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International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management Vol. 6, Nos. 3–4, September–December 2010, 146–156 Impact of degradation on biodiversity status and management of an alpine meadow within Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, Uttarkashi, India a∗ b a Ranjeet Kaur , Venita Joshi and Shambhu P. Joshi a b Department of Botany, DAV (PG) College, Dehradun, India; Department of Botany, Advance Institute of Science and Technology, Dehradun, India This study investigates the biodiversity status of degraded and intact sites at Har-ki-Dun alpine meadow in the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park, India, between altitudes of 3200 and 3900 m. This vast alpine meadow is extensively used for tourist campsites, illegal medicinal and aromatic plant extraction and grazing by local villagers. The increasing pressure of grazing, along with abrupt observed climatic changes and natural stress in the form of cloud bursts, has had a marked impact on biodiversity of the area. Meadow degradation was mapped using satellite data IRS P6 LISS-III and PAN merged data. We studied the biodiversity status and extent of degradation at various degraded and intact sites. The degraded sites were classiﬁed into ‘naturally degraded’ and ‘anthropogenically degraded’. The Har-ki-Dun alpine meadow occupies 2 2 about 55 km , out of which 22 km are in different states of degradation. We recorded 93 species in intact sites against 73 in naturally degraded and 76 in anthropogenically degraded sites, with varying frequency and density of palatable and unpalatable species. A total of 25% of the plant species in the intact protected site were not recorded in the naturally degraded sites, and 23% did not occur in the anthropogenically degraded sites. We recommend the restoration of each degradation category, according to the area’s suitability for grassland protection, fodder cultivation and farming of medicinal plants. Keywords: diversity; alpine meadow; degradation; grazing; mapping; unpalatable been adversely affected by high tourist inﬂux and illegal Introduction medicinal plant extraction. The consequences of ever- The Himalaya is at the juncture of the Indo-Malayan increasing anthropogenic pressure on ecosystems pose a and Indo-Chinese biogeographical realms and includes major research challenge to conserve ecosystem processes both Himalayan and Peninsular Indian elements (Khoshoo and interactions. Difﬁcult accessibility in certain parts of 1991). The Himalayan region, along with contiguous the meadow provides a rare opportunity for studies of rel- regions in China and Southeast Asia, served as an evolu- atively undisturbed vegetation. Some studies have been tionary cradle for ﬂowering plants (Takhtajan 1969). The conducted on the problems related to overgrazing in alpine Himalaya is therefore considered as a major biodiversity pastures, erosion, ecosystem degradation, fodder quality, as centre in the world (Khoshoo 1992). well as effects of controlled nature protection on vegetation The alpine zone in the Himalaya covers nearly 33% (Kaul and Sarin 1971; Naithani 1992; Chakravarty-Kaul of the geographical area in the region, of which about 1995; Swallow and Bromle 1995; Gebremedhin et al. 2004; 26% is vegetated and the remaining 7% is under perpet- Kala 2004; Nautiyal et al. 2005). There have been several ual snow (State Forest Report 1989). The alpine region studies on ﬂoral characteristics and biomass production in of the Western Himalaya is rich in plant diversity and alpine meadows (Joshi and Srivastava 1988; Joshi et al. is considered as a hot spot for plant endemism, with 1988b; Ram et al. 1988, 1989; Sundriyal and Joshi 1990, approximately 1750 endemic species (Nautiyal et al. 2001). 