Continuous or discrete-an altitudinal transect of vegetation and soil on a de-glaciated Valley, Western Himalaya, Pakistan

Paper Details

Research Paper 01/04/2020
Views (470) Download (19)

Continuous or discrete-an altitudinal transect of vegetation and soil on a de-glaciated Valley, Western Himalaya, Pakistan


The study area is a Himalayan forest-alpine ecotone extending over a 100 km north to south transect. The altitudinal change in vegetation was studied between 2000 m, a.s.l. and 4100 m, a.s.l. to test the vegetation pattern either continuum or zonation. A total of 300 species of vascular plants occurred in 280 repeated samples of 0.1ha at 14 sites. Ordination (DCA) and classificatory techniques were used to examine these data. The major axes brought out by DCA were related to altitude and its associated climatic factors, although it is possible to relate the units of classification to broad soil types. The overlay of the classification groups on the ordination axes indicated that the vegetation closely followed a topographic sequence and the vegetation composition changed continuously with altitude. No clearly disjunct vegetation patterns emerged and the distribution of samples and species along two axes of ordination resemble more closely to the continuous nature of the vegetation than to the grouping produced by classification. The distribution of plant species along the altitudinal transects support the individualistic hypothesis of community organization.


Austin MP. 1985. Continuum concept, ordination methods and niche theory. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematic 16, 35-47.

Beals EW. 1969. Vegetation changes along altitudinal gradients. Science 165, 981-985. 10.1126/

Bunker DE, Carson WP. 2005. Drought stress and tropical forest woody seedlings: effect on community structure and composition. Journal of Ecology.,794-806.

Causton DR. 1988. An introduction to vegetation analysis. Unmin Hyman, London.

Champion HG, Seth SK, Khattak GM. 1965. Forest types of Pakistan. Forest Institute, Peshawar.

Curtis TJ, McIntosh RP. 1951. The interactions of certain analytic and synthetic phyto-sociological characters. Ecology 31, 435-455.

Dager JC. 1987. Species composition and plant biomass of ungrazed grassland at Ujjain, India. Tropical Ecology 28, 200-208.

Dasti AA, Malik SA. 1998. A transect of vegetation and soils on the Indus Valley Scree slopes, Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Plant Science 4, 73-84.

Dolezal J, Srůtek M. 2002. Altitudinal changes in composition and structure of mountain-temperate vegetation: a case study from Western Carpathians. Plant Ecology 158, 201-221.

Duncan DB. 1955. Multiple-range test d-tables. Biometrics 11, 1-42.

Gairola S, Sharma CM, Suyal S, Ghildiyal SK. 2011. Species composition and diversity in mid-altitudinal moist temperate forests of western Himalaya. Journal of Forest Science 27, 1-15.

Gleason HA. 1926. The individualistic concept of the plant association. Bulletin Torrey Botanical Club 53, 7-26.

Greco A, Spencer DA. 1993. A section through the Indian Plate, Kaghan Valley, NW Himalaya, Pakistan. In Treloar PJ., Searle MP (eds.) Himalayan Tectonics Geological Society, London, Special publication 74, 221-236.

Grime JP. 1977. Evidence for existence of three primary strategies in plant and its relevance to ecological and evolutionary theory. American Naturalist 111, 1169-1194.

Grubb PJ, Tanner EVJ. 1976. The montane forests and soil of Jamaica: a reassessment. Journal of Arnold Arboretum 57, 313-368.

Hamilton AC, Ruffo CK, Mawasha IV, Mmari C, Lovett JC. 1989. A survey of forest types on the East Usambaras using variable – area tree plot method. In Hamilton AC., Bensted-Smith R (eds.) Forest Conservation in the East Usambaras Mountaine Tanzania.  IUCN Tropical Forest Programme, 213-225.

Hashim M, Dasti AA. 2019. Himalayan temperate forest composition and canopy attributes. International Journal of Bioscience,317-337.

Hemp A. 2005. Continuum or zonation? Altitudinal gradient in the forest vegetation of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Plant Ecology.–005-9049-4.

Holtmeier FK. 2000. Die Höhengrenze der Gebirgswälder. Arb Inst Landschaftsökol, Univ Münster 8, Münster.

Kessler M. 2001. Patterns of diversity and range size of selected plant groups along an elevational transect in the Bolivian Andes. Biodiversity and Conservation 10, 1897-1921.

Klimeś L. 2003. Life-form and clonality of vascular plants along altitudinal gradient in E Ladakh (NW Himalayas). Basic and Applied Ecology 4, 317-328.

