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Envis Specia Habitat

ISSN 0972-088X

Envis
Wildlife and Protected Areas

Vol. 11 No.1 2008

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This issue Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of India

WILDLIFE INSTITUTE OF INDIA


Post Box # 18, Chandrabani, Dehradun 248001 Tel .: + 91-135-2640111-115, + 91-135-2640304 Fax: + 91-135-2640117 E-mail: [email protected]; [email protected] URL http://www.wii.gov.in/envis; http://www.wiienvis.nic.in

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The Environmental Information System (ENVIS) Center at the Wildlife Institute of India, set up in September 1997, is part of the ENVIS setup of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. It deals with general matters concerning wildlife and specifically those related to protected areas. Its objectives are to: Establish a data bank on information related to wildlife and wildlife protected areas, and thereby build up a repository and dissemination center for information on wildlife science; Promote national and international cooperation, and exchange of wildlife related information; Provide decision makers at the apex level with information related to conservation and development

Wildlife and Protected Areas


Project Leader P.R. Sinha Project Coordinator V.B. Mathur Project Co-coordinator S.A. Hussain Research Associate Jatinder Chadha Advisory Committee P.K. Mathur B.C. Choudhury K. Sivakumar Y.S. Verma R. Thapa K.K. Shrivastva

Envis Bulletin

WILDLIFE INSTITUTE OF INDIA


Post Bag # 18, Chandrabani, Dehradun - 248 001, India Tel .: +91 135 2640111-115, Fax: +91 135 2640117 Email: [email protected]; [email protected] website: http://wii.gov.in/envis; http://wiienvis.nic.in

Envis Bulletin
Wildlife and Protected Areas

Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of India


The contents of the bulletin may be used freely for non-commercial purposes with due acknowledgment

Citation: Rawat, G.S. (Ed.). 2008. Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of India. ENVIS Bulletin: Wildlife and Protected Areas, Vol. 11 (1). Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, India. pp. 239. Citation for individual papers: Kumar P. & G.S. Rawat. 2008. Chotanagpur Plateau: Relict Habitats and Endemic Plants. pp. 167-173. In: Rawat, G.S. (Ed.). 2008. Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of India. ENVIS Bulletin: Wildlife and Protected Areas, Vol. 11 (1). Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, India. ENVIS Bulletin: Wildlife and Protected Areas, Vol. 11 (1). Printed in 2008. Credits: Front Cover: Design: Pankaj Kumar Central Photo: Semi-evergreen forests during monsoon: Manoj V. Nair Inset Photos (Left to Right): Exbucklandia populnea: H. J. Chowdhery, Hoya wightii ssp. palniensis: Robert Stewart, Pleione praecox: S.Z. Lucksom, Strobilanthes zenkerianus: Jomy Augustine, Caralluma edulis: Amit Kotia, Eulophia flava: Pankaj Kumar, Rheum nobile: Sandeep Tambe

Editorial Processing: Jyoti Prasad Nautiyal & Rajeev Thapa Design & Layout: Jyoti Prasad Nautiyal Maps: Umeshkumar L. Tiwari & Amit Kotia Printer: Print Vision, Dehradun Tel.: 0135 | 2741702 | 6532172

ENVIS Bulletin is also available on the internet at WII website: http://www.wii.gov.in/envhome/eindex

Envis Bulletin
Wildlife and Protected Areas

Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of India

Editor G.S. Rawat

Editorial Associate Jatinder Chadha

Photo Editor Pankaj Kumar

Contents
Mail Bag Directors Note P.R. Sinha Foreword M. Sanjappa Monitoring Threatened Plants and their Habitats: Way Forward Editorial x xiii xv xvii

SECTION I

Trans-Himalayas
1.0 2.0 Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of Ladakh G.S. Rawat Nilang: A Little Known Trans-Himalayan Valley in Uttarakhand and its Floral Wealth S. Chandola, H.B. Naithani & G.S. Rawat Cold Deserts of Himachal Pradesh: Unique Habitats and Threatened Plants Vaneet Jishtu & G.S. Goraya 001 009

3.0

017

North-West and Western Himalayas


4.0 5.0 Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of Kashmir Himalaya G.H. Dar Threatened Plants of Jammu Region, North-West Himalaya and Strategies for their Conservation O.P. Sharma Rare and Little Known Plants from Lower Himachal Pradesh Krishan Lal Some Plants of Taxonomic and High Conservation Significance in Uttarakhand Himalaya Manoj Chandran Threatened Plants of Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Himalaya Gajendra Singh & Ishwari Dutt Rai Distribution, Status and Conservation of Picrorhiza Himalayan region Anjali Uniyal & Sanjay Kumar Uniyal 029 037