1991; Srivastava and Kumar 1995; Rawat 1998; Kala Genetic and species diversity, forage production, medici- 2004). Comparison of community composition and species nal plant resources, soil conservation, nutrient cycling and diversity in ungrazed and grazed meadows was done by greenhouse gas regulation are only some examples of ser- Joshi et al. (1988a, 1991) and Kala (2004). Other ﬂoris- vices that alpine meadows provide. Altitudinal, climatic tic studies of alpine landscapes have been undertaken, and soil factors are deemed to be primary determinants including those of Rawat and Pangtey (1987), Pangtey of change in species composition and community struc- et al. (1990), Joshi and Raizada (1990) and Ram and Arya ture in undisturbed mountains (Whittaker 1975). Natural (1991). disturbances (Sousa 1984; Arno et al. 1985) and biotic Disturbance modiﬁes landscape, ecosystems, commu- interactions (Armand 1992) also play important roles in nities, population structure and biodiversity with time, determining species composition. resulting in degradation. Baseline data on ﬂoristic and In the Western Himalaya, the vegetation in alpine structural patterns are critical for ensuring the sustainable meadows has been severely disturbed due to continuous management of any area. The area in which transhumance indiscriminate grazing and trampling. More recently, it has *Corresponding author. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ISSN 2151-3732 print/ISSN 2151-3740 online © 2010 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/21513732.2011.568972 http://www.infomaworld.com International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 147 takes place and which grazers visit must be able to support vegetation into various degradation categories, and a slope their animals and also provide plants for other diverse pur- map of the study area was extracted from the Shuttle Radar poses. Despite a harsh climate, short growing season and Topography Mission data in a geographical information relatively low palatability of biomass, these areas sustain a system (GIS) environment. Slopes were categorised into ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ high livestock population. Rapid cattle population growth six classes: <15 , 15–25 , 25–35 , 35–45 , 45–60 and coupled with increased tourist inﬂux and over-exploitation >60 . of medicinal plant resources have led to deterioration of The grasslands were classiﬁed according to Jensen this fragile ecosystem and a reduction in biodiversity of (2005). Initially, the satellite images that only included the area. grassland area were classiﬁed using the ISODATA algo- As biodiversity is complex and no single indica- rithm unsupervised classiﬁcation. This algorithm helps in tor can capture all dimensions of biodiversity, different examining unknown pixels in an image and aggregates indicators need to be integrated into a common frame- them into a number of classes based on natural group- work (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005; Mace ings of the image values. The alpine area vegetation pixels and Baillie 2007; Spangenberg 2007). This study is were identiﬁed based on colour, from light red to pink. an attempt to analyse alpine vegetation under different The map prepared with this classiﬁcation was subject to stress or environmental conditions and compared it with ﬁeld veriﬁcation and collection of class signatures. The protected vegetation in the same landscape to exam- grassland vegetation was later reclassiﬁed into four classes, ine the impact of degradation on ﬂoristic diversity of non-degraded, moderately degraded, degraded and severely area and to investigate measures to conserve these alpine degraded, using the maximum likelihood algorithm of the meadows. supervised classiﬁcation with signatures of the respective classes. These signatures were obtained for the above cat- egories of grassland degradation from various locations during the ﬁeld survey. The other landscape categories Study site interpreted were rock outcrops and rivers (Figure 2). The Har-ki-Dun alpine meadow is located in the upper Automatic clustering (unsupervised classiﬁcation) was reaches of Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park mainly used for preliminary selection of classes in map- ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ (30 30 –31 17 N and 77 58.5 –77 37.5 E) between alti- ping, as their performances are sometimes low, especially if tudes of 3200 and 3900 m (Figure 1). It is located in Purola they are applied in heterogeneous areas (Dang et al. 2003; Tehsil, Uttarakashi district, Uttarakhand State, India, and Servenay and Prat 2003). Hence, we used the supervised lies within the Tons Forest Division. It was notiﬁed under classiﬁcations in combination with unsupervised classiﬁ- G.O. No. 720/14-725/1953 22 March 1955. It covers over cation, which gave more satisfactory results for quanti- an area of 957.97 km and was named after Bharat Ratna tative analyses on degraded areas (Dwivedi et al. 1997; Shri