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Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 351–361 | Cite as

Riparian vegetation dynamics across two different landscapes along the river Cauvery in the Kodagu region of Western Ghats

  • C. SunilEmail author
  • R. K. Somashekar
  • B. C. Nagaraja
Article

Abstract

Decades of commercial planting and other anthropogenic processes are posing a threat to the riparian landscapes of the Cauvery river basin, which supports a high floral diversity. Despite this, the habitats in the upstream sections of the River Cauvery are still intact, as they are located in sacred groves. To understand the dynamism of riparian forests exposed to anthropogenic pressures, the upstream stretch of Cauvery extending from Kushalanagara to Talacauvery (∼102 km) was categorized into two landscapes: agro ecosystem and sacred (i.e. preserved). The tree species were sampled using belt transects at 5 km intervals and the regeneration status of endemic species assessed using quadrats. A total of 128 species belonging to 47 families, and representing 1,590 individuals, was observed. Amongst them, 65% of unique species were exclusive to sacred landscapes. A rarefaction plot confirmed higher species richness for the sacred compared to the agro ecosystem landscapes, and diversity indices with more evenness in distribution were evident in sacred landscapes. A significant loss of endemic tree species in the agro ecosystem landscapes was found. Overall, this study demonstrates that an intense biotic pressure in terms of plantations and other anthropogenic activities have altered the species composition of the riparian zone in non-sacred areas. A permanent policy implication is required for the conservation of riparian buffers to avoid further ecosystem degradation and loss of biodiversity.

Keywords

Western Ghats Riparian vegetation Cauvery River Sacred grove Agro ecosystem landscape Diversity indices Endemic species 

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Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceBangalore UniversityBangaloreIndia

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