Shangri La Alpine Botanical Garden

Yunnan, China

Shangri La Alpine Botanical Garden

Yunnan, China
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Gunn B.F.,Missouri Botanical Garden | Gunn B.F.,Australian National University | Aradhya M.,University of California at Davis | Salick J.M.,Missouri Botanical Garden | And 4 more authors.
American Journal of Botany | Year: 2010

Walnuts are a major crop of many countries and mostly cultivated in large-scale plantations with few cultivars. Landraces provide important genetic reservoirs; thus, understanding factors influencing the geographic distribution of genetic variation in crop resources is a fundamental goal of agrobiodiversity conservation. Here, we investigated the role of human settlements and kinship on genetic variation and population structure of two walnut species: Juglans regia, an introduced species widely cultivated for its nuts, and J. sigillata, a native species cultivated locally in Yunnan. The objectives of this study were to characterize sympatric populations of J. regia and J. sigillata using 14 molecular markers and evaluate the role of Tibetan villages and kin groups (related households) on genotypic variation and population structure of J. regia and J. sigillata. Our results based on 220 walnut trees from six Tibetan villages show that although J. regia and J. sigillata are morphologically distinct, the two species are indistinguishable based on microsatellite data. Despite the lack of interspecific differences, AMOVAs partitioned among villages (5.41%, P = 0.0068) and kin groups within villages (3.34%, P = 0.0068) showed significant genetic variation. These findings suggest that village environments and familial relationships are factors contributing to the geographic structure of genetic variation in Tibetan walnuts. © 2010 Botanical Society of America.

Haynes M.A.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Haynes M.A.,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Fang Z.,Shangri La Alpine Botanical Garden | Waller D.M.,University of Wisconsin - Madison
Journal of Plant Ecology | Year: 2013

AimsThe eastern Himalayan region of Southwest China represents the world's most biodiverse temperate region as well as a cultural hotspot undergoing rapid cultural and ecological change. This area represents the center of origin for many plant groups including horticulturally valuable species of Pedicularis, Rhododendron and Primula. Alpine meadows here also provide summer pastures for Tibetan yak herders and the source for important medicinal plants. Stocking levels for livestock here have quadrupled over the last five decades and shrubs are encroaching into many historical rangelands. Yak herders voice concerns over both shrub encroachment and shrinking grasslands. In this study, we sought to determine: (i) Are alpine rangelands in Deqin County overgrazed and degraded? (ii) What are the local impacts of grazing on plant diversity and community composition? And (iii) which environmental variables covary with these differences in species composition across the grazing gradient?MethodsTo examine the ecological impacts of grazing in Deqin County, northwest Yunnan and assess its long-term sustainability, we used county records to determine historical population and livestock numbers, confirmed the results of interviews by Haynes (2011) and surveyed plant species richness and cover along a grazing gradient extending away from herder huts. Along these transects, we sampled 1m 2 quadrats at 5 m intervals, noting species present and percent cover for vascular plants, grasses, sedges, rushes, moss, lichen, exposed rock, bare ground and feces. We also measured the average and maximum plant height within each quadrat. We then computed species richness for each of the 38 transects, calculating alpha and beta diversities. We used one-way ANOVAs to compare mean species richness values and average and maximum plant height across grazing intensities. To chart changes in composition along the 100m gradient, we also plotted the percent cover of graminoid, forb, shrub and bare ground versus distance from the hut. We applied NMS ordination to relate community patterns to environmental variables and grazing intensity using distances to determine species groupings.Important FindingsLivestock impacts are clearly evident with proportions of grass and bare ground decreasing, shrubs increasing and forbs maintaining even cover with increasing distance from the huts. In comparison with earlier surveys of sites farther from huts, we found reduced plant cover and diversity. Plant species richness almost doubles with increasing distance from herder huts from 9.9 to 19.3 species per 1 m2 quadrat. An ordination of species and environmental variables demonstrates that grazing strongly affects plant community com position across these plots with strong impacts on palatable plants. If herd sizes remain large and suitable areas for grazing continue to decline, the cumulative impacts of grazing appear likely to degrade the rich diversity of the region and reduce rangeland quality, threatening its ability to sustain current grazing levels. © 2012 The Author 2012. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Botanical Society of China. All rights reserved.

