Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

Altitudinal changes of surface pollen and vegetation on the north slope of the Middle Tianshan Mountains, China


To provide information on vegetation patterns and altitudinal distributions of pollen assemblage in surface soil layers, their complicated relationships in a dryland mountain-basin system in northwestern China and a realistic basis for paleovegetational reconstruction, we investigated 86 vegetation quadrats and analyzed 80 soil samples from the surface soil layers along an altitudinal transect on the north slope of the Middle Tianshan Mountains from alpine cushion vegetation at 3,510 m near glacier to desert vegetation at 460 m in the Gurbantunggut Desert. According to surface pollen assemblages and the results of the detrended correspondence analysis, the transect can be divided into six major altitudinal pollen zones as alpine cushion vegetation, alpine and subalpine meadows, montane Picea forest, forest-steppe ecotone, Artemisia desert and typical desert, which basically reflect the characteristics of the mountainous vegetation patterns on the north slope of the Middle Tianshan Mountains. However, Picea pollen also exists outside the spruce forest, Chenopodiaceae and Artemisia pollen appeared above the elevation of 1,300 m, indicating that most of them might be introduced from lower elevations by upslope winds. Airborne pollen researches from three regions at different elevations further suggest that a high-frequency northwest anabatic wind has a remarkable influence on the transportation and dispersion of surface pollen in the area.


altitudinal transect; vegetation zone; pollen assemblage; Picea forest; the Middle Tianshan Mountains

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