Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 331–342 | Cite as

Micro-site conditions of epiphytic orchids in a human impact gradient in Kathmandu valley, Nepal

  • Yagya Prasad AdhikariEmail author
  • Anton Fischer
  • Hagen Siegfried Fischer


We studied distribution and site conditions of epiphytic orchids in a gradient of human interference in Kathmandu valley, central Nepal. The aim was to understand the recent distribution pattern of epiphytic orchids, with respect to (i) the micro-site conditions and (ii) the type and intensity of land use. The occurrence of epiphytic orchids was recorded for a grid with 1.5 km cell size. The cells represent different types and intensities of human impact. Site factors such as bark rugosity, bark pH, diameter at breast height (dbh; 1.3 m) of host trees, exposure to wind and sunlight intensity were recorded. With regard to the species richness and abundance of epiphytic orchids, we compared different human impact categories from very strong human impact (settlement area) to very low human impact (national park). Remote sensing was used for a supervised classification of land cover. Ficus religiosa turned out to be the most important host species for orchids in urban areas, while Schima wallichii and Alnus nepalensis significantly host orchids in the other categories. Both species richness and abundance of epiphytic orchids were significantly higher under very low human impact (forest in national park) and also some remaining patches of primary forest than the other regions. Micro-climate is crucial for orchid populations. Host bark pH, bark rugosity, sunlight intensity and host exposure were significantly different for all human impact categories in order to harbour epiphytic orchid species. Habitats with a mixture of mature trees are suitable and essential for the conservation of viable populations of epiphytic orchids in settled areas. The study reveals that to improve the population size of orchids it is essential for future urban forestry to: (i) Protect old trees as carriers of existing epiphytic orchid diversity, (ii) protect medium old trees to ensure that they may become old trees, (iii) plant new host trees for the future, (iv) plant in groups instead of single isolate trees. Trees should especially be planted in areas where orchids still exist to provide more trees for orchid population enlargement (e.g. along riparian system). Native species should be favoured; the pool of such native host species is wide.