SECTION II

6.0 7.0

041 045

8.0 9.0

051 055

SECTION III

Central / Eastern Himalaya and North-East India


10.0 11.0 Endemic and Threatened Orchids of Sikkim and Their Conservation S.Z. Lucksom The Alpine Landscape in Western Sikkim: Special Habitats and Threatened Plants Sandeep Tambe & G. S. Rawat Arunachal Pradesh The Cradle of Flowering Plants H.J. Chowdhery Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of Meghalaya Swapna Prabhu 063 069

12.0 13.0

077 083

Upper Gangetic Plains, Arid & Semi-Arid Zone


14.0 15.0 16.0 Threatened Plants and their Habitats in Indian Thar Desert Amit Kotia Status Survey of Threatened Plants in Kachchh Desert, Gujarat Justus Joshua, S.F. Wesley Sunderraj & Pankaj N. Joshi Semiarid Region of India: Vegetation Characteristics and Threatened Plants Amit Kotia, Umeshkumar L. Tiwari & G.S. Rawat Gangetic Khadar: One of the Most Threatened Biomes in India Athar Ali Khan, Afifullah Khan & Sweta Agrawal 093 101 109

Section IV

17.0

117

Section V.

Western Ghats
18.0 Threatened Ceropegias of the Western Ghats and Strategies for Their Conservation SR Yadav & Mayur Y. Kamble Rare Flora of the Upper Palnis Robert Stewart & Tanya Balcar Genus Strobilanthes in High Ranges of Kerala: Diversity, Distribution and Endemism Jomy Augustine Rocky Outcrops as Special Habitats in North Western Ghats, Maharashtra Aparna Watve 123

19.0 20.0

135 139

21.0

147

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Section VI

Deccan Peninsula
22.0 Vegetation Characteristic and Special Habitats in the Transition Zone of Vidarbha Dandakaranya, Deccan Plateau Ravikiran Govekar Vegetation and Floral Characteristics of Kanger Valley National Park, Chhattisgarh Amit Kotia & A. N. Parsad Chotanagpur Plateau: Relict Habitats and Endemic Plants Pankaj Kumar & G.S. Rawat Threatened Plants of Orissa and Priority Species for Conservation A.K. Biswal & Manoj V. Nair Floristic wealth of Javvadhu Hills, Eastern Ghats, With Special Emphasis on Threatened Plants R. Vijaya Sankar, K. Ravikumar & G.S. Goraya Shola Forests and Some Important Species of Southernmost Eastern Ghats L. Arul Pragasan, C. Muthumperumal & N. Parthasarathy 155

23.0

163

24.0 25.0 26.0

167 175 187

27.0

195

Section VII

Coasts and Islands


28.0 29.0 Mangroves of Orissa Coast: Floral Diversity and Conservation Status H. N. Thatoi & A.K. Biswal Tropical Dry Evergreen Forests of India: Plants of High Conservation Significance N. Parthasarathy Endemic Plants of Andaman and Nicobar Islands H.B. Naithani 201 209

30.0

215

Section VIII

Miscellaneous
31.0 32.0 33.0 Sacred Groves: Peoples Contribution to Conservation Seema Dhaila-Adhikari & B. S. Adhikari Endemic Pteridophytes of India: Distribution and Threat Status Jatinder Chadha, Hem Chander & Brijesh Kumar Selected Bibliography on Threatened Plants and Special Habitats of India (Published after 1990) J.S. Kathayat, Jatinder Chadha & J.P. Nautiyal 223 229 233

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List of Plates & Boxes


Plate 20B Plate 21A Plate 21B Plate 22A Plate 22B Plate 23 Plate 24A Plate 24B Plate 24C Plate 25A Plate 25B Plate 26A Plate 26B Plate 27 Plate 28 Plate 29 Plate 30 Plate 31 BOXES Box 1

Strobilanthes of High Ranges, Kerala - II Rock Outcrops as Special Habitats in Western Ghats Threatened Species of Rocky Habitats W. Ghats Little known species from Vidarbha Special Habitats of Eastern Vidarbha Threatened Plants of Kanger Valley NP, Chhatisgarh Chotanagpur Plateau: Vegetation and Habitat Features - I Chotanagpur Plateau: Vegetation and Habitat Features - II Threatened Orchids from Chotanagpur Some Localities of Special Botanical Interest in Orissa Threatened Plants of Orissa Vegetation of Javvadhu Hills Threatened Plants of Javvadhu Hills Shola Formations of Southernmost Eastern Ghats Mangrove Vegetation of Orissa: Special Communities and Threatened Species Tropical Dry Evergreen Forests: Plants of High Conservation Significance Endemic Plants of Andaman & Nicobar Islands Sacred Grooves of Western Himalaya

144 151 152 159 160 165 170 171 172 180 181 190 191 198 205 211 222 225

Glechoma nivalis (Benth.) Press: An Interesting Plant of Alpine Scree Slopes from Spiti B. S. Rana An Interesting Species of Pteris from Mizoram Lallawmkimi & H. Lalramnghinglova

028

Box 2

091

Photo Credits: All photos by respective author (s) unless specified.

