Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Hills and Streams

Hills and Streams: An Ecology of Hong Kong

David Dudgeon
Richard Corlett
Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 244
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Hills and Streams
    Book Description:

    Despite centuries of human impact and one the highest population densities on Earth, most of Hong Kong is still rural in character and diverse in terms of flora and fauna. This diversity is threatened, though, by uncontrolled development of previously rural areas. This book aims to contribute to the conservation of the countryside by raising awareness of its value and by providing the scientific basis for its management.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-154-5
    Subjects: Biological Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-ix)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xv-xv)
  5. 1 Evolution and Adaptation
    (pp. 1-6)

    In order to understand why the plants and animals in Hong Kong live where they do, and why they have adopted particular habits and lifestyles, it is helpful to have some knowledge of how evolution has shaped them. Thus this chapter is devoted to a brief account of evolution by natural selection and its importance as a principle underlying ecology. The latter point is illustrated clearly by the number of times that the words ‘evolution’ and ‘evolutionary’ are used in the following chapters.

    Because the evolutionary drama has been played against the backdrop of Hong Kong’s particular environment and history,...

  6. 2 Environment and History
    (pp. 7-24)

    Hong Kong is a self-administered British Dependent Territory on the South China coast. It lies between latitudes 22°09’ and 22°37’N, to the east of the Pearl River (Zhujiang) estuary (see map on front endpaper). Hong Kong consists of a section of the Chinese mainland (Kowloon and the New Territories, 782 km²) and numerous islands, the largest of which are Lantau Island (142 km²), Hong Kong Island (78 km²) and Lamma Island (13.5 km²). The total land area is 1076 km², of which 40 km² is the result of recent land reclamation. The topography is extremely rugged and there is little...

  7. 3 Climate and the Hong Kong Biota
    (pp. 25-32)

    Is Hong Kong tropical? The simplest answer is yes, it is more than 100 km south of the Tropic of Cancer and thus well within the tropics. However, if the question is ‘Does Hong Kong have a tropical climate?’, the answer is less obvious. Hong Kong’s climate has features which are not typical of the tropics as a whole. As noted in Chapter 2, temperatures below 10°C — in the range known to cause chilling damage to sensitive plant species — occur at least a few days every winter, while temperatures below 5°C are recorded several times each decade. A sea-level frost...

  8. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  9. 4 Seasonality
    (pp. 33-62)

    Life-cycle events and fluctuations in the abundance of temperate-zone animals and plants are often seasonal; spring-time breeding, mammalian hibernation, migration by birds, and loss of leaves by deciduous plants during the autumn are familiar examples. Periodic phenomena are also known in the tropical flora and fauna, even in equatorial regions where rainfall and temperature are equable throughout the year. In the seasonal tropics, changes in animal abundance or behaviour, and the timing of leafing, flowering and fruiting by plants, may reflect rainfall patterns, but other factors such as light intensity, phases of the moon or photoperiod may play a role....

  10. 5 Succession and Climax
    (pp. 63-78)

    Compared with most animals, vascular plants are long-lived, sedentary organisms. It is therefore tempting to view vegetation as merely the static matrix through which animals move. Plants are not immortal, however, and the seed stage is highly mobile. Vegetation does change and often with surprising rapidity. Seasonal changes in vegetation and individual plants have been discussed in Chapter 4. Here we are concerned with longer-term changes in the structure and species composition of vegetation and the associated animals. These changes are termed succession.

    It is most convenient to restrict the term succession to unidirectional vegetation change, using other terms for...

  11. 6 Land and Water
    (pp. 79-104)

    Inhabitants of streams and rivers must contend with the unidirectional flow of water from the upper reaches down to the sea. This has the consequence that events upstream affect those downstream, so that running-water habitats do not consist of a series of distinct autonomous sections but rather an interconnected continuum. A second distinctive feature of streams is that they are embedded in terrestrial landscapes and cannot be considered in isolation from their surroundings. Water entering a stream or river has flowed over the land surface or percolated through the soil so that its dissolved and suspended loads reflect, to some...

  12. 7 Foods and Feeding
    (pp. 105-142)

    Living organisms require energy for their activities and matter for their construction. Only green plants can make direct use of solar radiation as a source of energy and simple inorganic molecules as a source of matter. All other organisms, with the minor exception of some autotrophic bacteria, depend on green plants, the primary producers, for food. The key process in primary production is photosynthesis, which takes place only in the chloroplasts. In most algae, all cells have chloroplasts and can photosynthesize. In higher plants, in contrast, a varying proportion of the plant body consists of non-photosynthesizing living cells — functioning in...

  13. 8 Aliens
    (pp. 143-158)

    When people first started clearing patches of forest for cultivation and settlement, an entirely new type of habitat for plants and animals was created. The most distinctive characteristic of this new habitat was that it combined high light intensities with adequate water and nutrients. Tree-fall gaps in forest have these characteristics but they are usually small and always short-lived, with regeneration dominated by woody species. Before the arrival of people, permanent open habitats were confined largely to sites such as cliffs and beaches, where soil conditions prevented the formation of a closed woody canopy, and eroding river-banks, where disturbance kept...

  14. 9 Conservation
    (pp. 159-174)

    Despite the massive human impact described in the previous chapters — deforestation, erosion, fire, hunting, trapping, pollution and the introduction of exotic species — Hong Kong’s flora and fauna are still surprisingly diverse. The Territory supports more native plant species than Britain, more mammals, more reptiles, more amphibians, more fish, more butterflies, more moths, more ants, more dragonflies and damselflies, more . . . the list could go on and on. Furthermore, terrestrial habitats in Hong Kong are, on the whole, better preserved than those in adjacent areas of mainland China. Conservation in Hong Kong is still possible and still worthwhile! The...

  15. Glossary
    (pp. 175-192)
  16. Further Reading
    (pp. 193-200)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 201-212)
  18. Index
    (pp. 213-234)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 235-235)