Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 73–83 | Cite as

Species diversity and population status of threatened plants in different landscape elements of the Rohtang Pass, western Himalaya

  • K. N. Singh
  • Gopichand
  • Amit Kumar
  • Brij LalEmail author
  • N. P. Todaria


This paper highlights the quantitative estimates of plant species diversity and ecosystems of the Rohtang Pass, which is one of the most preferred visiting spots by tourists in Himachal Pradesh (H.P.), India. In spite of high pressure of anthropogenic activities, the Rohtang Pass still harbours a variety of flowering plants with economic value, including various medicinal herbs. In order to observe species diversity in different landscape elements (LSEs), ground surveys were conducted in nine unique LSEs within the elevation range between 3624 m and 4332 m. Plant community structure in each LSE was studied using stratified random sampling where a total 56 quadrats of 1 m2 in size for herbs and 7 quadrats of 25 m2 for shrubs were made. Of the total 50 plant species belonging to 15 families recorded in different random quadrats, 24 species were found of medicinal value. Maximum species richness (18) and value of Shannon diversity (H′=2.2648) were observed on northeast-facing slope in Picrorhiza kurrooa dominated LSE in moist area, followed by Rheum emodi LSE (species richness = 17 and H′ = 2.4141) distributed on south-facing slope. Maximum values of species richness and Shannon diversity in Rheum emodi LSE were observed between 8 ∼ 12 and 1.4797 ∼ 2.1911, respectively. Rhododendron anthopogon dominated LSE on northwest-facing slope was found least diverse in terms of species richness where the Simpson index of dominance (D) was 0.4205. The species were equal in abundance in P. kurrooa LSE on east-facing slope and Pleurospermum candollii LSE on north-facing slope, showing the maximum similarity in terms of species distribution between the two LSEs. Low turnover of species across common LSEs gives an idea regarding their limited distribution. Five species of threatened category according to the IUCN criteria were observed in seven LSEs. The largest population of threatened medicinal plants was recorded on northeast and northwest-facing slopes where population density of Bergenia stracheyi (29.25 individuals/m2), Picrorhiza kurrooa (19.83 individuals/m2) and Rhododendron anthopogon (26.23 individuals/25m2) was highest. Aconitum heterophyllum was recorded for the lowest density (1 individual/m2). It was observed that the distribution of medicinal plants was very habitat-specific. Lower soil pH in most of the LSEs reflected its acidic nature. A significant positive correlation of Shannon diversity was found with soil organic matter, carbon content available and total nitrogen. Considering the continuous pressure of anthropogenic activities, this paper suggests effective ecotourism planning and plant conservation mechanisms to protect valuable plant bioresource at the Rohtang Pass.


Species diversity threatened plant landscape Rohtang Pass western Himalaya 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anonymous 2003. Threat Assessment and Management Prioritization of Selected Medicinal Plants of West Himalayan States. Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), Bangalore.Google Scholar
  2. Aswal B.S. and Mehrotra B.N. 1994. Flora of Lahul-Spiti. (A Cold Desert in North-West Himalayas). Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, DehraDun.Google Scholar
  3. Blangy S. and Mehta H. 2006. Ecotourism and ecological restoration. Journal of Nature Conservation 14: 233–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cole V. and Sinclair A.J. 2002. Measuring the ecological footprint of a Himalayan tourist centre. Mountain Research and Development 22(2): 132–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cole V. 1999. The growing ecological footprint of a Himalayan tourist centre. Technical Report, No. 12, Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba.Google Scholar
  6. Dhar U. 2002. Conservation implications of plant endemism in high-altitude Himalaya. Current Science 82(2): 141–148.Google Scholar
  7. Dhar U., Rawal R.S. and Upreti J. 2000. Setting priorities for conservation of medicinal plants — a case study in the Indian Himalaya. Biological Conservation 95: 57–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dhar U., Manjkhola S., Joshi M., Bhatt A., Bisht A.K. and Joshi M. 2002. Current status and future strategy for development of medicinal plants sector in Uttaranchal, India. Current Science 83(8): 956–964.Google Scholar
  9. Dhyani P.P. and Kala C.P. 2005. Current research on medicinal plants: five lesser unknown but valuable aspects. Current Science 88(3): 335.Google Scholar
  10. Forman-Richard T.T. and Godron M. 1986. Landscape Ecology. John Wiley and Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Gupta P.K. 2002. Soil, Plant, Water and Fertilizer Analysis. Agrobios, India.
  12. Jain S.K. 1991. Dictionary of Indian Folk Medicine and Ethnobotany. Deep Publications, New Delhi.Google Scholar
  13. Kala C.P. 2000. Status and conservation of rare and endangered medicinal plants in the Indian trans-Himalaya. Biological Conservation 93: 371–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kala C.P. 2005. Indigenous uses, population density, and conservation of threatened medicinal plants in protected areas of the Indian Himalaya. Conservation Biology 19(2):368–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kumar N. 1996. Tourism and Economic Development. APH, New Delhi.Google Scholar
  16. Kuniyal J.C., Jain A.P. and Shannigrahi A.S. 2003. Environmental impacts of tourism in Kullu-Manali complex in north western Himalaya, India. part 1: the adverse impacts. International Journal of field work studies 1(1).Google Scholar
  17. Magurran A.E. 1988. Ecological Diversity and its Measurements. Croom Helm Ltd., London.Google Scholar
  18. Misra R. 1968. Ecological Workbook. Oxford and IBH, Calcutta.Google Scholar
  19. Mueller-Dombois D. and Ellenberg H. 1974. Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology. John Wiley and Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  20. Sood S.K., Nath R. and Kalia D.C. 2001. Ethnobotany of Cold Desert Tribes of Lahaul-Spiti (N. W. Himalaya). Deep Publication, New Delhi.Google Scholar
  21. Tandon H.L.S. 2001. Methods of Analysis of Soils, Plants, Waters and Fertilizers. Fertilizer Development and Consultation Organization (FDCO), New Delhi.Google Scholar
  22. TIES (The International Ecotourism Society). 2006. What is ecotourism?
  23. Uniyal S.K., Awasthi A. and Rawat G.S. 2002. Current status and distribution of commercially exploited medicinal and aromatic plants in upper Gori valley, Kumaon Himalaya, Uttaranchal. Current Science 82(10): 246–1252.Google Scholar
  24. Uniyal S.K., Kumar A., BrijLal and Singh R.D. 2006. Quantitative assessment and traditional uses of high value medicinal plants in Chhota Bhangal area of Himachal Pradesh, western Himalaya. Current Science 91(9): 1238–1242.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. N. Singh
    • 1
  • Gopichand
    • 1
  • Amit Kumar
    • 1
  • Brij Lal
    • 1
    Email author
  • N. P. Todaria
    • 2
  1. 1.Biodiversity DivisionInstitute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR)Palampur, Himachal PradeshIndia
  2. 2.Forestry departmentHNB Garhwal UniversitySrinagar, UttarakhandIndia

Personalised recommendations