, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 1229-1250
Date: 14 Feb 2012

Fauna data integration and species distribution modelling as two major advantages of geoinformatics-based phytobiodiversity study in today’s fast changing climate

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The development and growth of geospatial techniques offer many advantages and challenges to the study of biodiversity, especially in the present era of climate change. We are now at the beginning of the international decade for biodiversity and by the time we travel through the decade, there would be sea-changes in the measurement and monitoring approaches, database management options, and inter-linked studies on biodiversity. With the onset of geoinformatics techniques comprising remote sensing, global positioning system (GPS), integrative tools, such as GIS, is realized as a complimentary system to ground-based biodiversity studies. Recently, a nationwide biodiversity study at landscape level using geoinformatics modeling techniques for India has been completed. The study has assessed plant diversity using a three-tier approach, wherein six biodiversity attributes (i.e., spatial, phytosociological, social, physical, economical, and ecological) were linked together based on their relative importance to stratify biological richness of forest vegetation (non-agricultural) of India. It has enumerated 7,964 plant species from 20,000 nested quadrate sampling plots of 0.04 ha each, delineated and mapped 120 vegetation classes; and organized the geo-spatial database on bisindia web portal. Here, we have (i) proposed a method to incorporate the fauna component in-line up with the existing methodology and (ii) utilized the GPS-gathered positional information on the distribution of two species (i.e., Medicago sativa and Poa annua to simulate their distribution for the year 2020 (SRES A1-B scenario, IPCC) using Maxent model. The study conducted in a test site of western Himalayas estimated (i) 24% increase in the overall biologically rich areas on supplement of fauna data and (ii) distribution of both the species would tend to increase in favor of shorter cold season. The study highlights the importance of geoinformatics technique-based biodiversity study for its amenability to incorporate any further change or modification, and utility of the geo-spatial biodiversity database for simulating various species distribution scenarios to understand their ecology in today’s fast changing climate for effective conservation prescriptions.