Folia Geobotanica

, Volume 36, Issue 2, pp 113–129 | Cite as

A biome classification of China based on plant functional types and the BIOME3 model



A biome classification for China was established based on plant functional types (PFTs) using the BIOME3 model to include 16 biomes. In the eastern part of China, the PFTs of trees determine mostly the physiognomy of landscape. Biomes range from boreal deciduous coniferous forest/woodland, boreal mixed forest/woodland, temperate mixed forest, temperate broad-leaved deciduous forest, warm-temperate broad-leaved evergreen/mixed forest, warm-temperate/cool-temperate evergreen coniferous forest, xeric woodland/scrub, to tropical seasonal and rain forest, and tropical deciduous forest from north to south. In the northern and western part of China, grass is the dominant PFT. From northeast to west and southwest the biomes range from moist savannas, tall grassland, short grassland, dry savannas, arid shrubland/steppe, desert, to alpine tundra/ice/polar desert. Comparisons between the classification introduced here and the four classifications which were established over the past two decades, i.e. the vegetation classification, the vegetation division, the physical ecoregion, and the initial biome classification have showed that the different aims of biome classifications have resulted in different biome schemes each with its own unique characteristics and disadvantages for global change study. The new biome classification relies not only on climatic variables, but also on soil factor, vegetation functional variables, ecophysiological parameters and competition among the PFTs. It is a comprehensive classification that using multivariables better expresses the vegetation distribution and can be compared with world biome classifications. It can be easily used in the response study of Chinese biomes to global change, regionally and globally.


Desert Ecoregion Environmental attributes Forest Global change Grassland Vegetation classification 


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Copyright information

© Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jian Ni
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Quantitative Vegetation Ecology, Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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