High species diversity is often accompanied with and supported by a diversified stand structure in species-rich natural forests. However, the relationship between species diversity and stand structural diversity is less examined in species-poor forests. In montane forests on Loess Plateau of north-central China in a semi-arid climate zone, canopy species diversity and vertical structure of 57 broadleaves, conifer and mixed stands, with varying stand ages and site conditions, were randomly sampled. Canopy species diversity was represented by Shannon's index (H'). Stand structural diversity was represented by two indices respectively, i.e. coefficients of variation of diameter measurements at breast height (CVdbh) and Shannon's index of diameter classes (H'dbh). Structural equation models (SEMs) were constructed to explore multiple relationships between stand structural diversity and canopy species diversity, stand age and elevation. Both stand structural diversity indices increased directly with H' and stand age. However, indirect positive effect of stand age via increasing H' was only significant on CV. H'dbh provided positive feedback on H', while effect of stand age was only indirect via increasing structural diversity. Elevation significantly affected coefficients of variation of diameter, which was probably a sampling effect due to narrow distribution of broadleaves-conifer stands in altitudinal range. In conclusion, the results showed that stand structural diversity and canopy species diversity and stand age are closely associated with the species-poor montane forests like these on Loess Plateau of north-central China.
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Vol. 65 • No. 2