Sexual Systems and Ecological Correlates in an Azonal Tropical Forests, SW China

Authors

  • Xin-Sheng Chen,

    1. Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yunnan 666303, China
    2. Graduate University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, China
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  • Qing-Jun Li

    Corresponding author
    1. Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yunnan 666303, China
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Corresponding author; e-mail: qjli@xtbg.ac.cn

ABSTRACT

Unlike the seriate lowland rain forests in SE Asia, the tropical vegetation of Xishuangbanna (SW China) has developed in habitats with comparatively lower temperatures and precipitation. Consequently, although most of the families and genera of the flora are components of tropical ecosystems, many have reached their distribution limits in latitude. Selection pressures on sexual systems in these environments may be different from that experienced in lowland tropical regions. Here, we examine the sexual systems of 685 species of flowering plants belonging to 109 families and 356 genera based on 42 plots with a total area of 15.4 ha and compare our results with surveys of sexual systems from other tropical ecosystems. Among these species, 60.6 percent were hermaphroditic, 14.3 percent were monoecious, and 25.1 percent were dioecious. The percentage of dioecious sexual system among tree species (26.1%) was similar or higher than that of other tropical tree floras. Monoecy was significantly associated with the tree growth form and was relatively common in seasonal forest vegetation. Sexual systems involving unisexual flowers (dicliny) are particularly well represented in the tropical forests of Xishuangbanna accounting for 39.4 percent of all species surveyed. This pattern may be associated with the prevalence of relatively small inconspicuous flowers in the tropical forests of SE Asia and their correlation with diclinous sexual systems generally.

Abstract

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