Govind Ballabh Pant. Considering the biological and Mathieu et al. 1997; Floras and Sgouras 1999; King et al. geomorphological importance of the area, Govind National 2005; Beguera 2006; Vrieling et al. 2007). The selection of Park, covering an area of 472.08 km , was carved from the adequate training pixels was based on in-depth knowledge sanctuary under gazette notiﬁcation no. 394/14-3-13/86, of the study area and careful analyses of the separability 26 February 1990. of spectral signatures. Furthermore, for interpretation and There are 42 villages located in Govind Wildlife analysis of degradation area on different slopes, the degra- Sanctuary and National Park, and villagers are usually dation map was intersected with a slope map to obtain the settled along the river, with the highest village being Osla, slope-wise degradation area. at 2700 m, some distance above this village the subalpine The degradation map prepared using satellite data forest starts, which ﬁnally ends in Har-ki-Dun alpine was used for ground truthing and exhaustive ﬁeld sur- meadow. Har-ki-Dun is regarded as the repository of many vey in 2006–2007. This map helped to further classify the medicinal plants. It also provides habitat for many rare and degradation into two categories, anthropogenic and abiotic endangered species of both plants and animals. The vege- degradation, based on visual interpretation. For studying tation in this area is characterised by dwarf shrubs, cushion the biodiversity status in degraded and protected sites, var- plants and herbaceous ﬂowering plants like Potentilla, ious ecological parameters were evaluated. For this two Anemone, Gentiana, Primula and Saxifraga spp., which degradation sites were selected, that is, anthropogenically are the most colourful herbs of the area. The area is degraded and naturally degraded, plus one protected site. the central attraction for tourists, trekkers, naturalists, The plant species diversity and soil parameters in the phytogeographers and ecologists. However, no published degraded areas were compared with those at the protected data are available on ecological parameters of vegetation in site. In the ‘anthropogenically degraded’ site more grazing this area. pressure and tourist activity, as well as illegal extraction of medicinal and aromatic plants, was recorded. The natu- rally degraded site experienced natural stress in the form Materials and methods of cloud burst and landslides. The relatively intact site, The satellite data IRS P6 LISS-III and PAN merged data due to inaccessibility and remoteness, was recognised as with a spatial resolution of 5.8 m were used to classify the protected. 148 R. Kaur et al. Uttarkashi Rudraprayag TehriÁGarhwal Chamoli Dehradun Pithoragarh Bageshwar PauriÁGarhwal Haridwar Almora Nainital UdhamÁSinghNagar Uttarakhand India Figure 1. Map of the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary and National Park (study area). Vegetation analysis of the above sites was carried out where H is index of species diversity, p is the proportion using1m × 1 m quadrats for herbs. The size and number of ith species and s is the number of individuals of all the of quadraes were determined following Misra (1968). species. Plant specimens were carefully collected, numbered and Simpson index of dominance (1949): preserved in the ﬁeld for each quadrat. Identiﬁcation was done with the help of the Ecology Research Laboratory C = , Herbarium, Dehradun, as well as the Botanical Survey of India, Northern Circle Herbarium, Dehradun, and the where n is the importance value of the species in terms Herbarium of the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun. The of number of individuals and N is total correspond- study was carried out in May, July and September, con- ing importance values of all the species in the same sidering the 6 month (May–October) growing season in area. the alpine zone of the Western Himalaya. Other vegetation Species evenness was calculated following the formula parameters were evaluated according to standard formulas: of Pielou (1966): Evenness (J) = , Diversity ln s The diversity in communities was determined with the where H is the Shannon–Wiener diversity index and s is Shannon–Wiener index (Shannon and Wiener 1963). This the number of species. assumes that individuals are randomly sampled from an Five growth forms were recognised: short forbs indeﬁnitely large population and that