Keywords: Canonical correspondence analysis, Elevation, Environmental variables, Species density, West Himalaya
Present study is an attempt to understand the plant species abundance and habitat preferences using multivariate method in Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (NDBR), in western Himalaya. Soil, altitude, slope and differences are reported to be the most important parameters shaping the plant community in the mountains. Two representative areas i.e., Pindari–Sunderdhunga–Kafni site (PSK) of Kumaun region and Lata–Tolma–Phagti site (LTP) of Garhwal region with nineteen forest communities in buffer zone of NDBR have been investigated. All the forest communities were analyzed for assessing community composition and species density in relation to environmental variables. Out of 451 plant species recorded from the study sites, there was a dominance of herbs (70.5%) followed by shrubs (17.7%) and trees (11.8%). Maximum tree density in PSK and LTP sites was recorded in Betula utilis (535 ind ha−1) and mixed T. wallichiana–A. pindrow (1211 ind ha−1) communities respectively. The disturbed habitats in low to mid elevation areas are represented by low canopy cover and high seedling density in PSK site and high non-native species density in LTP site. Both the study sites are dominated by Betula utilis, Taxus wallichiana, Abies pindrow in high elevation areas securing high density of native and endemic species. Habitat preferences of different important species indicate their range of distribution and choice of association with other species.
Authors are grateful to the Director of GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment, Kosi-Katarmal, Almora and Vice Chancellor, Graphic Era Hill University for providing necessary facilities to carry out this work and encouragement. Sincere thanks go to Dr. Sanjay Gairola, Dr. K. Chandrasekar and Dr. Vikram S. Negi for time to time support during field visits and MS preparation. We also thank the local inhabitants for their generous help during extensive field visits. Sincere acknowledgment goes to SERB (TAR/2018/001033), Govt. of India for the financial support BR.