Mountains in the Chaning World, Mountains in the Chaning World

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Tree species composition at six forest types along an altitudinal gradient in a tropical wet evergreen forest of the Western Ghats, India: A Global hotspot
Anoop Das

Last modified: 2017-08-30

Abstract


To recognize the nature and distribution of various vegetation types, it is necessary to have an accurate area inventory, species composition list, and classification of plant communities. In a sub-tropical forest of the Western Ghats, we investigated the spatial variation of rainforest tree community structure and composition to establish if forest structure and diversity is varied as a function of altitude. In the present study, we describe the structure and composition of tropical forest in Silent Valley National Park (SVNP) with emphasis on the different altitudes and habitats. Three major habitats in the study area were selected based on elevation between 900 and 2300 msl. The major habitats were grasslands and evergreen forests at an altitude below 1400 m. Between 1400 and 1800 m, broadleaved hill forests were dominant. Above 1800 m, Shola forest was observed and above 2000 m Shola forest interspersed with the grasslands were prominent. All trees greater than 30 cm diameter were marked and measured in sixty 20 x 20 m plots in the forest across the elevational gradient of 900 to 2300 msl. We identified and tagged 1872 individuals with 152 species of trees belonging to 109 genera in 41 families. Forest structure and composition varied significantly across altitudinal gradient. We elucidate patterns of forest structure and diversity in the context of the disturbance, topography, logging and altitude. We conclude with the argument that conservation of forest across the altitudinal gradient is essential to maintain the forest structure to ensure the uninterrupted gene flow.


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