all the species from a (<30 cm), tall forbs (>30 cm), cushion forbs, grasses community are included in the sample. It was calculated as and sedges. The palatable and unpalatable species were differentiated on the basis of personal observations and interaction with locals. Further plant species were sepa- Shannon–Wiener diversity index (H ) =− p ln p , i i rated into different life forms following Raunkiaer’s (1934) i=1 International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 149 78°23′24″E 78°26′0″E78°28′36″E78°31′12″E78°33′48″E78°36′24″E 31°12′0″N 31°12′0″N 31°9′24″N 31°9′24″N 31°6′48″N 31°6′48″N 78°23′24″E78°26′0″E78°28′36″E78°31′12″E78°33′48″E 78°36′24″E Severely degraded grassland Rock outcrop Degraded grassland River Moderately degraded grassland Non-degraded grassland Figure 2. Degradation map of the Har-ki-Dun alpine meadow, showing various degradation and land-cover categories. classiﬁcation. Composite soil samples were collected from Table 1. Land-use/land-cover area under different degradation categories. the representative sites, from different depths (0–10, 20–30 and 30–40 cm). The pH (soil:water, 1:5) was determined Degradation category Area (km)Area(%) with a pH meter. Soil organic carbon was determined using the Walkley and Black method (Walkley and Black River 1.24 2.28 Rock outcrop 8.10 14.87 1934). Non-degraded grassland 23.58 43.31 Moderately degraded grassland 5.77 10.60 Degraded grassland 4.30 7.90 Results Severely degraded grassland 11.46 21.05 Analysis of the satellite image classiﬁcation revealed that Total 54.46 100 the Har-ki-Dun alpine meadow occupies 54.56 km ,of which 4.30 km is degraded grassland, followed by mod- erately degraded grassland (5.77 km ), severely degraded 2 2 grassland (11.46 km ) and 23.58 km of non-degraded site. Soils were mostly moderately acidic in nature. This alpine meadow. Rocky outcrops cover 15% and rivers could be due to leaching of bases from the soil due occupy 2% of the area (Table 1). Figure 2 represents the to high precipitation. The soil organic carbon content spatial distribution of degradation in the study area. The was in the range 5.3–9.8%. The highest organic car- extent of grassland varied with slope, with an increase bon was in the protected site and the lowest in the in area of grassland at higher elevations on moderate naturally degraded site, where soils were eroded and slopes (Table 2). The maximum area under in the severely less developed. The protected site had maximum vegeta- ◦ 2 degraded category was on slopes of 15–25 (6.51 km ), tion and canopy cover (90%), with Pedicularis puncata, the maximum degraded area was on slopes of 25–30 Phleum alpinum and Persicaria polystachya as domi- (1.48 km ) and the moderately degraded area was on slopes nant taxa. Vegetation cover (herbaceous) was least (30%) ◦ 2 of 15–25 (1.99 km )(Table3). in the naturally degraded site with a very high dis- The selected study sites for the studied ecological turbance level and Rumex acetosa, Myriactis wallichii parameters were almost at the same altitude, latitude and and Geum elatum as dominant taxa, whereas Cirsium longitude (Table 4). Noticeable differences in physiochem- verutum, Impatiens racemosa and Rumex nepalensis were ical properties of soil were observed in anthropogeni- found in the anthropogenically degraded site with 60% cally degraded sites when compared with the protected canopy cover. There were more families, genera and 150 R. Kaur et al. Table 2. Land-use/land-cover area under different slope classes. Slope ( ) Number Land-use/land-cover class <15 15–25 25–35 35–45 45–60 >60 Total area (km ) 1 Grassland [area (km )] 7.61 14.20 12.20 10.06 1.70 0.34 46.11 2 Rockoutcrop – –––– – 8.10 3 River – –––– – 1.24 Table 3. Degradation under various slope classes. Degradation categories (km ) Slope ( ) Non-degraded area Moderately degraded area Degraded area Severely degraded area <15 1.64 0.60 0.32 3.01 15–25 7.49 1.99 1.07 6.51 25–35 9.56 1.79 1.48 5.43 35–45 3.99 1.03 1.09 3.59 45–60 0.74 0.35 0.26 2.08 >60 0.15 0.10 0.07 0.43 Total area (km ) 23.58 5.77 4.30 21.05 Table 4. General characteristics of the selected sites in Har-ki-Dun. Canopy Disturbance Organic Site category Location Dominant taxa cover (%) level Depth (cm) pH carbon (%) Naturally Altitude 3496 m Pedicularis 90 Low 0–10 5.8 8.5 protected Latitude 31 08 57.9 puncata, Longitude 78 26 03.4 Phleum alpinum and Persicaria 20–30 5.2 7.4 