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EABCN
East Asia Biodiversity Conservation Network

Publications

Book

Title

Important Plants of East Asia : Plants tell stories

Introduction

In East Asia, forests stretch from their northern limit at the boundary with the tundra in the Arc-tic, along the coast of the Pacific, to lush tropical forests. These forests form an uninterrupted green belt that separates humid coastal areas of the Pa-cific from the permanently arid areas of Mongolia. In the far north, the forest is dormant for at least several months of the year and blanketed in winter snows. Tropical areas are always warm, but are still seasonal because of the influence of the Asian monsoon. Wide variations in humidity, tempera - tures, longevity of growing season and amount of precipitation create a great diversity of ecologi - cal conditions supporting alder, dwarf-pine, birch, spruce, fir, hardwood humidity-dependent forests, sclerophylle woodlands and deserts that accom - modate biota with different evolutional histories and adaptation strategies. In this study, we focused on different aspects of life and investigated how species live and share the resources of this large region, as well as how they survive the harsh and changing environment and increasing anthropo - genic impact. From the great aridization in the Pleistocene to the present area, vegetation in East Asia has been subjected to transitional dry and humid conditions from the Arctic to tropical zones. Migrations of the drought-tolerant Central Asian species have en - riched the derivates of ancient boreo-nemoral (Arc - to-Tertiary) ecosystems, which occupied niches va - cated by humidity-dependent species during a very short period of drought in the growing season. Therefore, moisture in northern Asia has been the most important resource to rainforests in the last 2.5 million years. Humid oceanic regions in every bio - geographical realm as well as elevated habitats in montane areas are able to provide conditions that support the longest uninterrupted latitudinal for - est gradient on the Pacific coast, which varies from subarctic dwarf forests to tropical forests. East Asia is an area of over 20 million km2 ranging from 20° N to 73° N latitude and 169° W to 90° E longitiude. This region has many contrasts in terrain, climate and vegetation. The terrain of the area varies from the worlds largest plains to extensive mountain systems as high as 8000 m above sea level. In addition, five of the 10 largest rivers in the world occur in this region ; namely, the Yanze, Huanhe, Ob’, Mecong, Amur, and Lena, which deliver fresh water from the center of Asia to the Arctic and Pacific oceans and cross the entire region, uniting it as one great ecosystem. The ba-sins of the great rivers are bordered by well distin - guished mountain chains, such as the Ural Moun - tains, Altai, and the great Tibetan Plateau, which create very large and well intergated ecosystems at a continental scale. -

Create date 2020-10-30 13:48:27

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