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Mail bag
ENVIS Bulletin Vol. 10 No. 1, 2007: Galliformes of India
It was most kind and thoughtful of you to send me the formidable and beautifully brought out copy of the ENVIS publication and CD on the 'Galliformes of India'. I have been much enjoying the past month rummaging through the stupendous mine of information, with lovely illustrations of a species in those early years over two decades ago when we feared their rapid extinction. It is so reassuring to see so much research since done to show that these so-called 'game birds' are secure and largely in good health. I am really happy to have a copy of this splendid labor of love, put together with such meticulous care skill and professionalism, and feel short of words in praise of a monumental work by so many dedicated contributors. Dr. Sathyakumar's editing, as always, in the Nanda Devi tradition if I may say so, along with Dr. K. Sivakumar, has been superb. I am particularly delighted that you focused among avian species on the Galliformes, which includes on the cover our National bird, the dancing Peacock! My warmest congratulations to your WII team - I feel so privileged and proud to have been closely associated with the creation almost three decades ago of a great institution doing such splendid work in building knowledge and thus helping to save our natural world. N.D. Jayal, Former Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India, Vasanth Vihar, Dehradun, India It looks like an excellent publication and my compliments to WII in this regard. My only comment is that the publication would have had an added more value if the sub-species and their distribution had also been mentioned in brief. This would particularly apply to a species like the Kalij Pheasant. Dr. M.K. Ranjitsinh Wildlife Trust of India, New Delhi, India This document provides a brilliant reference for those seeking to conserve the Galliformes of India as it summarizes the work carried out so far and gives guidance and ideas of what should be done to conserve this important group of birds in India in the future. I congratulate you for this great achievement and look forward to receive copies of further series that hopefully will be published in the future. Dr Francis Buner, Gray Partridge Ecologist Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust Fordingbridge, Hants, SP6 1EF, United Kingdom It is a wonderful work that will be useful to many conservationists not only in India but also over the world. I'm preparing a book about Partridge, Quails and Francolins and I found already new information in this CD. Our century will be probably the conservation century for the threatened species and I'm pleased to see that now the conservationists originate from the countries where these species live. Congratulations to you and to all participants in this work. I wish you a Happy New Year with many successes in the conservation of the Indian Galliformes. Alain Hennache, Chair EAZA Galliformes TAG EEP Coordinator for the Edwards' Pheasant, European Studbookeeper for the Crestless Fireback Musum National Histoire Naturelle, Parc de Clres, 76690 Clres, France Many thanks for the wonderful overview on Galliformes of India. I was very impressed. My best wishes for your future work. Dr. Siegfried Klaus Lindenhhe 5, D-07749 Jena, Germany

I have gone through the CD on the 'Galliformes of India' that has depicted your excellent country's beautiful birds. It has been nicely prepared and the information in the bulletin is very helpful for our study. But I wonder why the information on the incubation period of Chukar (Alectoris chukar) has been mentioned as 'unknown' in the bulletin. I wish to inform you that we have been studying Chukar and Rock partridge since 1995 and have found that the incubation period for Chukar is 23-24 days. The results of our study are available in the internet now and the same may be included in the bulletin. Dr. Alper Yilmaz, University of Selcuk, Turkey. This is a path breaking effort and I am sure there will be many more additions to the series in time to come. Congratulations! This one that I have received will find a pride of place in my small library once I am through. D. Datta Roy, Former Chief Wildlife Warden, Tripura, Bagdogra, West Bengal, India I can not resist complimenting you and your dedicated team to have produced such a valuable book on 'Galliformes of India'. Your project leader Sh. P.R. Sinha deserves "kudos" for encouraging and inspiring the scientists to bring out such scientific literature. The get up and design of the bulletin is attractive in addition to almost errorless printing. I appreciate the really exhaustive bibliography, so strenuously prepared. The color pictures of birds and their distribution maps are nicely depicted. V.S. Saxena, IFS (R) Member Appellate Authority Pollution Control, Government of Rajasthan, India It is an excellent document. I want to congratulate all your staff for bringing out this valuable document. It is a rich source of reference for researchers like me. I think it should be widely distributed to Institutes and Universities. Dr. Asad Rahmani Director, Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai, India We found 'Galliformes of India' to be extremely useful. We would like to congratulate you and your team for bringing out this bulletin. Manoj Kumar Misra, Executive Director, PEACE Institute Charitable Trust, Delhi, India My congratulations to you and your team in WII-ENVIS, Dr. S. Sathyakumar and Dr. K. Sivakumar on producing a great volume on 'Galliformes of India'. It speaks greatly about the planning and hard work that has been put in. The design, color plates and layout of the printed volume as well as the CD is superb. Dr. Rajiv S. Kalsi, Head, Department of Zoology M.L.N. College, Yamuna Nagar, Haryana, India It is a nice review of the status and distribution of the group in the country. Congratulations to you, Dr. S. Sathyakumar and Dr. K.Sivakumar and the reviewers for putting this together. Dr. Salim Javed, Deputy Manager, Bird Conservation Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates The publication is extremely informative and beautifully done. Ajai Saxena, Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Van Sadan Haddo, Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, India