polystachya 40–50 5.1 8.6 Naturally Altitude 3561 m Rumex 30 Very high 0–10 5.6 6.4 degraded Latitude 31 08 37.1 acetosa, Longitude 78 26 45.7 Myriactis 20–30 6.3 5.3 wallichii and Geum 40–50 6.2 6.2 elatum Anthropogenically Altitude 3519 m C. verutum, 60 High 0–10 5.8 7.5 degraded Latitude 31 08 59.6 Impatiens 20–30 5.7 7.3 Longitude 78 25 46.1 racemosa and Rumex nepalensis 40–50 5.9 9.8 species in the protected site. Most dicot species (89.19%) the naturally and anthropogenically degraded sites are in were recorded in the naturally degraded site, with most retrogression. monocots (12.68%) in the anthropogenically degraded Among growth forms, there were most short forbs in all site (Table 5). Among non-ﬂowering vascular plants, the three sites and 70.33% in the protected site. Tall forbs one gymnosperm and one pteridophyte was recorded in were another signiﬁcant contribution to the vegetation. The the protected site only. The diversity of herbs ranged protected site had no sedges, but these were recorded in from – 2.16 to –3.07 (Table 6) in naturally and anthro- both degraded sites. More chamaephytes were found on the pogenically degraded sites in Har-ki-Dun, with a greater protected site, while the degraded sites had more hemicryp- diversity of herbs than in the protected site, as disturbance tophytes due to the inﬂuence of anthropogenic factors. The promoted more unpalatable species, which suggests that region is represented mostly by forbs that are primarily International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 151 Table 5. Biodiversity at various levels of taxa in sites at Har-ki-Dun. Har-ki-Dun Protected Naturally degraded Biotically degraded Monocot Dicot Monocot Dicot Monocot Dicot Division Rank No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % No. % Angiosperm Family 5 14.71 25 73.53 5 17.86 23 82.14 5 18.52 22 81.48 Genus 8 11.59 57 82.61 7 12.28 50 87.72 7 11.86 52 88.14 Species 10 10.75 79 84.95 8 10.81 66 89.19 9 12.68 62 87.32 Gymnosperm Family 2 5.88 – – – –––––– – Genus 2 2.89 – – – –––––– – Species 2 2.15 – – – –––––– – Pteridophyte Family 2 5.88 – – – –––––– – Genus 2 2.89 – – – –––––– – Species 2 2.15 – – – –––––– – Table 6. Diversity, dominance and evenness data of various sites in the study area. Har-ki-Dun Protected Naturally degraded Biotically degraded Variable Tree Shrub Herb Tree Shrub Herb Tree Shrub Herb Shannon–Weiner index NR NR −2.32 to −2.85 NR NR −2.14 to 3.33 NR NR −2.16 to −3.07 of diversity Simpson index of NR NR 0.09 to 0.28 NR NR 0.04 to 0.21 NR NR 0.07 to 0.11 dominance Pielou index of NR NR 0.65 to 0.75 NR NR 0.61 to 0.89 NR NR 0.71 to 0.87 evenness Note: NR, not recorded. adapted to reproducing mainly through underground peren- information for effective degradation restoration measures. nating organs. The classiﬁcation approach can be applied to ecosystems Asteraceae was dominant in the protected site (16 where degradation and disturbance regimes have changed species), closely followed by Polygonaceae (11 species) the ﬂoristic elements, to predict the range of characteris- and Poaceae (13 species). This site also had the maxi- tic space occupied by native species that can exist under mum species richness (93 species) and number of fami- the present conditions, as well as successful invaders. The lies (34 families). In the protected site, 57 species were approach can also be used to identify indicator species that reported to be palatable out of a total of 93 species. The could be useful for further monitoring. anthropogenically degraded site had least (48) palatable As a consequence of natural-or human-induced mod- species. In both the anthropogenically degraded and nat- iﬁcations, pressure on biodiversity has led to a change in urally degraded sites indicator species such as I. racemosa, state. Monitoring a given species or set of species can indi- I. brachycentra, R. acetosa and R. nepalensis have success- cate the level of biodiversity (Maes and Van Dyck 2005; fully invaded, replacing the indigenous ﬂora. A total of 85 Wittig et al. 2006; Schroder et al. 2008). The method species (57.43%) were palatable and 63 species (42.57%) proposed in this paper aimed at highlighting biodiversity were unpalatable (Table 7). issues, the lack of informative data and the lack of planning support tools characterised by ease of use and usefulness. The impact of degradation on vegetation was studied Discussion in terms of signiﬁcant