Human impact Host tree Micro-climate Epiphytic orchids Remote sensing Conservation Nepal 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Acharaya KP, Vetaas OR, Birks HJB (2011) Orchid species richness along Himalayan elevational gradients. Journal of Biogeography 38(9):1821–1833.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ackerman JD, Sabat A, Zimmerman JK (1996) Seedling establishment in an epiphytic orchid: an experimental study of seed limitation. Oecologia 106:192–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adhikari YP, Fischer A (2011) Distribution pattern of the epiphytic orchid Rhynchostylis retusa under strong human influence in Kathmandu valley, Nepal. Botanica Orientalis: Journal of Plant Science 8: 90–99.Google Scholar
  4. Banman C (2002) Supervised and unsupervised land use classification. [Accessed on 2011-05-25]
  5. Barthlott W, Neuerburg VS, Nieder J, et al. (2001) Diversity and abundance of vascular epiphytes: a comparison of secondary vegetation and primary montane rain forest in the Venezuelan Andes. Plant Ecology 152: 145–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Benzing DH (1990) Vascular Epiphytes General Biology and Related Biota. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. p 376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bergstrom BJ, Carter R (2008) Host-tree selection by an epiphytic orchid, Epidendrum magnoliae Muhl. (green fly orchid), in an inland hardwood hammock in Georgia. Southeastern Naturalist 7(4): 571–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bose TK, Bhattacharjee SK, Das P, et al. (1999) Orchids of India. Naya Prakash 206 Bidhan Sarani, Calcutta 7000 006 India.Google Scholar
  9. Bruce CM, Hilbert DW (2004) Pre-processing Methodology for Application to Landsat TM/ETM+ Imagery of the Wet Tropics. Cooperative Research Centre for Tropical Rainforest Ecology and Management. Rainforest CRC, Cairns.Google Scholar
  10. Callaway RM (1998) Are positive interactions species-specific? Oikos 82: 202–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Callaway RM, Reinhart KO, Moore G W, et al. (2002) Epiphyte host preferences and host traits: mechanisms for speciesspecific interactions. Oecologia 132: 221–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chaudhary RP, Subedi A, Shakya LR, et al. (2002) Orchid diversity in Arun River and Marsyangdi River valley of Nepal: distribution and conservation priorities. In: Vegetation and Society (R.P. Chaudhary, B.P. Subedi, O.R. Vetaas and T.H. Aase, eds.) Tribhuvan University, Nepal and University of Bergen, Norway. p 108–117.Google Scholar
  13. Chawla A, Rajkumar S, Singh KN, et al. (2008) Plant species diversity along an altitudinal gradient of Bhabha valley in Western Himalaya. Journal of Mountain Science 5:157–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cherevchenko T, Zaimenko NV, Martynenko OI (2001) Effect of microgravity on biology of development and physiologicalbiological peculiarities of orchids with different morphoecotypes. Microgravity Research and Applications in Physical Sciences and Biotechnology, Proceedings of the First International Symposium held 10–15 September, 2000 in Sorrento, Italy.Google Scholar
  15. Farmer AM, Bates JW, Bell JNB (1990) Short communications: A comparison of methods for the measurement of bark pH. Lichenologist 22(2): 191–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fischer A, Blaschke M, Baessler C (2011) Altitudinal gradients in biodiversity research: the state of the art and future perspectives under climate change aspects. AFSV (urn: nbn: de: 0041.afsv-01140).Google Scholar
  17. Gentry AH, Dodson CH (1987) Diversity and biogeography of neotropical vascular epiphytes. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 74: 205–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Ghimire M (2008) Epiphytic orchids of Nepal. Banko Janakari 18(2): 53–63.Google Scholar
  19. Heitz P (1999) Diversity and conservation of epiphytes in a changing environment. Proceedings of the International Conference on Biodiversity and Bioresources: Conservation and Utilization. Phuket, Thailand. p 23-27.Google Scholar
  20. Hirata A, Kamijo T, Saito S (2008) Host trait preferences and distribution of vascular epiphytes in a warm-temperate forest. Plant Ecology 201: 247–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kaushik P (1983) Ecological and Anotomical Marvels of the Himalayan Orchids. Today and tomorrow’s printers and Publishers, New Delhi, India.Google Scholar
  22. Kress WJ (1986) The systematic distribution of vascular epiphytes: an update. Selbyana 9: 2–22.Google Scholar
  23. Krömer T, Kessler M, Gradstein SR, Acebey A (2005) Diversity patterns of vascular epiphytes along an elevational gradient in the Andes. Journal of Biogeography 32: 1799–1809.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Light MHS, Koopowitz H, Marchant TA (2003) The impact of climatic, edaphic and physiographic factors on the population behaviour of selected temperate and tropical orchids. In: Dixon KW, Kell SP, Barrett RL, Cribb PJ (eds.), Orchid Conservation. Natural History Publications, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. p 159–182.Google Scholar
  25. Liu GF, Zang RG, Ding Y (2010) Diversity and distribution of epiphytic orchids in different types of old-growth tropical forests in Bawangling National Nature Reserve, Hainan Island, China. Chinese Journal of Plant Ecology 34(4): 396–408.Google Scholar
  26. Madison M (1977) Vascular epiphytes: their systematic occurrence and salient features. Selbyana 2: 1–13.Google Scholar