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I am very pleased to receive the well-produced and useful ENVIS Bulletin entitled "Galliformes of India" brought out by the Wildlife Institute of India. Dr. Raghavendra Gadagkar, Professor and JC Bose National Fellow Center for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, 560012, India. Many thanks for sending me the ENVIS Bulletin on 'Galliformes of India'. It appears very nicely done and I will read it with interest. Dr. Ullas Karanth, Director, Center for Wildlife Studies, Bangalore, India Please accept my heartiest congratulations for an excellent publication brought out by the Wildlife Institute of India. I look forward to going through this wonderful compilation. Vasant Saberwal, Program Officer, Environment and Development, Ford Foundation, New Delhi, India Congratulations for the Herculian Task achieved by bringing out the book: 'Galliformes of India' Harsh Vardhan, TWSI, C 158-A, Dayanad Marg, Tilak Nagar, Jaipur, India We are sure that the information provided in 'Galliformes of India' will be useful to our readers. Atish Chatterjee, Chief, Acquisitions Division United States Library of Congress, Field Office, American Center, New Delhi, India 'Galliformes of India' is a valuable document in our library collection. Yashwant G Kanade, Center for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India 'Galliformes of India' is very useful to us in our environment and awareness activities in Mumbai and Maharashtra. Dr. Goldin Quadros Education Officer & Interim State Director, WWF-India, MSO. This is another remarkable and extraordinary contribution from the scientists of the Wildlife Institute of India towards the scientific research. This book will not only be helpful to the researchers and academicians but is equally beneficial and important for the layman. Kuldip Shiva, Honorary Director, NAVDANYA, Rajpur Road, Dehradun, India Thank you for making the Galliformes Bulletin release function such an intellectually stimulating one. Vijai Sharma Secretary (E & F), MoEF, New Delhi

Thank you all for your valuable comments and suggestions which will help us to improve the quality of our ENVIS publications. We will incorporate these as appropriate in the online edition of this issue. - Dr. V.B. Mathur, Project Coordinator

xii

DIRECTORS NOTE

ildlife Institute of India is one of the ENVIS Centers of Ministry of

Environment & Forests, Government of India for publication and dissemination of

researched information in the subject area of ​​wildlife and protected areas. So far, it has brought out 10 thematic ENVIS bulletins. These bulletins are available as hardcopies and CDs, and are also hosted on Institute's website http: wii.gov.in/envis/publications.html. Considering the importance of the floral wealth of the country, this publication on "Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of India" covering various Biogeographic zones of the country has been compiled. It is an attempt to make its readers aware about the varied and unique floral wealth of our country and draw their attention towards the threat to their long term persistence as part of our natural ecosystem. It is hoped that nature lovers and protected area managers would find the information contained in this publication very useful. It would also help policy makers and professional managers in developing appropriate strategies for conservation and monitoring of the plants species and their habitats.

P.R. Sinha Director

xiii

xiv

Dr. M. Sanjappa
Director

FOREWORD
India with vast geographical expansion and amazing diversity in climate, soil and topography support almost all types of ecosystems found anywhere in the world. The varied ecosystems span from the alpine grasslands of Himalayas to coastal mangroves of Sundarbans; hot deserts of Rajasthan to tropical evergreen and semi evergreen forests of North-East and Western Ghats; the flood plains of Gangetic belt to coral reefs of Andaman sea; the cold deserts of Ladakh and Lahaul -Spiti to tropical Island ecosystems Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and so on. In each of these ecozones there are hundreds of biotopes - each supporting its distinctive floristic components.The confluence of three major biogeographical realms (Eurasian, Afrotropical and Indo-Malayan) has further enhanced the intermingling of floristic elements of these regions in Indian flora. Though the country constitutes merely 2% of the worlds geographical area, it harbors ca 45000 species, nearly 11% of the known world flora, and thus ranking third in Asia and eleventh among the top mega-diversity countries of the world. Studies undertaken so far on floras in several parts of the world have shown that many plant species are in danger of extinction while some have turned extinct. On a global basis, the IUCN have estimated that about 10% of worlds vascular plant species are under varying degrees of threat and started publication of Red Data Books on animals and plants to include data on threatened species and facilitate their conservation. In India, the problem on threatened plants was first discussed in the 11th Technical Meeting of the IUCN in 1969 in which important papers were presented on the subject. Subsequently, the Botanical Survey of India published a small book-let: Threatened plants of India- A State-of-the Art Report, in 1980. Concerted efforts were made on the subject and valuable base-line data on nearly 1000 threatened species gathered , all this data had given impetus for writing up of Red Data Books by the Botanical Survey. Endemicity and

