J Syst Evol ›› 2014, Vol. 52 ›› Issue (3): 378-396.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12092

• Reviews • Previous Articles    

Survival and reproduction of plant species in the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau

1Hang SUN†* 1Yang NIU 1,3Yong-Sheng CHEN 1Bo SONG 1Chang-Qiu LIU 1,2,3De-Li PENG 1Jian-Guo CHEN 1Yang YANG*   

  1. 1(Key Laboratory for Plant Diversity and Biogeography of East Asia, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China)
    2(Institute of Ecology and Geobotany, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China)
    3(University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China)
  • Received:2014-02-22 Published:2014-05-09

Abstract: The Qinghai–Tibet Plateau (QTP) is the highest and largest plateau in the world. It covers correspondingly wide geological, topographical, and climatic gradients, and thus hosts greater biodiversity than surrounding lowlands and other high elevation regions. Due to its extreme environmental and biological diversity, the QTP is an ideal region for studying adaptations of plant species under harsh environmental conditions at multiple evolutionary levels. Many recent ecological studies have revealed functions of distinctive morphological features of various plants in the region that improve their reproductive success. Examples include large and showy bracts, hairy inflorescences, and drooping flowers. Numerous other investigations have examined QTP plants' sexual systems, patterns of biomass allocations, and biotic interactions. This paper summarizes recent advances in understanding of morphological adaptations, plant–plant interactions, plant–pollinator interactions, floral color patterns, pollination adaptations, and resource allocation patterns of alpine plants of the QTP. The overall aim is to synthesize current knowledge of the general mechanisms of plant survival and reproduction in this fascinating region.

Key words: adaptation and evolution, plant species, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.