Prof. (Dr.Shufeng Li

Current official address

Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden

Chinese Academy of Sciences

Menglun, Mengla,

Yunnan 666303, China

Tel & Fax: +86-0691-8713226


Research Areas

My research focuses on palynology, paleoclimate numerical simulation, and simulation of vegetation and plant diversity. Specifically, I am dedicated to understanding the effects of environmental change on vegetation dynamics throughout the Cenozoic era. At the core of my research lies the fundamental question: "How does long-term environmental change shape the evolution of vegetation and plant diversity?" Through interdisciplinary research integrating data-model simulations, I explore the evolution of vegetation and biodiversity of regions such as Yunnan, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and the Eurasian continent. This exploration allows me to uncover the impacts of significant geological structures and environmental climate changes, such as the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the retreat of the Tethys Sea during the Neogene period, on ecosystems, vegetation, and plant diversity.


09/2011- 06/2015 PhD (Ecology), Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Yunnan, China. Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Zhe-kun Zhou.

PhD thesis: Miocene palaeovegetation, palaeoclimate and palaeofire from Wenshan Basin, Yunnan Province.

Award: Chinese academy of sciences, Zhu Li Yuehua outstanding doctoral scholarship.

09/2002-06/2005 MS (Botany), Xinjiang institute of ecology and geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xinjiang, China.

09/1998-06/2002 BS (Biology), Shihezi University, Xinjiang, China.


Selected peer-reviewed publications

Spicer, R.A., Farnsworth, A., Su, T., Ding, L., Witkowski, C.R., Li, S.F., Xiong, Z., Zhou, Z., Li, S., Hughes, A.C. and Valdes, P.J., 2025. The Progressive Co-evolutionary Development of the Pan-Tibetan Highlands, the Asian Monsoon system and Asian Biodiversity. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 549(1), pp.SP549-2023.

Zhang, R., Huang, L.L., Li, S.F., Su, T. and Oskolski, A.A., 2024. Fossil woods of Cryptocarya (Lauraceae) from the middle Miocene of Southwest China. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 324, p.105096.

Tang, H., Cui, H., Li, S.F., Spicer, R.A., Li, S.H., Su, T., Zhou, Z.K., Witkowski, C.R., Lauretano, V. and Wei, G.J., 2024. Orbital-paced silicate weathering intensity and climate evolution across the Eocene-Oligocene transition in the southeastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau. Global and Planetary Change, p.104388.

Nguyen, H.B., Huang, J., Van Do, T., Nguyen, H.M.T., Li, S.F., Nguyen, M.T., Doan, H.D., Zhou, Z.K., Spicer, R.A. and Su, T., 2024. Monsoon influence on plant diversity in northern Indochina: Evidence from the late Miocene Yen Bai flora, northern Vietnam. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 634, p.111925.

Huang, L., Li, S., Huang, W., Jin, J. and Oskolski, A.A., 2024. Late Pleistocene glacial expansion of a low-latitude species Magnolia insignis: Megafossil evidence and species distribution modeling. Ecological Indicators, 158, p.111519.

Xiao, S., Li, S., Huang, J., Wang, X., Wu, M., Karim, R., Deng, W. and Su, T., 2024. Influence of climate factors on the global dynamic distribution of Tsuga (Pinaceae). Ecological Indicators, 158, p.111533.

Huang L.L., Li S.F., Huang W.Y., Xiang H.L.L., Jin J.J.*, Oskolski A.A. (2023). Glacial expansion of cold-tolerant species in low latitudes: megafossil evidence and species distribution modelling. National Science Review, 10, nwad038.

Shufeng Li, Jiagang Zhao, Alex Farnsworth, Paul J. Valdes, Jian Huang Jia Liu, Zhekun Zhou, Tao Su (2023). The growth of the Tibetan Plateau shaped hydrologic cycle andecosystem in eastern Asia: Progress and perspectives. Chinese Science Bulletin (Chinese Version) 68, 15671579.

Xiao, S.M., Li, SF*., Wang, X.J., Chen, L.L., Su, T.* (2022). Cedrus distribution change: past, present, and future. Ecological Indicators, 142, 109159.

Zhao, J.G., Li, S.F.*, Farnsworth, A., Valdes, P. J., Reichgelt, T., Chen, L.L., Zhou, Z.K., Su, T.* (2022). The Paleogene to Neogene climate evolution and driving factors on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Science China Earth Sciences, 65(7), 1339-1352.