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usefulness leading to overexploitation are essentially two reasons for a species to come under threat. Apart from it, rapid changes in land use have resulted in degradation of specialized natural habitats and along with it rapid depletion of plants confined to these habitats. Specialized habitats and threatened plants undeniably deserve exceptional concern for endured conservation and sustained monitoring in different phytogeographic regions in the country. Shared collaboration, coordination and harmonization among institutions and also among naturalists, plant taxonomists, forest and protected area managers and volunteers possibly give the essential boost to realize this objective. I am happy to know that the Wildlife Institute of India has taken an initiative to bring out a special issue focusing on the theme Specialized Habitats and Threatened Plants. The articles in this issue are contributed by professional taxonomists as well as amateur naturalists in the country and covered Western Himalayas, North East India and also Western and Eastern Ghats. Thar Desert, Ran of Kachchh, and some semi arid regions of Deccan are also covered. Many threatened species and their habitats are discussed. Undeniably, this is a beginning for a focused documentation on specialized habitats and threatened species but certainly not an exhaustive account in view of the vastness and diversity of the country. This will act as a stimulant to similar such publications.

I am sure, this publication would prompt personnel manning forest and protected areas to take up follow up measures recommended for different biogeographic zones and also specific to species to strengthen plant conservation efforts in the country.

M. Sanjappa

xvi

Monitoring Threatened Plants and Their Habitats: Way Forward


- Editorial

onscious of current conservation crisis, a number of leading institutions and

individuals are currently engaged in the systematic study of flora and fauna including threatened

species. The responsibility of implementing in situ conservation of biodiversity is primarily vested with the State Forest Departments (SFDs) which have the backing of several policy documents including recently notified Biodiversity Act (2002) and technical support of research institutions. Though a considerable effort has been made to strengthen the protected area network (PAN) in the country (4.8% of the geographical area), all habitats, threatened plants and ecologically sensitive areas cannot be contained within the PAN. The PA boundaries in the past were decided based on administrative convenience rather than ecological considerations. As a result, several macro and microhabitats which harbor unique assemblages of plants remain outside the current PAN and continue to face anthropogenic pressures. Generally, well managed parks ensure conservation of major ecosystems and representative biota. However, conservation of rare and threatened plants requires concerted efforts and baseline information. As part of conservation planning and habitat management activities the PA managers are required to know about the plants of high conservation value but this is not taken into consideration in all the parks due to lack of floral inventory and paucity of information on rare endemic species. Conservation of gene pool and native crop varieties are often recommended in the Biosphere Reserves but precious little has been achieved in this direction so far. Very few PAs have been set aside exclusively for the conservation of floral diversity. Even prioritized areas lack trained manpower and adequate ecological information on rare and vulnerable species. More often than not, interested staff do not get involved in the search and protection of such plants due to lack of incentives, initiatives and relevant literature. Therefore, despite having enormous conservation potential, most of the PAs and other forests are unable to play an active role in the restoration and conservation of threatened, rare and endemic plants, which could be of local, regional or global interest. In order to promote practical plant conservation and monitoring in various Biogeographic zones of India, it is high time that we initiate an all India coordinated program on monitoring and restoration of highly threatened plants. The program would need the involvement of leading institutions and taxonomists, SFDs, Universities and Volunteers. This would help in the following ways: (i) xvii

Establishment of linkages between the Field Botanists and frontline staff of SFDs; (ii) Restoration, habitat improvement, protection and monitoring of threatened taxa on priority basis; and (iii) Strengthening biodiversity conservation in various Biogeographic zones of the country. At the outset, such an initiative would require identification of rare and threatened species and habitats and major threats to such species, priority listing for in-situ conservation, and restoration. Following this, the participants or the collaborating agencies will need to carry out status surveys of selected taxa within and outside the PAs, identification of the restoration sites in consultation with the SFDs and identified botanists. The third and most important step would be to evolve appropriate monitoring protocols for various species through a series of training workshops in the field involving SFDs (Range Officers or equivalent staff) in which identity of species, survey methods, restoration of microsites, and baseline data Collection for future monitoring can be ascertained. Preparation of distribution maps and information on the micro-habitats for various areas and further analysis in GIS domain may be achieved within a stipulated time. In this issue of ENVIS Bulletin, we have made an attempt to collate information on special habitats and threatened plants needing further monitoring and restoration in different Biogeographic zones of India. Altogether, there are thirty three articles covering various biogeographic regions of the country. In addition, there are two short notes (box items) and a compendium of selected references on threatened and endangered plants of India. The contributors range from amateur naturalists to senior foresters and professional botanists. It is hoped that this volume would enthuse naturalists and amateur botanists to take up further monitoring and documentation of threatened plants in their respective regions and this will serve as a much needed baseline information for the field staff of SFDs. G. S. Rawat Editor

