The Qinling/Qin/Nashan is a mountain range that stretches from west to east of China’s Northwest province of Shanxi. The range is sometimes referred to as the Szechuan Alps. The Qin mountains not only demarcate the boundary between China's north and south regions but it also supports a variety of plant and animal’s species some of which are native to the mountains. The Wei River valley river is located on the north end of the range. The valley plays a crucial role in China’s history as it is one of the ancient civilization centers. On the western part of the Qui are the mountains of the Tibetan plateau so are the Dabie Shan and lower Funiu. Ancient Chinese kingdoms used the mountain as a defense barrier from invading nomads from the north. Mount Taibai with an altitude of 12,359 ft. , is the highest mountain in the range, and in eastern China.
The Qin Mountains separate the plains of north-central China from the Sichuan Basin. They face north are therefore subjected to strong and cold winter winds. The annual precipitation is between 850-950 mm, but in some places, the precipitation drops to about 700mm. The north edge of the mountain range is known to experience hotter weather than the other parts. The semi-arid climate limits the number and types of species that can thrive in the area.
The foot of the range is covered by deciduous forests which give way to coniferous forests as the elevation increases. Unlike the lowlands to the north, the forests of Qui mountains is preserved as a natural resource by the government of China. The deciduous forests are characterized by maples, elm, walnut, ash, and Celtis spp. These trees are congeneric with those in European forests, but the taxonomic diversity is higher compared to Europe’s. The coniferous forest belt occurs just above the deciduous forest belt. They are characterized by pines, birch and several species of the oak. At altitudes of between 8,500 to 9,800 ft these species give way to subalpine vegetation such as fir, larch, and birch. About 3,000 species of plants have been documented on the mountains including native species such as the Ginkgo and the Armand pine.
The mountains are home to the Qinling panda which is a species of the giant panda. The panda is a protected species and has been classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. About 250-280 pandas inhabit the forests. Other animal species include the golden takin, the Temminck's tragopan, golden eagle, the golden pheasant, and the clouded leopard. The mountains are also home to the Chinese giant salamander which has also been declared nearly endangered although the local people hunt it for food and medicinal purposes.
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