Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 1045–1065 | Cite as

Diversity of understory plants in undisturbed and disturbed tropical lowland forests of Little Andaman Island, India

  • L. Rasingam
  • N. ParthasarathyEmail author
Original Paper


Species richness and density of understory plants were investigated in eight 1 ha plots, distributed one each in undisturbed and disturbed tropical evergreen, semi-evergreen, deciduous and littoral forests of Little Andaman island, India, which falls under one of the eight hottest hotspots of Biodiversity in the world viz. the Indo-Burma. One hundred 1 m−2 quadrats were established in each 1 ha plot, in which all the understory plants (that include herbs, undershrubs, shrubs and herbaceous climbers) were enumerated. The total density of understory plants was 6,812 individuals (851 ha−1) and species richness was 108 species, representing 104 genera and 50 families. Across the four forest types and eight study plots, the species richness ranged from 10 to 39 species ha−1. All the disturbed sites harbored greater number of species than their undisturbed counterparts. Herbs dominated by species (63%) and density (4,259 individuals). The grass Eragrostis tenella (1,860 individuals; IVI 40), the invasive climber Mikania cordata (803; IVI 20) and the shrub Anaxagorea luzonensis (481; IVI 17.5) were the most abundant species. Poaceae, Asteraceae, Acanthaceae, Orchidaceae and Euphorbiaceae constituted the species-rich families represented by 6 species each. The species-area curves attained an asymptote at 0.8 ha level except in sites DD and DL, indicating 1 ha plot is not sufficient to capture all the understory species in disturbed forests. The alien weeds formed about one-fourth of the species richness (31 species; 28%) and density (1,926 individuals; 28.3%) in the study sites, indicating the extent of weed invasion and the attention required for effective conservation of the native biodiversity of the fragile island forest ecosystem.


Andaman Islands Disturbance Invasive species Species density Tropical forest Understory plants 



We thank the Director, Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata and Joint Director, Botanical Survey of India, Andaman and Nicobar Circle, Port Blair for allowing us to consult the herbaria and officials of Andaman and Nicobar Island Forest Plantation and Development Corporation Limited, Port Blair for field support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Environmental SciencesPondicherry UniversityPuducherryIndia

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