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G. S. Bhardwaj

1.0 Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of Ladakh


G.S. Rawat
Wildlife Institute of India, Chandrabani, Dehradun [email protected]

Introduction
Located in the rain shadow of the Great Himalayan massif, Ladakh forms a major portion of the Indian Trans-Himalaya. Also known as Little Tibet, this region is spread over some 96,700 km2 area in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The region exhibits typical biophysical features of cold deserts having low precipitation and mean annual temperature, short growing season, low primary productivity and sparse vegetation cover. Biogeographically, it is divisible into two provinces viz., Ladakh Mountains and Eastern Plateau (Rodgers & Panwar 1988). The former includes rugged mountain ranges and valleys while the latter is gently undulating elevated landscape that forms the western extension of Tibetan Plateau (Plate 1). Floristically, Ladakh is not as rich as comparable altitudes of Greater Himalaya, but it supports a unique assemblage of flora having close affinity with Central Asia and Tibetan plateau. The region has an enormous variation in altitude (2600 to> 6500 m asl). Snowline in the Trans-Himalaya is located at much higher altitude (5800 6000 m) as compared to Greater Himalaya where it is usually around 5500 m. This provides adequate area for the plants of high alpine and sub-nival zone. The interface between the moist alpine zone of Greater Himalaya and the cold arid region is generally sharp. Mean annual precipitation varies from 50 to 150mm and it increases at higher altitudes, while deep river valleys such as lower Nubra and Zanskar are particularly dry. The arid landscape is interspersed with glacial streams, rivers and lake basins which form crucial Life -Support System for all living forms and provide ecosystem services. Geologically, Ladakh is quite diverse and divisible into several zones, each comprising a series of formations and sedimentary sequences ranging in age from recent to Cretaceous period which have undergone complex tectonic evolution (Frank et al. 1977, Thakur & Rawat 1992). In the extreme west there are basaltic formations (Dras volcanics), while in the north-eastern parts one comes across the remnant Tethyan sea beds. Based on extensive floristic surveys, Kachroo et al. (1977) have reported 611 species of flowering plants from Ladakh. However, recent estimates suggest that the number may be much higher. Dickore & Miehe (2002) estimate that for most of the ladakh the richness of vascular plants may be about 500-1000 species per 10,000 km2, while in Karakoram and north-eastern Ladakh the plant species richness is much lower ie, <300 species per 10,000 km2. In recent surveys of south-eastern Ladakh, Klimes (2003) recorded 404 species of vascular plants in about 10.207 km2 area. The life-forms of the plants exhibit high adaptability to extreme climatic conditions and biotic pressures (Klimes 2003, Rawat & Adhikari 2005). The dominant families of angiosperms are Asteraceae, Poaceae, Rosaceae and Brassicaceae having about 135, 130, 60 and 57 species respectively. The prominent genera are Saussurea, Astragalus, Oxytropis, Potentilla, Carex and Polygonum, each having more than 20 species. The area is diverse in wild legumes (11 genera and 45 species) which enrich the alpine steppe habitat. Despite numerous floristic surveys by various organizations, a comprehensive flora giving updated nomenclature, site specific distribution of species, patterns of rarity and endemism is still lacking for the region.

Special Habitats
Extreme fluctuation of daily temperature, strong winds, sandy soil, solifluction at the higher altitudes and high salinity in the pan shaped lake basins have given rise to a number of unique landforms, micro-habitats and plant communities. In the absence of detailed geo-botanical surveys, it is difficult to paint a complete picture of plant communities and their

