Biodiversity && China

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1 Biodiversity && China China

2 Why study biodiversity in China? Biodiversity Climate Change Hazards Population Habitat Change Pollution Ecology Resources

3 Definitions of Biodiversity Source: Biodiversity (2004) Gaston / Spicer (Blackwell. London) Species diversity species richness (total number and abundance), endemism (uniqueness), disparity (different species). Species diversity is needed for an ecosystem to function. Removing species from the various trophic levels can have a huge impact on energy flows and nutrient recycling. Genetic diversity range of genes found within a particular species determines degree of resistance to pests and diseases. Breeding new varieties for agriculture has led to genetic erosion and genetic pollution, these have led to a narrowing of the genetic base and general weakening of plant resistance to disease and climate change future problems with food security? Ecosystem diversity number of ecosystems within a given area controlled by physical conditions climate, geology, relief and soils. The ability of people to modify and eliminate ecosystems is a threat to ecosystem diversity.

4 Global and Continental Factors Size of area: overall biodiversity increases with area, because large continuous biomes support a wider range of species and extensive boundaries encourage migration. History and age: in general, biodiversity is greatest in the oldest and least disturbed ecosystems, especially in the tropics. Isolation: geographical isolation, particularly on remote islands, reduces the number of species but encourages endemism. Altitudinal range: a large altitudinal range means a cross section of different climates. The more climate zones involved, the more diverse the habitats. The same principle applies to the ocean depths.

5 Regional Factors Productivity: (most significant) high temperatures and humidity levels, rich supplies of nutrients, light for photosynthesis and a lack of annual seasons all encourage primary productivity and abundant energy. Conversely, factors limiting growth (cold and aridity) reduce the range and number of species. Habitat architecture: high primary productivity encourages the development of a complex trophic pyramid with many ecological niches. This system is capable of supporting high levels of biodiversity. Habitat heterogeneity: a varied physical environment will harbour greater biodiversity because it provides a wider range of habitats for a larger variety of species.

6 Local Factors Succession: biodiversity increases as species establish themselves, interact and subtly alter the environment. Biodiversity increases over time with the immigration, establishment and development of species, leading to the creation of succession or sequence. Interaction between species: this can lead to competition which in turn may drive certain species to extinction. Disturbance: major environmental disasters such as fires, flooding and storms can destroy biodiversity. Dispersal and colonisation: individual species dispersal and colonisation rates have an impact on biodiversity, high rates of efficiency enhance biodiversity.

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8 The Mountains of South-West China Sichuan Province

9 Biodiversity Hotspots

10 Biodiversity Hotspot - Definition A biodiversity hotspot is an area containing a huge number of species, a large percentage of which are endemic. Hotspots have been described as the most remarkable places on Earth and the most threatened. They cover less than 2% of the Earth s surface, yet they contain 44% of the world s plant species and 35% of its animal species. The world s 25 land-based top hotspots are divided into 3 categories: Continental hotspots: these are the richest in terms of biodiversity. Large island: these harbour diverse and distinctive species, which can include relict fauna long extinct on the main continents. Small island hotspots: these are often low in species numbers but contain a high proportion of endemics. Species on these islands are susceptible to extinction due to small populations, physical disturbances, human exploitation, and vulnerability to the introduction of alien species.

11 Biodiversity in China - Megadiversity China crosses frigid, temperate, tropical zones from north to south plateau and mountain occupy 50% of the land. China has many endemic species in both flora and fauna. The number of species make up one tenth of the total number in the world.

12 Biodiversity in China Species in China Mammals: 499 4,000 Birds: 1,186 9,040 Reptiles: 376 6,300 Bryophytes 2,200 16,000 Angiosperms: 25, ,000 Species in the World Endemism Species / Genera in China Endemic Mammals: Birds: 1, Reptiles: Bryophytes: 494 genera 8 genera Angiosperms: 3,116 genera 232 genera Endangered Species Mammals: 94 Bryophytes: 28 Birds:183 Angiosperms: 863 Reptiles: 17

13 Biodiversity in China Estimate of 398 vertebrate species are endangered 7.7% of the total. Estimate of 1,019 plant species are endangered 3.5% of the total. 10% of plant species in temperate zone % of plant species in the tropical and sub-tropical zones 4 5,000 species. Habitat destruction is the main cause: land reclamation, deforestation, drainage of marsh land. Overexploitation, pollution, invasive species, urban growth, dams, reservoirs, mining, quarrying. Natural disasters. Climate change.

14 Main Direct Drivers of Change in Biodiversity and Ecosystems

15 Biodiversity Hotspot The Mountains of South-West China Sichuan Province With a wide variety of climate and topography this biodiversity hotspot supports the most endemic rich temperate flora in the world. Endemic Species: golden monkey, giant panda, red panda.

