This BioProvince (as defined by Armen Takhtajan) includes the greater part of the Tibetan Plateau. Bordered by the eastern Pamirs and eastern Hindo Kush Mountains to the west, the Karakorum Range and Himalayas to the south, the Bayan Khara Shan Mountains to the east and the Transalai (Zaalai) Range to the north, it is the highest, largest and youngest plateau on Earth. Its mean elevation exceeds 4500 m and it experiences atmospheric pressure only about 50 to 60 % of that at sea level. During the Quaternary period the area underwent more changes than anywhere else on the planet. The Indian tectonic plate collided with the Eurasian plate causing the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau to rise up from the ancient Tethys Sea. It was uplifted some 200 million years ago. The Qing-Tibet Plateau forms one of the most extensive uplands in the world and includes almost all the world's territory above 4000 m. The bedrock comprises various continental remnants that were added to the Eurasian plate during the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras. The area has a continental climate with very dry cold conditions and great annual and diurnal temperature ranges. In places the mean annual temperature is -10°C and for up to 10 months of the year the mean monthly temperature is lower than 0°C. Most of the area was sterilized during the Pleistocene ice age; consequently its flora is one of the youngest in the Central Asiatic Subregion. Nevertheless, the BioProvince contains about 30 endemic genera and some 1200 endemic species. Altogether about one quarter of all Tibetan species are endemic.
The following accounts for this BioProvince have been written or will be written with particular reference to endemic and locally important species. Accounts available are displayed in green or yellow. Those displayed in red are either in the pipeline or awaiting expert contributions.
|Endemic Vascular Plant Flora|