K301 Felix

New opportunities for biodiversity conservation in rural China?

(Oral and Poster)

Jan C. Axmacher
Yi Zou
Weiguo Sang
Yunhui Liu
Zhenrong Yu


Many conservationists associate China with substantial environmental problems linked to the country’s rapid economic development and the associated pollution and exploitation of its natural resources. Nonetheless, recent migrations of large parts of China’s rural population into the booming cities has created vast, increasingly depopulated rural areas, in turn allowing the central government to instigate a series of measures aimed at improving the environmental conditions of rural landscapes across the country. These measures range from a strict protection of remaining mature forests to a restructuring of rural landscapes through globally unprecedented reforestation campaigns that are commonly aimed at reducing soil erosion and flooding. The potential of the resulting landscape changes to enhance biodiversity and associated ecosystem services has received limited attention to date. Here, we present results from our studies of plant, predatory ground beetle and geometrid moth assemblages and of their diversity patterns across forested and agricultural landscapes in northern and north-eastern China over the last decade. We illustrate the potential of secondary and plantation forest landscape to harbor insect and plant assemblages of similar, or even higher species richness in comparison to assemblages recorded in large mature forests remnants, and we demonstrate a strong local recruitment patterns of species assemblages in our study region. We also show that turnover across the different taxonomic groups is highly linked to climatic conditions and the wider landscape context, while cross-taxon links are generally weak. We discuss the implications of our findings for the conservation and potential enhancement of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services across the study region.