Envis Bulletin

Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of India

distribution across all the habitats. Here, only a few examples of special landforms and corresponding vegetation types have been described. These Special Habitats reflect peculiar ecological settings and harbor unique plant assemblages including some of the rare and threatened species (Plate 1). i. Moist meadows Zanskar Ranges The areas immediately north of Greater Himalaya, especially in the moist pockets of Zanskar range and northern slopes of Nun Kun, Kolahoi and Zoji La are characterized by the presence of moist meadows rich in herbaceous flora. The basins of larger mountains e.g., Surru, Kargil and Dras, especially towards higher slopes receive higher snow during winter which support extensive grassy slopes dominated by Festuca kashmeriana, Oryzopsis munroi and Melica persica. Moist slopes harbor a rich array of medicinal and aromatic plants including Ephedra gerardiana, Podophyllum hexandrum, Inula rhizocephala, Iris ensata, Swertia speciosa, Arnebia euchroma, Bistota affinis, Cicer microphyllum, Geranium grevilleanum, Allium carolinianum and Rheum australe to name a few. Pulsatilla wallichiana, one of the little known anemones, can be seen occasionally on these slopes. Colchicum luteum, a valuable medicinal herb is found in moist meadows around Dras. ii. Marsh meadows of Changthang Several lake basins and seasonally inundated banks of Indus in Changthang have given rise to lush green marsh meadows which are patchy but rich in plant life. Pools of shallow water support a number of aquatic species such as Potamogeton pectinatus, Myriophyllum verticillatum, Hippuris vulgaris, Ranunculus natans and R. trichophyllus. The marsh meadows are dominated by sedges (species of Carex, Blysmus, Kobresia and Eleocharis) and a few grasses e.g., Calamogrostis holciformis, Poa spp., Puccinellia spp. Typical herbaceous elements in marsh meadows include species of Ranunculus, Pedicularis, Gentiana, Gentianella and Primula. Some of the species, typical of saline marshes (halophytes) are Atriplex tatarica, Pucinellia himalaica, Suaeda olufsenii, Triglochin maritimum and Glaux maritima. Rawat & Adhikari (2005) have identified several communities along moisture gradients in Tso Kar basin, Changthang. iii. Craggy Rock Surfaces in Zanskar A few pockets in the Zanskar range exhibit special lithological features making them unique. For example, higher slopes of Naki La, adjacent to Lachung La that rise abruptly above Yunam River consist of monotonous, phyllitic, olive colored shales with fine graded sandstones intermingled with exotic limestone. Geologically such areas correspond with Namik La Flysch. Floristically such areas are quite diverse and interesting. Among the rocky crags of Naki La (eastern Zanskar) the plant communities comprise dwarf Isopyrum anemonoides, Silene viscosa, Minuarta biflora, Valeriana himalayana, Rhodiola fastigiata, Saxifraga spp., Biebersteinia odora and Festuca kashmiriana to name a few. iv. Scree bases Scree bases (colluvial deposits) and tallus along valley bottoms in Zanskar and other parts of Western Ladakh represent yet another special habitat. Such areas, usually parallel to stream or river courses, harbor several characteristic species e.g., Lamium rhomboideum, Corydalis crassifolia, C. moorcroftiana, Astragalus nivalis, Oxytropis tatarica, Rheum tibeticum, Elymus nutans, Aquilegia fragrans, Thermopsis inflata and Silene hispida. It appears that most of these species are dispersed mechanically along with loose cobbles and are well adapted to grow in such habitats. Some of the species viz., C. crassifolia, T. inflata and A. nivalis have typically swollen or inflated fruits to aid wind dispersal along valley bottoms.

Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of Ladakh

v. Riverine Scrub Two species of Hippophae, viz., H. rhamnoides ssp. turkistanica and H. tibetana form major constituents of riverine scrub in Ladakh. While the former is much taller (> 1 m) and forms dense thickets along the banks of Indus, Shyok and Nubra rivers, the latter, a dwarf (<50 cm) shrub, forms extensive patches in flat terminal moraines and alluvial areas in Zanskar and Surru valleys. Common associates of H. rhamnoides are Myricaria germanica and Phragmites australis. Along the hill streams M. elegans forms gregarious and pure stands of riverine scrub. In Nubra valley, in addition to these species Tamarix gallica and Rosa webbiana are common elements of riverine scrub. Salix flabellaris and S. pycnostachya are the common willows which can be seen along riverine areas in the Zanskar and much of the lower Ladakh (<4000 m). The riverine scrub in Nubra and other parts of Ladakh serve as most important habitats for critically endangered species of mammals such as lynx (Felis lynx) and Nubra pika (Ochotona nubrica) which are confined to only a few localities in Ladakh and Nubra respectively (Chundawat & Rawat 1994). vi. Scrub Steppe Well drained, relatively moist slopes in Changthang support typical scrub steppe dominated by Cargagana versicolor, a key-stone species in the region. The mosaics of Caragana sp. scrub on gelifluction lobes give a peculiar appearance to the landscape which can be seen on the eastern slopes of Taklang La and other parts of Rupshu. Depending upon the micro-topography and soil depth several scrub communities have been identified in Changthang area e.g., Caragana Artemisia, Artemisia Eurotia and Artemisia Tanacetum (Rawat & Adhikari 2005). Towards inner dry ranges especially wind blown slopes of Khardung La and Chang La, patches of Acantholomon lycopodioides form pure stands, while dry alluvial fans, flat terraces and valley bottoms (approx. 4000 m) in Nubra valley are frequented by Ephedra gerardiana. The latter is also found in association with other shrubs in Nubra valley e.g., Lycium ruthinicum and Tamarix gallica. vii. Fell-fields and sub-nival zones The sub-nival zone that lies usually above 5000 m asl, is characterized by very short (1-2 months) growing season and extremely harsh climatic conditions. Such areas are usually unstable due to snow and avalanche action and hence support very low vegetation cover. The stable and sheltered areas with higher moisture support mosses and lichens. Some of the typical angiosperms in these areas are Carex nivalis, Saussurea gnaphaloides, S. medusa, S. glacialis, S. werneroides, S. nana, Draba altaica, Saxifraga hirculoides, Androsace tapete, Rhodiola tibetica and Leontopodium alpinum. At such heights, especially on gentle slopes one can often see the fell-field and cushion forming communities of Thylacospermum Arenaria and Androsace species. viii. Remnant woodlands Palaeobotanical evidences suggest that several parts of Zanskar and Lower Ladakh had much more extensive patches of natural woodlands in the past which have declined rapidly due to combined action of anthropogenic pressures and increasing aridity. Some of the remnant patches of natural woodland, especially of birch (Betula utilis), juniper (Juniperus semiglobosa), elm (Ulmus wallichiana) and some poplars (Populus euphratica, P. ciliata, P. alba) can be seen in Western Ladakh and Nubra Valley. No efforts have been made to delineate or notify such patches for further conservation. In some of the valleys natural woodlands have been replaced by plantations of willow and exotic poplars (Salix spp, Populus nigra, P. balsamifera).Junipers as well as birch are mainly harvested for religious ceremonies and fuel. As a result, they have disappeared from much of their range in Nubra, Khaltse and Chilling-Zanskar road area.

