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The Himalaya harbor rich floristic diversity which is of immense scientific interest and socio-economic importance. In this study, floristic diversity of a remote alpine valley has been studied based on information extracted from remotely sensed satellite data along with field surveys undertaken during 2008–2014. Analysis of vegetation information from satellite data revealed that ∼75% of the area is covered with natural vegetation which comprises lush green coniferous forests, alpine pastures and alpine scrub lands. With inputs from vegetation information extracted from satellite data, comprehensive field surveys were planned to document the floristic diversity of the region. Analysis of species composition showed a total of 285 plant species, belonging to 191 genera in 60 families. Of these, 250 species are herbs, 14 shrubs, 2 sub-shrubs and 19 trees. The dicotyledons are represented by 240 species, monocotyledons 30, gymnosperms 04, and pteriodophytes 11 species. Asteraceae is the largest family with 35 species. During the present study, 5 species (Corydalis cashmeriana, Hippophae rhamnoides, Primula minutissima, Saussurea sacra and Inula orientalis) have been recorded for the first time from this Himalayan region. The study demonstrates the benefits of geo-informatics in floristic studies, particularly the robustness of remotely sensed data in identifying areas with potentially high species richness, which would be otherwise difficult in a complex mountainous terrain using traditional floristic surveys alone. The present study is expected to provide baseline scientific data for cutting edge studies relating to long term ecological research, bioprospecting, possible impacts of changing climate on vegetation and sustainable use of plant resources in this Himalayan region.
Journal of Mountain Science – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 28, 2015
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