Composition, structure and diversity of tree species along an altitudinal gradient in Jammu province of north-western Himalayas, Jammu and Kashmir, India

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Research Paper 01/10/2013
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Composition, structure and diversity of tree species along an altitudinal gradient in Jammu province of north-western Himalayas, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Neeraj Sharma, Anil K Raina
J. Bio. Env. Sci.3( 10), 12-23, October 2013.
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Community structure and composition are important factors affecting diversity patterns in plant communities. Pertinently, species diversity along altitudinal and latitudinal gradient differs in different layers at different scales. Thirteen community groups characterized by different dominants in the tree layer were distinguished. These include Himalayan subtropical scrub (580-850 m asl), Northern dry mixed deciduous forest (600-1100 m asl), Himalayan subtropical pine forest (780-1450 m asl), Lyonia / Alnus / Rhododendron forest (1250-1500 m asl), Mixed Oak forest (1300-2150 m asl), Rhododendron – Oak mixed forest (1600-2200 m asl), Pine / Oak mixed forest (1400-1750 m asl), Pure Cedrus deodara forest (1450-1700 m asl), Taxus wallichiana forest (2000-2580 masl), Deodar / blue pine mixed forest (1900-2600 m asl), Fir / Spruce mixed forest (2700-3250 m asl), pure Betula forest (3100-3500 m asl), and alpine scrub (above 3500 m asl). Distribution of importance values of dominants explicitly indicated a vertical pattern of these forest types. The sub-tropical and temperate elements of vegetation reveal predominance of closed canopy forests, wherein the sub-tropical tree species outnumber the temperate tree flora. The community analysis was performed using stratified random sampling involving 0.01 % of the total area for each community. The pattern of plant diversity as observed by the values of species richness and diversity indices show a decreasing trend from lower to higher altitudes. The study suggests that distribution and species richness are largely regulated by physiography (altitude, latitude, slope, aspect etc.) and climatic factors.


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