The Rangeland Journal The Rangeland Journal Society
Rangeland ecology and management
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Distribution pattern of poisonous plant species in arid grasslands: a case from Xinjiang, Northwestern China

Hong-Xiang Zhang A , Ming-Li Zhang A B D and Yong Wang A C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Key Laboratory of Biogeography and Bioresource in Arid Land, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China.

B Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100093, China.

C University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China.

D Corresponding author. Email: zhanghx561@ms.xjb.ac.cn; zhangml@ibcas.ac.cn

The Rangeland Journal 39(3) 279-287 https://doi.org/10.1071/RJ16018
Submitted: 8 March 2016  Accepted: 4 June 2017   Published: 23 June 2017

Abstract

Poisonous plants threaten the ecosystem health of grasslands and the sustainability of animal husbandry. In arid lands, grassland ecosystems tend to be vulnerable and have been degraded due to the influence of human activities. The total area of the natural grasslands in Xinjiang, a large region in arid north-western China, ranks third in terms of area in China. In the process of grassland degradation, poisonous plants have spread widely and quickly in this region. During recent years, increasing economic losses have been caused by poisonous plants in Xinjiang. Although poisonous plants have been reported at some specific locations, their spatial patterns have rarely been investigated at a large regional scale. To understand the current status of hazards and assess the invasion risks of poisonous plants, we sampled ~150 poisonous plant species from Xinjiang and modelled the present and the future (the 2050s and the 2070s) distribution of 90 species using species distribution modelling. Based on the distribution maps of these poisonous plants, four diversity hotspots of poisonous plants were identified in Xinjiang. The results showed that northern Xinjiang had higher levels of poisonous plant diversity compared with the other part of Xinjiang. The precipitation factors had the most influence on prediction of the poisonous plants distributions in the species distribution modelling. Under the scenarios of future climate change, the results of modelling showed that regions close to the four hotspots of poisonous plants in Xinjiang displayed higher risks of invasion by poisonous plants in the future. In addition, these areas with a high risk of plant invasion will become increasingly large. We propose that policy makers consider implementing monitoring and prevention measures in areas identified as having a high risk of future invasion by poisonous plants.

Additional keywords: arid northwestern China, future environmental changes, grasslands, poisonous plants, Xinjiang.


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