpine grasslands, environmental interpretation, spatial pattern, Tibetan Plateau, vegetation composition