China's Beech Forests in the Pre-Quaternary
Abstract. Fagus in China is never dominant in Late Cretaceous and Tertiary floras although it might reach its highest diversity in the Miocene. The genus Fagus was more widely distributed during the Palaeogene than in the Neogene. Furthermore, the ecological requirements of Fagus in the Palaeogene seem much broader than those in the Neogene onwards. This is because the Palaeogene floras containing Fagus lived in various conditions from an arid and hot climate to a humid and warm habitat. Additionally, Fagus then coexisted with many kinds of hygrophilous, thermophilous and xerophilous plants. However, the wide distribution, broad ecological adaptation and species composition changed greatly in the Neogene. The Neogene Fagus-containing floras are slightly more similar to the modern beech forests than the Palaeogene ones, although a big difference remains. Chinese fossil data document the post-Tertiary development of the modern beech forests.