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Wei Yi-Gang’s researching team have made important progress in the biodiversity of Cave-dwelling plants of China


Recently, a research article entitled ‘Discovery of a diverse cave flora in China’ has been published in the international Journal ‘PLOS ONE’ by the joint of Prof. Wei Yigang’s group from Guilin Botanical Garden and Dr. Alex Monro’s group from Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Prof. Wei Yigang is the corresponding author, and Alex Monro, Nadia Bystriakova and Fu Longfei are the co-first author. This is the second important achievement by Wei’s group since their research exhibited by the way of Poster in the conference of Botanical Society of Americain 2012.

        Cave as the special habitat in karst landscape, its plant species diversity has long been ignored by humans.

  This research is supported by numerous funds including the project ofUK's Royal Societynamed ‘Systematics and biogeography of cave-dwelling Elatostema’ joint applied by Wei and Alex in 2009, and the Bentham Moxon Trust for the conservation of species, a Royal Society travel award and Special Funds of the Natural History Museum, London. It was also supported by the STS Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. KFJ-3W-No1) and Wen Fang’s two foundations of Natural Science Foundation of China. Between 2009 and 2015, the authors undertook extensive investigations in karst caves from SW China and collected detail material. Furthermore, they have already published 29 new cave-dwelling species and built a conservation basis for cave-dwelling species in Guilin Botanical Garden and Jinzhongshan, Yongfu, Guangxi.

  Over the course of the study, 61 caves were investigated, 418 species of vascular plants were recorded, 31 (7%) of which being endemic to caves and 37% of which endemic to China. The modeling of species accumulation curves (SAC) indicated that there are likely 529–846 species in the region. The study also assessed the threaten status of investigated caves suggesting that over half are impacted by human activities mainly including tourism, agriculture and mining. Lastly, the authors document plants growing in some of the lowest light levels for vascular plants suggesting a broad range of plants can photosynthesis at much lower light levels than originally thought.

  From 50s to 70s of last century, forests in SW China suffered serious cutting due to the demand for charcoal associated with rapid industrialization and human population growth. The result that 31 species documented known only from caves leads the authors to argue that many of the plants once grew in the ‘understory’ were wiped out by deforestation. This discovery makes these cave and their flora significant and valuable for species conservation in SW China.


  The research was also released in the following websites:

  Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew:

  https://www.kew.org/about-our-organisation/press-media/press-releases/research-reveals-plant-wonderland-in-chinas-caves

  Daily Science:

         https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180207151850.htm

         The Washington post:

         https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/02/21/chinas-caves-are-hiding-plants-that-exist-nowhere-else-in-the-world/?utm_term=.6ed62b84b907

  Link to the paper:

         http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0190801


         The below pictures are the cave-dwelling Gesneriaceae plants.



Wei Yi-Gang’s researching team have made important progress in the biodiversity of Cave-dwelling plants of China

Figure 1 The famous cave, Yangzi Cave in Fengshan County, Guangxi (The type locality of eight new species of cave-dwelling plants)



Wei Yi-Gang’s researching team have made important progress in the biodiversity of Cave-dwelling plants of China

Figure 2 Some figures in this interesting article




Wei Yi-Gang’s researching team have made important progress in the biodiversity of Cave-dwelling plants of China

Figure 3 Some cave-dwelling Gesneriaceae plants. (A.Petrocosmea martini(Lévl.) Lévl.; 2. Petrocodon integrifolius (D.Fang & L.Zeng) A.Weber & Mich.Möller;3. Primulina versicolor F. Wen, B. Pan & B.M. Wang; 4. Allocheilos cortusiflorum W.T. Wang)