differences in species composition and diversity in degraded and protected areas. The diversity The results of this study show how satellite remote sensing indices reported in this study fall within the range reported and GIS analysis combined with ground-truth informa- for alpine regions (Rawat 1998). The prime management tion help to provide valuable information on land cover concern on this area is control of degradation. According to and degradation. Studying the utilisation of resources and the Land Survey Department report and a socio-economic allocation for minimising degradation requires mapping. survey conducted in this area, we have inferred that the Mapping and classiﬁcation of degradation using GIS and region is facing high grazing pressure. Grazing intensity ground information enabled assessment of the extent of can be estimated from soil characteristics at a given degradation and its spatial distribution. This is essential 152 R. Kaur et al. Table 7. Diversity of vegetation at the rank of species in various sites. Name of species PA/UP ND AD P Life form Growth form Acogonum alpinum (All.) Schur. UP – + –Th TF Agrostis pilosula Trin var. royleana (Trin) Bor. PA – – + He G Ainslaea latifolia (D. Don) Schultz-Bipontinus PA – – + Ch SF Anaphalis neplansis (Spreng.) Hand-Maz. UP – ++ Ch SF Anaphalis royleana D.C. UP + –– Ch SF Androsace lanuginosa Wall. PA – – + Ch CF Androsace sarmentosa Wall. PA – ++ Ch CF Anemone obtusiloba D. Don PA – + –Ch SF Anemone rivularis Buch-Ham. ex D.C. PA ++ + Ch TF Anemone vitifolia Buch-Ham. ex D.C. PA + – + Ch TF Angelica archangelica L. UP – – + Ch SF Arenaria ciliolata Edgew. UP – – + Ch TF Arisaema tortuosum (Wallich) Schott. UP – – + Ge TF Artemisia vestita Wall. ex D.C. UP – – + He TF Artemisia vulgaris var. nilagirica C.B. Clarke UP ++ + He TF Astragalus chlorostachys Lindley PA + – + Ch SF Astragalus himalayanus Klotz. PA + –– Ch SF Barbarea intermedia Boreau PA – – + Ch SF Bergenia ciliata Sternb PA – – + Ch SF Bistorta vivipara (L.) Gray UP – + –He SF Briza media L. PA ++ –He G Bupleurum hamiltonii Balak. PA – – + Th TF Bupleurum himalayense Klotz. PA – – + Th TF Bupleurum longicaule Wall. ex D.C. PA ++ –Th TF Calamintha umbrosa (Bieb) Fisher & Meyer PA ++ + Ch SF Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medik PA – + –Th SF Cardamine impatiens L. PA – – + Th SF Carex maritima Genn. UP – + –He S Carex nivalis Boott. UP – + –He S Carex obscura UP + –– He S Cerastium ceratoides L. PA – – + Ch SF Cerastium dahuricum L. PA ++ –Ch SF Cerastium holosteiodes Fries. PA – – + Ch SF Chaerophyllum reﬂexum Lindley PA ++ + Ch SF Chaerophyllum villosum Wall. ex D.C. PA – – + Ch SF Chareophyllum acuminatum Lindley PA + –– Ch SF Cicerbita macrorhiza (Royle) Beauv. PA – – + Ch SF Circium arvense (L.) Scopoli UP – – + Th TF C. verutum (D. Don) Sprengel UP – + –Th TF Cirsium wallichii D.C. UP – ++ Th TF Corydalis govariana Wall. UP + –– He CF Cremanthodium armicoides (D.C. ex Royle) R.Good PA – – + Ch CF Cyanthus lobatus Wall. ex Benth. PA ++ + Ch CF Cynoglossum wallichii D. Don PA + – – Ch CF Cypripedium himalaicum Rolfe apud Hemsl. PA – – + Ge TF Dactyloriza hatagirea (D. Don) Soo PA + – + Ge CF Delphinium vestitum Wall. PA – – + He CF Dipsacus inermis Wall. PA – – + Ch TF Dubyaea hispida D.C. UP – – + Ch SF Elscholtzia eriostachya (Benth.) Benth. UP ++ –Th TF Epilobium amplectans UP + – + Th TF Epilobium roseum Cl. UP ++ –Th SF Epilobium royleanum Haussk. UP + – + Th SF Equisetum diffusum D. Don UP – – + He TF Erigeron alpinus L. UP – + –Ch TF Erigeron multiradiatus (Lindley ex D.C.) Clarke UP + – + Ch TF Eritricum canum (Benth.) Kitamur UP ++ –Ch SF Filipendula vestita Wall. UP – + –Ch SF Fragaria nubicola Lindley ex Lacaita var. nubicola Hook. f. PA – – + He SF Fragaria vesca L. var. nubicola Hook. f. PA + – + He SF Gagea leutea non. Schultz. PA + – + Ch CF Galium acutum Edgen. UP ++ –Ch CF Galium aparine L. UP – – + Ch CF Gaultheria tricophylla Royle UP ++ –Ch CF Gentiana argentes (D. Don) Cl. UP ++ –Ch CF (Continued) International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 153 Table 7. (Continued). Name of species PA/UP ND AD P Life form Growth form Gentiana capitata Buch.