Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 77 ›› Issue (9): 2236-2248.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202209007

• Clamate Change and Agricultural Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The finding and significance of the super altitudinal belt of montane deciduous broad-leaved forests in central Qinling Mountains

ZHANG Baiping1(), YAO Yonghui1(), XIAO Fei2, ZHOU Wenzuo3, ZHU Lianqi4, ZHANG Junhua4, ZHAO Fang4, BAI Hongying5, WANG Jing1,6, YU Fuqin1,6, ZHANG Xinghang1,6, LIU Junjie1,6, LI Jiayu1,6, JIANG Ya1,6   

  1. 1. State Key Laboratory of Resources and Environmental Information System, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. Innovation Academy for Precision Measurement Science and Technology, Wuhan 430071, China
    3. Southwest University, Chongqing 400715, China
    4. Henan University, Kaifeng 475004, Henan, China
    5. Northwest University, Xi'an 710127, China
    6. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2022-01-05 Revised:2022-07-29 Online:2022-09-25 Published:2022-11-03
  • Contact: YAO Yonghui;
  • Supported by:
    National Scientific and Technological Basic Resources Investigation Project(2017FY100900)


Mountain altitudinal belts are the miniature of horizontal differentiation and succession of climatic and vegetational zonation. However, altitudinal belts' vertical range, transition model, inner structure and combining pattern vary from place to place. In Mt. Taibai of the central section of China's north-south transitional zone, we have found an altitudinal belt with the largest range in the world, namely, the montane deciduous broad-leaved forest, which extends continuously from the mountain base to about 2800 m, including basal oak belt, typical oak belt of two sub-belts and cold-tolerant pioneer birch belt of two sub-belts, which could otherwise develop independently. Characterized by a "three layers and five sub-belts" structure, this "super altitudinal belt" is much vertically broader than the threshold of 1000 m for normal altitudinal belts. Its formation is closely related with its transitional geographic location, integral spectrum of altitudinal belts in central Qinling Mountains, rich and diverse species of deciduous woody plants, and their strong competitiveness. The finding of the super altitudinal belt has multiple significance: Its existence is another significant physio-geographic feature of China's north-south transitional zone; it shows that an altitudinal belt may have rather complex inner structure and broad vertical range in some special mountain environment. This broadens our understanding of altitudinal belt structures and their mechanisms, and is of great significance for developing structural theory for montane altitudinal belts. This finding also demonstrates that there are many big questions for us to explore and study in the north-south transitional zone, and it is expected that our finding could trigger in-depth study of local climate and biodiversity responsible for the formation of this super belt, and of the complex structure and ecological effect of China's north-south transitional zone.

Key words: super altitudinal belt, China's north-south transitional zone, Qinling Mts., spectrum structure of altitudinal belts, vertical range of altitudinal belts