16 The Mountains of South-West China Source: Hotspot Original Extent (km²) 262,446 Hotspot Vegetation Remaining (km²) 20,996 Endemic Plant Species 3,500 Endemic Threatened Birds 2 Endemic Threatened Mammals 3 Endemic Threatened Amphibians 3 Extinct Species 0 Human Population Density (people/km²) 32 Area Protected (km²) 14,034 Area Protected (km²) in Categories I-IV* 4,273

17 Biodiversity As a result of the dramatic differences in topography, climate and vegetation and the physical barriers between its regions, the hotspot has evolved a cluster of distinctive mini-hotspots, each with its own unique flora and fauna. It is arguably the most botanically rich temperate region in the world. Vascular plant diversity estimated at 12,000 species, 40% of species in China.

18 Hotspot within a Hotspot Emei Shan

19 Emei Shan at 3.099m one of the botanically richest and most diverse mountains in the world.

20 Five Vegetation Zones 1. Subtropical evergreen broadleaved forest 2. Evergreen and deciduous broadleaved mixed forest 3. Coniferous and broadleaved mixed forest 4. Subalpine coniferous forest 5. Subalpine shrub

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25 Ecosystem Services Source: Ecosystems and Well-Being: Synthesis (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment)

26 Emei Shan: Historical Heritage Reserve China s first Buddhist temple was built here in the 1 st Century CE now there are 30 temples in the reserve.

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33 Threats to biodiversity on Emei Shan The major threat to biodiversity on Emei Shan is the number of visitors each year 300,000.

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35 The Cottage / Museum of Chinese Poet Du Fu in Chengdu, Sichuan

36 Du Fu ( CE)

37 Spring View (translated by Gary Snyder) The nation is ruined but mountains and rivers remain.

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39 2008 Earthquake: Magnitude 7.9 on the Richter Scale, 19 km deep, 240 km length. 87,150 killed or missing, 4,800,000 left homeless.

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41 Remains of the ruined school, Yingxiu in Wenchuan County epicentre of the earthquake

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45 Landslides dam rivers

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47 2013 Floods in Sichuan

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49 Wolong Nature Reserve Home of the Giant Panda

50 Background Research and Data: UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme Reserve Directory Wolong, China (Home of the Giant Panda) 2007 Founded in 1963 becomes a UNESCO MAB Reserve in Qionglai Mountains, Sichuan Province, People s Republic of China km from the provincial capital, Chengdu. Scale: total area 200,000 hectares; core area 119,460; buffer zone 53,020; transition areas 27,520. Altitude range: 1,200m 6,500m. Reason for designation: home to the world s largest giant panda population (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) up to 150. Home too for the red panda, golden monkey and white-lipped deer. Centre of biodiversity 4,000 plant species Major ecosystem type: mixed mountain and highland systems. Major habitat and land cover types: evergreen forest, evergreen deciduous broadleaf forest, mixed coniferous and broadleaf forest, coniferous forest, high mountain tundra, rocky habitats.

51 Background - continued Data updated UNESCO Protected Planet website 2012 / United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre 2011 Population in the reserve 41 small towns and many agricultural villages within the buffer zone 21,320, with 1,020 in the core area and 4,900 in the reserve. The Qiang, Hui and Tibetan ethnic minority cultures make up 70% of the local population and are not restricted by the national one child policy and so their numbers are rising more swiftly than the majority Han Chinese populations. Development of the reserve and mountains in the surrounding area anticipates 21,900 daily visitors in the peak seasons. At present 1,500 people are directly employed in tourism and 2,000 people are indirectly employed. The increase in carrying capacity includes new hotels with 7,000 beds, a conference centre, reception centre, ecological museum, and education stations, breeding centres, ecological farm,, observation stations, campsites, shelters, and facilities for riding, rafting, rock climbing and bungee jumping.

52 Threats to Panda Habitat Research scenarios suggest that the human population in the reserve will increase by 38% and the panda habitat decrease by 37% in the next 40 years if current policies continue. The destruction of the panda habitat is currently occurring through the fragmentation of the green corridors that are essential for the survival of the pandas. The giant panda has a very low reproductive rate and therefore struggles to recover from a decline in numbers. The overall population of the giant panda is in decline as it is. Bamboo is a poor low energy diet and the panda requires a large area to feed upon. Preserving the panda habitat is crucial to its survival. Can sustainable ecotourism be established in the Wolong Reserve? Already resources are being used to rehabilitate the bamboo ecosystem of the reserve, but is it too late?

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60 Wolong Panda Reserve, new site

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64 Threats to Biodiversity Habitat Change Climate Change Invasive Species Over-exploitation Pollution

65 Given that 6.5 billion humans cannot stop using ecosystems, is there are safe way to use them? A certain level of use (yield) is sustainable be it logging, fishing, hunting etc. This level is the Maximum Sustainable Yield for a species / ecosystem the level at which utilisation by humans does not lead to long term decline in species numbers In reality, taking the MSY leaves no room for error (or climate change, disease etc) The Optimum Yield is lower, and safer in terms of long term sustainability. Sustainable Yield

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