Chin Bull Bot ›› 2012, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (6): 551-570.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1259.2012.00551

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Disjunct Distribution of Seed Plants Between Southwestern China and Taiwan Island of China

Zhiduan Chen*, Junsheng Ying, Anmin Lu   

  1. State Key Laboratory of Systematic and Evolutionary Botany, Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China
  • Received:2011-11-29 Revised:2012-02-20 Online:2012-09-04 Published:2012-11-01
  • Contact: Zhiduan Chen

Abstract: The disjunct distribution of plant taxa from southwestern China to Taiwan is of interest in East Asian biogeographic studies. It has received more attention since the publication of all volumes of the Flora of Taiwan (the first and second editions, both in English) and Flora Reipublicae Popularis Sinicae (in Chinese). In total, 50 genera of seed plants show disjunct distribution of species pairs or a species (including subspecies and variety) between southwestern China and Taiwan and 30 show disjunct distribution among Taiwan, Hainan island (through southern Guangdong Province) and southwest China. In all, 41 genera of angiosperms show continuous distribution from Taiwan to southwest China and 35 show continuous distribution from Taiwan to Hainan (and/or South China) or to Fujian Province (and South China). As a continental island, Taiwan had several events of land connection with the Chinese mainland, which resulted in their integrated flora. The uplift of both the Central Montane Region of Taiwan and southwest China through the eastern Himalayan region since the Neogene resulted in mountainous habitats from low, to medium and high altitudes in the 2 regions, with similar physical environmental factors. Therefore, some taxa show a distribution continuum from Taiwan to eastern Himalaya (or vice versa) during the Quaternary glacial period, when the Taiwan Strait landbridge appeared. Later as the earth became warmer, taxa migrated from low to high altitudes. The disjunct distribution of species between Taiwan and southwest China resulted from the extinction of the taxa in eastern to central and South China, which contain no high mountainous habitats for survival. In addition, the vicariance of taxa after the Taiwan Strait landbridge disappeared and the fragmentation of tropical habitats in the most southern China explain this disjunct distribution. Therefore, the taxa with disjunct distribution were divided into 3 types: survival, vicariant and tropical.

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