  27. Markham BL, Barker JL (1987) Thematic mapper bandpass solar exoatmospheric irradiances. International Journal of Remote Sensing 8: 517–523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Marmor L, Randlane T (2007) Effects of road traffic on bark pH and epiphytic lichens in Tallinn. Folia Cryptogamica Estonica 43: 23–37.Google Scholar
  29. Medhi RP, Chakrabarti S (2009) Traditional knowledge of NE people on conservation of wild orchids. Indian Journal of Traditional knowledge 8 (1): 11–16.Google Scholar
  30. Migenis LE, Ackerman JD (1993) Orchid-phorophyte relationships in a forest watershed in Puerto Rico. Journal of Tropical Ecology 9: 231–240.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mitchell AW, Secoy K, Jackson T (2002) The Global Canopy handbook. Techniques of Access and Study in the Forest Roof. Global Canopy Programme, Oxford. p 248.Google Scholar
  32. Nadkarni NM (1984) Epiphyte biomass and nutrient capital of a neotropical elfin forest. Biotropica 16: 249–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Nieder JP, Michaloud G (2001) Epiphytes and their contribution to canopy diversity. Plant Ecology 153: 51–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pant PR, Dangol D (2009) Kathmandu Valley Profile, Briefing Paper: Governance and Infrastructure Development Challenges in the Kathmandu Valley. Workshop: 11–13 February 2009, Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Nepal. p 15.Google Scholar
  35. Pyakurel D, Grung K (2008) Enumeration of orchids and estimation of current stock of traded orchids in Rolpa district. Final report. District forest office Rolpa. p 38.Google Scholar
  36. R Development Core Team (2010) R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. ISBN 3-900051-07-0, URL [Accessed on 2011-04-25]
  37. Rajbhandari KR, Bhattarai S (2001) Beautiful Orchids of Nepal, Kathmandu. Kishor Offset Press, Kathmandu, Nepal. p 220.Google Scholar
  38. Raskoti BB (2009) The Orchids of Nepal. Bhakta Bahadur Raskoti and Rita Ale, Quality Printers, Kathmandu Nepal. p 252.Google Scholar
  39. Sankhayan PL, Gurung N, Sitaula BK, et al. (2003) Bioeconomic modeling of land use and forest degradation at watershed level in Nepal. Agriculture, Ecosystem and Enviornment 94:105–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Schmidt J, Kricke R, Feige GB (2001) Measurements of bark pH with a modified flathead electrode. Lichenologist 33: 456–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sharma A (2010) Diversity and distribution pattern of epiphytic orchids along Bhote Koshi gorge (Upper Tamakoshi valley), Dolakha, Central Nepal. MSc. Dissertation Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal. p 64.Google Scholar
  42. Sharma P (2003) Urbanization and development. In: Population Monograph of Nepal. Central Bureau of Statistics. Government of Nepal, Kathmandu, p 375–412.Google Scholar
  43. Shitindi EFK (1996) On the Causes of Deforestation in Tanzania: An Economic Study. M. Phil. Economics dissertation. Department of Economics, University of Bergen, Norway.Google Scholar
  44. Shrestha BB, Jha PK (2009) Habitat range of two alpine medicinal plants in a Trans-Himalayan dry valley, Central Nepal. Journal of Mountain Science 6: 66–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Shrestha K (1998) Dictionary of Nepalese Plant Names. Mandala Book Point, Kantipath, Kathmandu, Nepal. p 267.Google Scholar
  46. Song C, Woodcock CE, Seto KC, et al. (2001) Classification and change detection using landsat TM data: when and how to correct atmospheric effects? Remote Sensing of Environment 75: 230–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Song L, Liu W, Ma W, et al. (2010) Bole epiphytic bryophytes on Lithocarpus xylocarpus (Kurz) Markgr. in the Ailao Mountains, SW China. The Ecological Society of Japan 26: 351–363.Google Scholar
  48. WCSP (2011) World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. [Accessed on 2011-06-05]
  49. White K, Sharma B (2000) Wild orchids in Nepal. The Guide to the Himalayan Orchids of the Tribhuvan Rajpath and Chitwan Jungle. White Lotus Press, Bangkok 10501, Thailand. p 306.Google Scholar
  50. Wolf JHD, Gradstein SR, Nadkarni NM (2009) A protocol for sampling vascular epiphyte richness and abundance. Journal of Tropical Ecology 25: 107–121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Wolf JHD, Konings CJF (2001) Toward the sustainable harvesting of epiphytic bromeliads: a pilot study from the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. Biological Conservation 101: 23–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wolf JHD (1994) Factors controlling the distribution of vascular and nonvascular epiphytes in the northern Andes. Vegetatio 112: 15–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tupac OJ, Aragon S, Ackerman JD (2007) Site variation in spatial aggregation and phorophyte preference in Psychilis monensis (Orchidaceae). Biotropica 39(2): 227–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zimmerman JK, Olmsted IC (1992) Host tree utilization by vascular epiphytes in a seasonally inundated forest (Tintal) in Mexico. Biotropica 24: 402–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zotz G (2007) Johansson revisited: the spatial structure of epiphyte assemblages. Journal of Vegetation Science 18: 123–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yagya Prasad Adhikari
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anton Fischer
    • 1
  • Hagen Siegfried Fischer
    • 1
  1. 1.Geobotany, Department of Ecology and Ecosystem ManagementTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany

Personalised recommendations