Envis Bulletin Threatened Plants

Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of India

Ladakh lies at the cross roads of floral migration between Central Asia and Greater Himalaya. Therefore, the level of endemism in the flora of Ladakh is relatively low (<6%). Several species which exhibit range extension into Ladakh from adjoining floristic regions such as Tibetan plateau, Greater Himalaya or Mediterranean region may have small and fragmented populations within this area. Other species are sparsely distributed owing to limited habitats available to them. The high value medicinal and aromatic plants having narrow distribution range and low populations are particularly threatened in the region. Some of the threatened plants of Ladakh, their brief description, distribution and causes of threat are given below: 1. Colchicum luteum Baker (Liliaceae) English Name: Golden Collyrium An annual herb. Stem-base below the ground, thickened into a solid, thick, fleshy, gibbously-ovoid corm with darkbrown scales and a longitudinal groove on one side, having 2 daughter-corms, one at the base and other at the top, 1530 x 8 -15 mm. Leaves few, all radical, 3-5, dark green, linear-oblong or oblanceolate obtuse, appearing with or after flowering. Flowers golden yellow, 1-2, on a very short stalk or scape among leaf-sheaths. Fruits 2.5-3.8cm long capsules with long recurved beake, having numerous seeds. Seeds are brownish-white, globose or irregularly globular, 2-3mm in diameter. Found on moist slopes sparsely distributed in parts of Dras. Also found at higher alpine meadows of Kashmir Valley. Corms are used widely as medicine in the treatment of gout (seed and corm) and also as alterative, aphrodisiac, carminative and laxative. Seeds contain colchicine, a valuable alkaloid used widely in cytological studies and it is known to induce polyploidy. Major threats include over exploitation and habitat degradation. 2. Inula rhizocephala Schrenk. (Asteraceae) Local Name: Turzit Dwarf, stemless herbs. Leaves in rosettes, ad-pressed to the ground, 3-5 cm long, bristly hairy. Heads yellow, 1.6-2.5 cm across, collected at the center of the rosette. Involucral bracts narrow, outer green, inner purplish. Whole plant (including roots) is used in the treatment of chest pains and common cold. This plant is used locally in the treatment of constipation, intestinal infections and ulcers. Occasional in moist meadows between 3500-4000 m asl in Western Ladakh especially Nun-kun basin, Kargil and Surru valleys. Over exploitation and habitat degradation are the major causes of population decline. 3. Saussurea medusa Maxim (Asteraceae) English Name: Snow Lotus Woolly herbs. Stem short, elongates up to 10 cm with age. Basal leaves rosette shaped, obovate or rhomboid, apex of upper leaves dentate. Flower heads embedded in woolly hairs, rarely exposed outside the hairs. Composite heads 58 cm in diameter. Restricted to morainic and stable scree slopes in Karakoram range especially Marsmik La (5400 m). So far known from Karakoram range (India), Tibet and Nepal. Past and present populations have not been assessed. The species is naturally sparse in the region. No immediate threat is perceived except over collection for botanical curiosity.

Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of Ladakh

Plate 1 Landforms and Little Known Taxa from Ladakh


BG Provinces of J&K:
Trans-Himalaya (Ladakh mountains) Trans-Himalaya (Tibetan plateau) North-West Himalaya

PAs in Ladakh
1. Hemis NP 2. Changthang WS 3. Karakoram WS

Ladakh & Zanskar Ranges

Changthang plateau

Marsh meadow, Ladakh

Rajender Sharma

A. Caloplaca flavorubescens: An orange lichen with Buddhist inscriptions 1. Colchicum luteum 2. Inula rhizocephala 3. Saussurea medusa 4. Allium przewalskianum 5. Arnebia euchroma

Envis Bulletin

Special Habitats and Threatened Plants of India