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Potential distribution of Qinghai spruce and assessment of its growth status in the upper reaches of the Heihe River in the Qilian Mountains of China

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Author(s): PENG Shou-Zhang | ZHAO Chuan-Yan | XU Zhong-Lin | WANG Chao | LIU Yi-Yue

Journal: Chinese Journal of Plant Ecology
ISSN 1005-264X

Volume: 35;
Issue: 06;
Start page: 605;
Date: 2011;

Keywords: fundamental niche | Picea crassifolia | potential distribution | resource utilization

ABSTRACT
Aims Study of the spatial distributions of species is important to biogeography. Studies can provide the foundation for ecological conservation and restoration. Therefore, our objective is to estimate Qinghai spruce’s (Picea crassifolia) potential distribution and assess its growth status in the upper reaches of the Heihe River in the Qilian Mountains of China.Methods We built a biogeographical model of Qinghai spruce in environmental resource space at three dimensions based on concepts of Hutchinson’s n-dimensional hypervolume and relationships between species and resource utilization. The model requires data on species distribution and environmental variables important in the growth of the species. Data on the distribution of Qinghai spruce were obtained using Landsat TM data with supervised classification and decision-trees technology. The three most important environmental variables, i.e., mean growing season air temperature, mean annual precipitation and solar radiation, were spatialized with GIStechnology.Important findings The optimal combination of the three environmental variables (mean growing season air temperature, mean annual precipitation and solar radiation) in the area of Qinghai spruce distribution is 9 °C, 360 mm and 1.9 × 103 kW·h·m–2, respectively. The model is built to estimate Qinghai spruce’s potential distribution in a large area and to assess the species’ growth status at corresponding geographical positions. Our model provides a universal function that incorporates multiple environmental variables to estimate the species’ potential distribution and growth status in other regions.
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