-Ham ex D. Don UP + –– Ch SF Gentiana stipitata Edgew. UP + – – Ch CF Geranium aconifolium L. PA ++ –Ch SF Geranium collinum Steph. ex Willd. PA ++ + Ch SF Geranium wallichianum D. Don ex Sweet PA + – + Ch SF Geum elatum Hook. f. PA ++ + Ch SF Gysophylla ceratoides D. Don UP – + –Ch SF Hackelia uncinata (Royle ex Benth.) Fiescher UP + – + He SF Halenia elliptica D. Don UP ++ –Ch SF Herminium monorchis (L.) R. Br. UP – + –Ge SF Hierochole laxa R.Br. ex Hook. f. UP – – + Ge SF Impatiens brachycentra Kar. & Kir. UP – – + Th TF Impatiens racemosa D.C. UP ++ –Th TF Inula grandiﬂora Willd. UP – + –Ch TF Iris kumaonensis D. Don ex Royle PA ++ + Ge TF Jurinea dolomiaea Boiss. UP – – + He CF Kobresia laxa Nees PA + –– He G Ligularia amplexicaule D.C. PA – – + Ch CF Ligularia arnicoides D.C. ex Royle PA – – + Ch CF Lomatogonium carinthiacum (Wulf) Reichb UP + – – Ch CF Lonicera myrtillus Hook. f. & Thomson UP + – – Ch CF Lonicera pseudosabinanon Hook. f. & Thomson UP – – + Ph CF Lotus corniculata L. PA ++ –Ch SF Luzula multiﬂora (Retz.) Lej. PA – + –He SF Morina longifolia Wall. ex D.C. UP ++ + Ch TF Myriactis wallichii Lessing UP + – + Th TF Nardostachys jatamansi PA – – + He SF Nepeta laevigata (D. Don) Hand-Maz. PA ++ –Ch SF Nepeta podostachys Benth. PA – – + Ch SF Ophiopogon intermedius D. Don PA – + –Ch TF Origanum vulgare L. PA – ++ Ch SF Orobanche epithymum D.C. UP – – + Ge SF Parnassia nubicola Wallich PA – + –Ch SF Pedicularis pectinata Wall. ex Benth. PA ++ + Ch TF Pedicularis puncata Decne PA – – + Ch TF Persicaria polystachya (Wall. ex Meisn.) H. Gross. UP – – + He TF Phleum alpinum L. PA ++ + He G Phlomis bracteosa Royle ex Benth. PA + – + Ch TF Pichorrhiza kurrooa PA – – + Ch SF Plantago major non L. PA ++ + Th SF Plantago tibetica Hook. f. & Thomson PA ++ + Th SF Pleurospermum densiﬂorum (Lindl.) Cl. UP + – – Th TF Poa alpina L. PA ++ –He G Poa nepalensis PA ++ + He G Poa trivalis L. PA – – + He G Polygonum amplexicaule D. Don PA + – + He TF Polygonum islandicum (L.) Hook. f. PA + – + He TF Polygonum polystachyum Wall. ex Meisn. UP ++ + He TF Polygonum vaviparum L. UP ++ + He TF Polystichium bakerianum Atkins ex Bak. UP – + –He TF Polystichium aculeatum (L.) Roth UP – – + He TF Potentilla ambigua Camb. PA – + –He SF Potentilla atrosanguinea Ledd. PA ++ + He SF Potentilla eriocarpa Wall. PA – – + He SF Potentilla nepalensis Hook. f. PA ++ + He SF Primula denticulata Smith PA ++ + He SF Prunella vulgaris L. PA + – – Ch CF Ranunculus arvense L. PA – + –Ch SF Ranunculus diffuses D.C. UP + –– Ch SF Ranunculus hirtellus Royle PA ++ + Ch SF Rhododendron anthopogon D. Don PA – – + NTF Rhododendron campanulatum D. Don UP – – + NTF Rumex acetosa L. UP ++ + Th TF Rumex nepalensis Sprengel UP ++ + Th TF Saussurea hypoleuca Sprengel ex C.B. Clarke UP – – + Th TF (Continued) 154 R. Kaur et al. Table 7. (Continued). Name of species PA/UP ND AD P Life form Growth form Sedum ewersii Ledeb. PA – – + He CF Selinium tenuifolium Wall. PA – – + Ch TF Selinium vaginatum (Edgew) Clarke PA ++ + Ch TF Senecio chrysanthemoides D.C. UP + – + Ch CF Sibbaldia cuneata Hornem. ex Kuntze PA ++ –He SF Silene indica Roxb. ex Otth. PA – + –Th SF Sisymbrium himalaicum (Edgew) Hook. f. & Thomson PA ++ –Th SF Spiraea bella Sims PA – – + NSF Stachys melissaefolia Benth. PA ++ + Ch SF Stellaria longissima Wall. ex Edgew. PA – + –Ch SF Swertia ciliata (D. Don ex G. Don) Burtt. UP – ++ Ch TF Swertia speciosa D. Don UP – + –Ch TF Tanacetum longifolium Wall. ex D.C. UP ++ + He TF Taraxacum ofﬁcinale acut. an Weber PA ++ + Ch TF Thymus serphyllum auct. non L. PA ++ –Ch CF Trachydium garhwalicum Wolff. PA – + –Ch SF Trisetum aeneum (Hook. f) R.R. Steward PA – – + He G Vicatia connifolia D.C. UP ++ –Ch SF Note: P, protected; ND, naturally degraded; AD, anthropogenically degraded; PA, palatable; UP, unpalatable; +, present; –, absent; SF, short forb; TF, tall forb; CF, cushion forb; G, grass; S, sedge; Ch, chamaephyte; He, hemicryptophyte; Th, therophyte; Ph, phanerophyte; Ge, geophyte; N, nanophanerophyte. location, both soil impoverishment due to trampling and natural resources at different areas, for example, protect- soil erosion (Pueyo et al. 2006) The biodiversity of the area ing areas against livestock grazing. Zhu and Zu (1989) is decreasing due to various anthropogenic pressures (Joshi suggested creating hay banks for fulﬁlment of forage et al. 2005). Nautiyal and Kaechele (2006) studied the needs. For sustenance of fragile alpine ecosystems, natu- effects of grazing on Tungnath alpine meadow and revealed ral resource should not be exploited beyond the carrying invasion of alpine vegetation by less palatable species capacity of area. By