Evergreen sclerophyllous Quercus forests in northwestern Yunnan, China as compared to the Mediterranean evergreen Quercus forests in California, USA and northeastern Spain
Evergreen sclerophyllous Quercus forests in NW Yunnan (China) were studied and compared with the Mediterranean evergreen sclerophyllous Quercus forests in central coastal California (USA) and Catalonia (NE Spain). Forests of Q. aquifolioides, Q. pannosa, Q. longispica of NW Yunnan, Q. agrifolia of California and Q. ilex of NE Spain were analyzed as representative communities. The similarities and differences at the community level in the contemporary vegetation of the sclerophyllous Quercus forest found in the three regions are clarified. The general patterns of the evergreen Quercus forest in the three regions were similar, though different assemblages of species were involved. The species diversity in all three regions was rather low. The species richness did not significantly differ among the forests, although in the Q. longispica forest it is somewhat higher than the others. The three representative species of evergreen Quercus in NW Yunnan reached the greatest maximum height, while Q. agrifolia of California had the largest basal area per ha. The Q. ilex forest of Spain had the lowest values for maximum tree height and dbh and the highest density per ha. Frequency of dbh size classes indicated that Q. aquifolioides, Q. pannosa, and Q. agrifolia had potentially good regeneration of the sporadic type with highest values for the intermediate size classes, and the regeneration of Q. longispica and Q. ilex was strong as indicated by a reverse-J pattern. Still, in each area, most regeneration was from sprouting. In all three regions the evergreen Quercus species have adapted to environmental changes, for instance by development of sprouting and rooting abilities to resist drought, cold conditions and various disturbances. The evergreen Quercus forests in NW Yunnan were structurally more similar to the Q. agrifolia forest of central coastal California than to the Q. ilex forest of NE Spain.