DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1145.2013.00561

Chinese Journal of Appplied Environmental Biology (应用与环境生物学报) 2013/19:4 PP.561-568

The Function of Cushion Plants in Alpine Ecosystems: Patterns and Mechanisms

Cushion plants are generally considered as foundation species in alpine ecosystems. As ecosystem engineers they can improve micro-environment and establish habitats for other alpine plants, thus playing an important role in biodiversity maintenance and nutrient cycling. This review started with the environmental features specific to alpine ecosystem. Then we reviewed the facilitation of cushion plants on the establishment and survival of alpine plants and communities. The patterns and mechanisms of facilitation along stress gradients were generalized. At last we advocated future research directions for cushion plants in terms of response to climate change, species interaction change, patterns and processes of alpine communities.

Key words:cushion plants,foundation species,ecosystem engineer,facilitation,community pattern,alpine ecology

ReleaseDate:2014-07-21 16:55:53

Funds:National Nature Science Foundation of China (Nos. 31070391, 30700080)