taking into account the range condi- from lower elevations due to habitat destruction from tion class, its proper forage use factor, distance to water, human interference. In the present area, weed species like slope and carrying capacity, a rehabilitation plan can be R. nepalensis and Impatiens spp. have colonised degraded implemented for the degraded sites in the study area. sites with luxuriant growth, reducing the aesthetic and medicinal value of the area. Because of increasing anthro- Conclusion pogenic disturbance, heavy rainfall and ease of accessibil- ity, both degradation types, that is, moderate to severe, were Degradation is affecting the species composition of natu- found more on slopes of 15–25 . ral alpine communities in the Govind Wildlife Sanctuary Biodiversity indicators can be used as proxies to ﬁnd and National Park, due to grazing and harvesting, which is a substitute when speciﬁc information is not available. reducing the vegetation cover making the bare land sus- Restoration measures can also be implemented using the ceptible to natural hazards. Due to various natural and presence of target or umbrella species (Rosenthal 2003). anthropogenic pressures, the endemic ﬂora of this area The changes in climatic and habitat conditions, beyond is threatened. Many invasive species have invaded the the tolerance limit of a species, affect the less ﬂexi- degraded area at Har-ki-Dun and are ﬂourishing at an ble species in the area, such as Dactyloriza hatagirea, alarming rate, threatening the endemic ﬂora of the region Aconitum atrox, Nardostachya jatamansi and Picorrhiza (Joshi et al. 2005). In the naturally degraded site the kurooa. These species should be prioritised for conser- dominant species was R. acetosa (short forb), and in the vation, as species with Red List status are often used anthropogenically degraded site the dominant species was to establish conservation priorities and elucidate causes C. verutum (tall forb). There were more unpalatable species for a decline in species diversity (Buchs 2003; Duelli in the anthropogenically degraded site due to grazing, and Obrist 2003; European Academies Science Advisory as also reported by Joshi and Srivastava (1988). Invasive Council 2005; Samu et al. 2008). Using these species as species such as Impatiens, Rumex and Acogonum were indicators is effective because they are relatively easy to found throughout the area, with more near river banks and estimate once they have been identiﬁed by remote sens- other anthropogenically disturbed areas. In these areas a ing and by standard and rapid ﬁeld assessments. Moreover, higher percentage of therophytes was observed. these indicators can be generalised to similar habitats. Due to heavy livestock and indiscriminate grazing, the By reducing grazing pressure, plant succession could soil has been degraded to a large extent. Hooves of ani- resume and the meadow will revert to its previous con- mals crush and trample seedlings, resulting in the loss dition. There is ongoing debate on the nature and extent of soil, while the recurring rainfall erodes the soil and of the use of meadows (Kala 2002). Many ecologically leaves large areas of bare land. Heavy livestock grazing sustainable land-use practices are followed to conserve in the study area has also led to weed infestations and a International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 155 decline in meadow forage palatability. The above results industry could be set up to produce a refreshing and medic- also indicate that many unpalatable species have invaded inally important drink from the ﬂowers of this tree. These the anthropogenically and naturally degraded sites. practices should be encouraged in the study area to con- Over-harvesting has limited the capacity of medicinal serve depleted ﬂoristic diversity. The use of remote sensing plants to proliferate. The species that presently occur only combined with ground inventory data provides important in the protected sites may be used as potential species baseline information to facilitate management of degraded for eco-restoration of the degraded areas. 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International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management – Taylor & Francis
Published: Dec 1, 2010
Keywords: diversity; alpine meadow; degradation; grazing; mapping; unpalatable
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