Geological History, Flora, and Vegetation of Xishuangbanna, Southern Yunnan, China

Hua Zhu, Min Cao and Huabin Hu
Biotropica, 2006 vol. 38 no 3 pp. 310-317
DOI: 10.1111/j.1744-7429.2006.00147.x
Abstract: Xishuangbanna of southern Yunnan is biogeographically located at a transitional zone from tropical Southeast (SE) Asia to subtropical East Asia, and is at the junction of the Indian and Burmese plates of Gondwana and the Eurasian plate of Laurasia. The flora of the region consists of a recorded 3336 native seed plant species, belonging to 1140 genera in 197 families, among which 83.5 percent are tropical genera and 32.8 percent are endemic to tropical Asia, suggesting a strong affinity to tropical Asian flora. The vegetation of Xishuangbanna is organized into four forest types: tropical rain forest, tropical seasonal moist forest, tropical montane evergreen broad-leaved forest, and tropical monsoon forest. The tropical rain forest in Xishuangbanna has the same floristic composition of families and genera as some lowland equatorial rain forests in SE Asia, and is dominated (with a few exceptions) by the same families both in species richness and stem dominance. The exceptions include some deciduous trees in the canopy layer, fewer megaphanerophytes and epiphytes, and a higher abundance of lianas and microphyllic plants. We consider the tropical rain forest of Xishuangbanna as a type of tropical Asian rain forest, based on their conspicuous similarities in ecological and floristic characteristics.