Li, S.F.*, Valdes, P. J., Farnsworth, A., Davies-Barnard, T., Su, T., Lunt, D. J., Spicer, R. A., Liu, J., Deng, W.Y.D., Huang, J., Tang, H., Ridgwell, A., Chen, L.L., Zhou, Z.K.* (2021). Orographic evolution of northern Tibet shaped vegetation and plant diversity in eastern Asia. Science Advances, 7(5), eabc7741.

Li, S.F., Xing, Y.W.*, Valdes, P. J., Huang, Y.J., Su, T., Farnsworth, A., Lunt, D. J., Tang, H., Kennedy, A. T., Zhou, Z.K.* (2018). Oligocene climate signals and forcings in Eurasia revealed by plant macrofossil and modelling results. Gondwana Research, 61, 115–127.

Chen, L.L., Deng, W.Y.D., Su, T., Li, S.F.*, Zhou, Z.K.* (2021). Late Eocene sclerophyllous oak from Markam Basin, Tibet, and its biogeographic implications. Science China Earth Sciences, 64(11), 1969–1981.

Tang, H., Li, S.F.*, Su, T., Spicer, R. A., Zhang, S.T., Li, S.H., Liu, J., Lauretano, V., Witkowski, C. R., Spicer, T. E. V., Deng, W.Y.D., Wu, M.X., Ding, W.N., Zhou, Z.K.* (2020). Early Oligocene vegetation and climate of southwestern China inferred from palynology. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 560, 109988.

Farnsworth, A.*, Valdes, P.J., Ding, L., Spicer, R.A., Li, S.H., Su, T., Li, S.F., Witkowski, C.R., Xiong, Z. (2023). Limits of oxygen isotope palaeoaltimetry in Tibet. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 606, 118040.

Zhang, X.W., Gélin, U., Spicer, R.A., Wu, F.X., Farnsworth, A., Chen, P.R., Del Rio, C., Li, S.F., Liu, J., Huang, J., Spicer, T.E.V., Tomlinson, K.W., Valdes, P.J., Xu, X., Zhang, S.T., Deng, T., Zhou, Z., Su, T.*, 2022. Rapid Eocene diversification of spiny plants in subtropical woodlands of central Tibet. Nature Communications,13, 3787.

Del Rio, C., Wang, T., Li, S.F., Jia, L.B., Chen, P.R., Spicer, R. A., Wu, F.X., Zhou, Z.K., Su, T.* (2022). Fruits of Firmiana and Craigia (Malvaceae) from the Eocene of the Central Tibetan Plateau with emphasis on biogeographic history. Journal of Systematics and Evolution, 60(6), 1440-1452..

Su, T.*, Farnsworth, A., Spicer, R. A., Huang, J., Wu, F.X., Liu, J., Li, S.F., Xing, Y.W., Huang, Y.J., Deng, W.Y.D., Tang, Xu, C.L., Zhao, F., Srivastava, G. Valdes, P. J., Deng, T., Zhou, Z.K.* (2019). No high Tibetan plateau until the Neogene. Science Advances, 5(3), eaav2189.

Liu, J., Wang, T.X., Zhang, X.W., Song, A., Li, S.F., Huang, J., Spicer, T., Spicer, R. A., Wu, F.X., Su, T.*, Zhou, Z.K. * (2021). Snapshot of the Pliocene environment of West Kunlun region, Northwest China. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, 101(1), 163–176.

Tang H, Liu J, Wu F-X, Spicer TEV, Spicer RA, Deng W-Y-D, Xu C-L, Zhao F, Huang J, Li SF, Su T*, Zhou Z-K*, 2019. The extinct genus Lagokarpos reveals a biogeographic connection of Tibet with other regions in the Northern Hemisphere during the Paleogene. Journal of Systematics and Evolution, doi: 10.1111/jse.12505.

Xu C-L, Su T*, Huang J, Huang Y-J, Li S-F, Zhang Y-S, Zhou Z-K*, 2018. Occurrence of Christella (Thelypteridaceae) in Southwest China and its indications of the paleoenvironment of the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau and adjacent areas. Journal of Systematics and Evolution, 57: 169-179.

Zhao F, Fan Z-X*, Su T, Li S-F, Tang H, Spicer TEV, Zhou Z-K*, 2019.Tree-ring δ18O inferred spring drought variability over the past 200 years in the Hengduan Mountains, Southwest China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 518: 22-33.

Li, S.F., Hughes, A.C.*, Su, T., Anberrée, J.L., Oskolski, A.A., Sun, M., Ferguson, D.K., Zhou, Z.K.*, Fire dynamics under monsoonal climate in Yunnan, SW China: past, present and future. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 2017.1.1, 465: 168~176.

