The Gaoligongshan Mountain National Natural Reserve, covering an area of more 400,000 hectares, ranges along the China-Myanmar borderline, and is well-known worldwide as one of the world's biodiversity treasure houses.
In collaboration with US and UK counterparts, the biologists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have carried out a 5-year project in the nature reserve of the Gaoligongshan Mountains in southwest China's Yunnan Province since 1999. So far, they have achieved great progress in the biotic surveys and inventory.
According a primary statistics provided by Prof. Li Heng from the CAS Kunming Institute of Botany (KIB), 4,303 species of seed plants, 699 species of vertebrate animals and 1,690 species of insects have been described, among which 61 plant species and 81 animal species are listed in China's Redbook as rare and endangered species.
Because of its rich bio-diversity, this reserve is regarded as a Mecca for taxonomists in pursuit of new knowledge about the living kingdom. A number of botanical expeditions were implemented as early as in the beginning of the 19th century by missionaries, plant hunters or botanists, such as Kingdon-Ward (UK), George Forrest (UK), Heinrich Handel-Mazzetti (Austria ) , and some Chinese botanists, Yu Te-tsun (T. T. Yu ), Tsai Hse-tao (H. T. Tsai ) , Wang Chi-wu (C. W. Wang ), and Feng Kuo-mei (Feng). Upon the official ratification of the UNESCO, the land-locked mountainous enclave succeeded in making its way into the name list of the World Biosphere's Protection Network in 2001.
Under the auspices of the US Californian Academy of Sciences, this project was implemented throughout a multidisciplinary and trans-sectoral approach. The teamwork includes the researchers from three institutions of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (namely, the Kunming Institute of Zoology, the Institute of Botany, the Institute of Zoology), Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh (RBGE), Hunan Normal University and Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics & Archaeology. Funded by the US National Science Foundation and the US National Geographic Society, an international consortium for the project has organized scientists to realize the following objectives:
To carry out two expeditions in different seasons each year to collect biological specimens from native fauna and flora as well as materials about local natural history (the on-the-spot collection covers specimens and samples of insects, anthropods, vertebrate animals, lichen, fern and seed plants in addition to their ecological settings); To undertake intensive study and review of the specimens and publish relevant research results; To strengthen the exchange of junior researchers between China and foreign participant countries; and, To provide professional training for the reserve's staff members.
The US donation totals about $2 million. However, because of its promising prospects, the project also receives funding grants from the two CAS institutes in Kunming in a bid to expand its research scope.
The Kunming Institute of Botany hosts and organizes both botanical and entomological surveys in this project. From 2002, this project has been officially supported by a number of Chinese agencies, such as the State Administration Bureau of Forestry, the Department of Forestry of Yunnan Province, the government of Baoshan City, the government of Nujiang and Lisu Nationality's Autonomous Prefecture, the Baoshan and Nujiang administration bureaus of the Gaoligongshan National Reserve and the Chinese Academy of Sciences and its Kunming Branch. By last May, four expeditions have been carried out in Gongshan County, Baoshan City, Tengchong County, Fugong County, respectively, and 7,000 collections of vascular plants, 5,000 of bryophytes and nearly 8,000 insects have been gathered. The investigative achievements fill the research gap in the Baoshan City and Fugong County. Besides, a complete set of specimens have been kept in the relevant administration bureaus of the Gaoligongshan National Reserve, and 4-6 staff from the reserve agencies were selected to participate in the field work for on-site training. Since 2002, there are a dozen research papers have been published by the scientists from home and abroad.
The Kunming Institute of Zoology conducts to zoological research for the project. During the two months from last March and May, a 13-member expedition was formed under the joint sponsorship of the institute and US Californian Academy of Sciences. The surveys target birds, small beasts and fish. The investigation covers the western scope of the Mountains in Lushui County ( Pianma and Yaojiaping), leading to a collection of 295 entries of bird specimens in 69 species, 290 entries of small-sized beasts in 20 species and 994 entries of fish in 18 species.
As the project is being implemented in a smooth and guaranteed way, more progresses and research results are expected in the coming years.