A perspective from the past in conservation of plant biodiversity in central China

Publication Name

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment


Biodiversity has increasingly come under threat from human activity everywhere on Earth. China, with over 33,000 species of vascular plants, is a megadiverse region, in part because of its diversity in topography and climates. One of its most extensive biomes is broadleaved evergreen/warm mixed forest which dominates eastern Asia and Central China. There is some debate about how glacial/interglacial cycles across the Quaternary had an impact on this biome. There were certainly broad scale changes in distribution of many key species. Here, we examine the four palaeoecological records from Central China that contain both LGM and Mid-Holocene vegetation records and consider the degree of biodiversity in Central China with the aim of developing a broad overview of the history on plants in the region. It is clear that in the mountainous regions of Central China, many taxa survived the LGM in situ, showing that there was enough stable habitat to support key species. Some mountainous areas have high degrees of endemism which suggests that fragmentation of populations across glacial/interglacial cycles may have been an important component in favoring speciation. The consideration of past records and modern species distributions have significance in selecting conservation areas.

Open Access Status

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Article Number


Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Natural Science Foundation of China



Link to publisher version (DOI)