Linnemann, U.*, Su, T., Kunzmann, L., Spicer, R.A., Ding, W.-N., Spicer, T.E.V., Zieger, J., Hofmann, M., Moraweck, K., Gärtner, A., Gerdes, A., Marko, L., Zhang, S.-T., Li, S.-F., Tang, H., Huang, J., Mulch, A., Mosbrugger, V., and Zhou, Z.-K. “New U-Pb Dates Show a Paleogene Origin for the Modern Asian Biodiversity Hot Spots.” Geology, 2017, 46(1), 3-6.

Tiwari, A., Fan, Z.-X., Jump, A.S., Li, S.-F., Zhou, Z.-K.*, Gradual expansion of moisture sensitive Abies spectabilis forest in the Trans-Himalayan zone of central Nepal associated with climate change. Dendrochronologia, 2017, 41:34-43.

Li, S.-F., Jacques, F.M., Spicer, R.A., Su, T., Spicer, T.E., Yang, J., Zhou, Z.-K.*, Artificial neural networks reveal a high-resolution climatic signal in leaf physiognomy. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 2016, 442, 1-11.

Lebreton-Anberrée, J., Li, S.H. *, Li, S.-F., Spicer, R.A., Zhang, S.-T., Su, T., Deng, C.L., Zhou, Z.-K.*, Lake geochemistry reveals marked environmental change in Southwest China during the Mid Miocene Climatic Optimum. Science Bulletin, 2016, 61, 897-910.

Lebreton-Anberrée, J., Manchester, S.-R., Huang, J., Li, S.-F., Wang, Y.-Q., Zhou, Z.-K., First Fossil Fruits and Leaves of Burretiodendronl. (Malvaceae s.l.) in Southeast Asia: Implications for Taxonomy, Biogeography, and Paleoclimate. International Journal of Plant Sciences, 2015, 176(7):682-696

Li, S.F., Mao, L.M., Spicer, R.A., Lebreton-Anberrée, J., Su, T., Sun, M., Zhou, Z.-K.*, Late Miocene vegetation dynamics under monsoonal climate in southwestern China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology,2015, 425, 14-40.

Research funding

2024.1-2027.12 Paleoclimate, paleovegetation and plant diversity changes during the late Paleogene in Jianshui basin, Yunnan, NSFC, No. 42372033

2024.01-2028.12 The evolution of Cenozoic plant diversity in Yunnan and key driving factors, NSFC international cooperation project, NO. 42320104005

2023.01-2027.12 The Young and Middle-aged Academic and Technical Leaders of Yunnan, Department of Science and Technology of Yunnan Province,No. 202305AC160051

2022.12-2027.11 Cretaceous-Paleogene deep carbon cycle and “hot Earth” evolution (Project Three): hot Earth vegetation, plant Diversity, and ecological responses, the National Key Research and Development Program, No. 2022YFF0800800

2019.01-2023.12 Special project of The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition program: Coevolution of Biology and Plateau Uplift, Ministry of Science and Technology, No. 2019QZKK0705

2018.10-2023.12 Key Periods of Earth's History and Evolutionary Processes of Organisms and Environments: Origin of Modern Plant Diversity in China – Evidence from Fossils, Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Subproject B), No. XDB26000000

2019.1-2022.12 The evolution of paleovegetation and biodiversity in the early Oligocene in the central region of Yunnan, Yunnan Provincial Natural Science Foundation General Project, No. 2019FB061

2018.1-2021.12 Early Oligocene palaeovegetation and palaeoclimate changes from Lühe, Yunnan. NSFC, No. 41772026

2017.1-2020.12 The evolution of vegetation and biodiversity change during the Paleogene and early Neogene. Sina‒UK (NSFC-RCUK_NERC) Collaborative Research, No. 41661134049

2015.7-2018.6 The Miocene palaeofire reconstruction in Wenshan Basin, Yunnan Province. The Foundation of the State Key Laboratory of Paleobiology and Stratigraphy, Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, No. 153107.


University of Bristol



肖书妹  硕士研究生  071300-生态学  

陈琳琳  硕士研究生  071300-生态学  


孟江波  硕士研究生  071300-生态学  

方晓琪  硕士研究生  071300-生态学  

肖书妹  博士研究生  071300-生态学  

Honors & Distinctions

The First-Class Natural Science Award of Yunnan Province, 2023

Top Ten Advances in Chinese Palaeontology in 2023

Zhu Li Yuehua Excellent Doctoral Student Scholarship of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2015

Academic Positions

Editorial Board Member of Journal of Earth History and Biodiversity

Visiting academic at the University of Bristol, UK

Master's supervisor at Yunnan University