Amend A.,University of California at Berkeley | Garbelotto M.,University of California at Berkeley | Fang Z.,Shangri La Alpine Botanical Garden | Keeley S.,University of Hawaii at Manoa
Conservation Genetics | Year: 2010

Tricholoma matsutake, a wild edible ectomycorrhizal mushroom, is revered for its distinguished flavor and iconic significance. Here, we test for landscape effects on T. matsutake gene flow and population structure in the Eastern Himalayas. Using single-nucleotide polymorphic (SNP) DNA markers, isolation by distance patterns were tested on eight populations within and between watersheds. We find that high, treeless ridgelines are effective barriers to gene flow, even at distances less than 65 km, whereas populations located within watersheds are structured at greater distances. Mantel tests demonstrated a significant positive correlation between Fst and a "landscape distance" measured as the shortest distance between population pairs below treeline r = 0. 574, P = 0. 002, whereas strict euclidian distances do not correlate. AMOVA analysis revealed significant partitioning with 91% of the genetic variance found within populations and 7% found between watersheds, indicative of sexually recombining populations with limited gene flow between watersheds. We show that landscape is an important determinant of air-dispersed ectomycorrhizal species population structure in heterogeneous landscapes. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Brandt J.S.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Brandt J.S.,University of Michigan | Wood E.M.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | Pidgeon A.M.,University of Wisconsin - Madison | And 3 more authors.
Biological Conservation | Year: 2013

Identifying and protecting "keystone structures" is essential to maintain biodiversity in an increasingly human-dominated world. Sacred forests, i.e. natural areas protected by local people for cultural or religious regions, may be keystone structures for forest birds in the Greater Himalayas, but there is limited understanding of their use by bird communities. We surveyed birds and their habitat in and adjacent to six Tibetan sacred forests in northwest Yunnan China, a biodiversity hotspot. Our goal was to understand the ecological and conservation role of these remnant forest patches for forest birds. We found that sacred forests supported a different bird community than the surrounding matrix, and had higher bird species richness at plot, patch, and landscape scales. While we encountered a homogeneous matrix bird community outside the scared forests, the sacred forests themselves exhibited high heterogeneity, and supported at least two distinct bird communities. While bird community composition was primarily driven by the vegetation vertical structure, plots with the largest-diameter trees and native bamboo groves had the highest bird diversity, indicating that protecting forest ecosystems with old-growth characteristics is important for Himalayan forest birds. Finally, we found an increased bird use of the sacred forests and their edges during 2010, a severe drought year in Yunnan, indicating that sacred forests may serve as refuges during extreme weather years. Our results strongly indicate that sacred forests represent an important opportunity for Himalayan bird conservation because they protect a variety of habitat niches and increase bird diversity at multiple spatial scales. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Amend A.,University of California at Berkeley | Fang Z.,Shangri La Alpine Botanical Garden | Yi C.,University of Michigan | McClatchey W.C.,University of Hawaii at Manoa
Biological Conservation | Year: 2010

Matsutake mushrooms are among the most prized and expensive mushrooms on earth. Since the 1980s NW Yunnan Province has become the largest exporter of Matsutake in China, and money from their sale has become crucial to local livelihoods and to the provincial tax base. Amid fears of declining productivity, regulations have been enacted to control Matsutake harvest, though enforcement remains largely in the hands of harvesters themselves. Here, we measure local harvesters' perceptions of the ecological determinants of mushroom productivity in contrast to that of the outsider conservation community. We interview 122 harvesters in eight villages in Diqing province, NW Yunnan to determine what is perceived to be detrimental to Matsutake yield, how yield can be improved in the future and who harvesters trust for information. Our results indicate that village leaders and forestry officials are overwhelmingly the most trusted sources for information. Mann and Whitney U tests show general consensus among villages, and MRPP analysis shows general consensus within villages. One village showed significantly higher levels of trust in NGOs. Of the 86% of harvesters who had perceived declining productivity trends over the past 10 years, soil disturbance, climate change, and habitat degradation were most often-cited as causal factors. Log-linear analysis showed almost no significant interactions between perceptions and harvester demographics. Environmental protection and reducing soil disturbance were most often-cited as potentially increasing future yields. We suggest that local and outsider knowledge are complimentary in this system, and that forestry officials and village leaders provide the best conduits for management information. © 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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