Species composition, physiognomy and plant diversity of the tropical montane evergreen broad-leaved forest in Southern Yunnan
Biodiversity and Conservation
Species composition, physiognomy and plant diversity of the less known tropical montane forests in southern Yunnan were studied based on the data from 15 sampling plots in three sites. These forests are mainly dominated by the families Theaceae, Fagaceae, Lauraceae and Euphorbiaceae in floristic composition, and dominated by evergreen phanerophytes with mesophyllous leaves. These forests are similar to lower montane rain forests in equatorial southeastern Asia in floristic composition and altitudinal distributions, but differ in physiognomy by having few epiphytes, but more lianas and more plants with compound leaves. These differences could be due to strongly seasonal climate and so-called mass elevation effect in southern Yunnan. They also differ from the tropical seasonal rain forests at lower altitudes in southern Yunnan by having conspicuously lower species richness, few epiphytes, fewer mega-mesophanerophytes, more abundant micro-nanophanerophytes and hemicryptophytes and more plants with microphyllous leaves. It is suggested that these forests could be termed tropical montane evergreen broad-leaved forests, and be a vegetation type from the northern margin of mainland southeastern Asia controlled by a strongly seasonal climate.