Koeppen W. 1923. Grundriss der Klimakunde, Berlin and Leipzig. Walter de Gruyter Co.

Körner CH. 2007. The use of ‘altitude’ in ecological research. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 22, 569-574.

Kumar M, Sharma CM, Rajwar GS. 2004. Physico-chemical properties of forest soil along altitudinal gradient in Garhwal, Himalaya. Journal of Hill Research 17, 60-64.

Liebererman D, Liberman M, Peralta R, Hartshon GS. 1996. Tropical forest structure and composition on large scale altitudinal gradient in Costa Rica. Journal of Ecology 84, 137-152.

Liu MW, Ren XW. 1992. Inter-specific correlation and classification of plants in Baihua Mountain in Beijing. Journal of Beijing Forestry University 14, 77-84.

Lombardo B, Rolfo F, Compagnoni R. 2000. Glaucophane and barroisite eclogites from the Upper Kaghan nappe: implications for the metamorphic history of the NW Himalaya. In Khan MA., Treloar PJ., Searle MP., Jan MQ (eds.) Tectonics of the Nanga Parbat Syntaxis  and The Western Himalaya. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 170, 411-430.

Luteyn JL. 1999. páramos: A checklist of plant diversity, geographical distribution, and botanical literature. Memoirs of the New York Botanical Garden 84, 1-278.

Mahdavi P, Akhani H, Maarel EV. 2013. Species diversity and life-form patterns in steppe vegetation along 3000 m altitudinal gradient in Alborza Mountains, Iran, Folia Geobotanica 48, 7-22.

Moles AT, Warton DI, Warman L, Swenson NG, Shawn LW, Amy ZE, Andy P, Frank HA, Leishman MR. 2009. Global pattern in plant height. Journal of Ecology 97, 923-932.

Ninot JM. Carrillo E., Castell XF, Carreras J. 2007. Altitude zonation in the Pyrenees. A geobotanical interpretation. Phytocoenologia.

Orshan G. 1986. The desert of the Middle East. In Evenari, M, Noy-Meir I, Goodall DW (eds.) Ecosystems of the World 12B. Hot Deserts and Srublands. Amsterdam, Elsevier.

Peer T, Millinger A, Ggruber JP, Hussain F. 2001. Vegetation and altitudinal zonation in relation to the impact of grazing in steppe lands of Hindukush range, Pakistan, Phyrocoenologia 31, 477-498.

Polunin O, Stainton A. 1984. Flowers of Himalaya. Oxford University Press, New York.

Poulos HM, Goodale UM, Berlyn GP. 2007. Drought responses of two maxican oak species, Quercus lacey and Q. sideroxyla (Fagaceae) in relation to elevational position. American .Journal of Botany 94 809-818.

Sheikh M, Kumar M, Todaria NP. 2010. Soil characteristics and nutrient status of temperate Oak and subtropical pine forests in Central Himalaya. Lituniana Journal of Forest Research 1, 57-65.

Stohlgren TJ, Bachand RR. 1997. Lodge pie (Pinus contorta) ecotones in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA. Ecology 78, 632-641.

Sturm H, Abouchaar AA. 1981 Observations sorb la ecologia del páramo andino de Monserrate, Caldasia 13, 223-256.

Van der Hammen T, Maarleveld G, Vogel J, Zagwijin W. 1967. Stratigraphy, Climatic Succession and Radiocarbon dating of the last glacial in The Netherlands. Geologie en Mijnbouw 46, 79-95.

Vazquez JAG, Givinish TJ. 1998. Altitudinal gradient in tropical forest composition, structure and diversity in Sierra de Manantlan, Jalisco, Maxico. Journal of Ecology 86, 999-1020.

Vuilleumier BS. 1971. Pleistocene changes in the fauna and flora of South America, Science 173, 771-780.

Whitemore TC. 1973.  Frequency and habitat of tree species in the rain forest of Ulu Kelantan. Gardens Bulletin of Singapore 26, 195-210.

Wundram D, Pape R, Loffler J. 2010. Alpine soil temperature variability at multiple scales. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research.

Zhang JT, Ru WM. 2010. Population characteristics of endangered species Taxus chinensis var. mairei and its conservation strategy in Shanxi, China. Population Ecology 52, 407-416.

Zhong JT, Xu B, Li M. 2013. Vegetation patterns and species diversity along environmental disturbance gradients in the Baihua Mountain Reserve, Beijing, China. Mountain Research and Development 33, 170-178.

Zhong S, Guo Y. 1997. Study of inversion of mountain in Xishuangbanna. Journal of Yunnan Tropical Crops Science Technology 20, 4-11 (in Chinese with English abstract).