Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 884–897 | Cite as

Phytodiversity and medicinal plant distribution in pasturelands of North Western Himalaya in relation to environmental gradients

  • Javaid M. DadEmail author


This study aimed at elucidating phytodiversity of pasturelands of North-western Kashmir Himalayan biotic province in relation to various environmental gradients, with added focus on assessing distribution of important threatened medicinal plant taxa across surveyed pasturelands. A total of 16 sites that spanned across a broad altitudinal gradient (2502–4120 m) were selected. Phytosociological data like density, cover, frequency and abundance of vascular flora were collected and processed using gradient analysis. Soil moisture, nitrogen, organic carbon, acidity and electrical conductivity, altitude, degree of slope and human disturbance were recorded from each site. Analysis of species composition showed a total of 293 species of vascular plants, belonging to 192 genera and 64 families recorded from surveyed sites. Rank abundance exhibited that majority of species are locally rare and patchily distributed, with over 60% of species recording frequencies between 0%–20% and none showing frequencies more than 80%. Species richness showed significant variations and ranged from 20 (Parihasmaidan) to 114 (Nagbarren) for macro and 3.53±2.11 (Thajwas) to 8.76± 1.01 (Marsar) for micro-scale of measurement. The Shannon-Wiener (H′) and Simpson’s diversity (Ds) indices also varied greatly and were recorded highest (H′= 2.76 & Ds= 0.36) for Marsar and lowest (0.87 & 0.62) for Parihasmaidan. The diversity attributes suggested that pasturelands with lower species richness and diversity on macro-scale were not always species poor and less diverse on micro- measurement scale. The life form groupings highlighted the hemicryptophytic character of vegetation and species with highest importance value index were Sibbaldia cuneata (5.71), Rumex nepalensis (2.89), Juniperus wallichiana (2.88), Cynodon dactylon (2.83), Poa annua (2.49) and Sambucus wightiana (2.41). The results of canonical correspondence analysis showed that effect of altitude and anthropogenic disturbance was overriding and among various environmental factors, species distribution was mainly correlated with altitude along first canonical axis, while to second axis anthropogenic disturbances were important. Using generalized additive model, these variables also appeared as significant predictors for distribution of various threatened taxa. The findings of this study may thus help in evolving an appropriate strategy and an ecological management tool for long term conservation and management of these mountain ecosystems.


Anthropogenic disturbance Kashmir Himalaya Medicinal plants Mountain grasslands 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



The work was funded by University Grants Commission, New Delhi under its Dr. D. S Kothari PostDoctoral Fellowship Program (F-4-2/2006(BSR)/13-674/2012(BSR) awarded to the author.

Supplementary material

11629_2018_5104_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (292 kb)
Supplementary material, approximately 292 KB


  1. Ali SI (2008) Significance of Flora with special reference to Pakistan. Pakistan Journal of Botany 40: 967–971.Google Scholar
  2. Angassa A, Oba G (2010) Effects of grazing pressure, age of enclosures and seasonality on bush cover dynamics and vegetation composition in southern Ethiopia. Journal of Arid Environments 74:111–120. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baig B, Ramamoorthy D, Bhat TA (2013) Threatened medicinal plants of Menwarsar Pahalgam, Kashmir Himalayas: Distribution pattern and current conservation status. Proceedings of the International Academy of Ecology and Environmental Sciences 3(1): 25–35.Google Scholar
  4. Banerjee MR, David L, Burton WP, et al. (2000) Influence of pasture management on soil biological quality. Journal of Range Management 53:127–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bojko O, Kabala C, Mendyk L, et al. (2017) Labile and stabile soil organic carbon fractions in surface horizons of mountain soils — relationships with vegetation and altitude. Journal of Mountain Science 14: 2391. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Canals RM, Sebastia MT (2000) Soil nutrient fluxes and vegetation changes on molehills. Journal of Vegetation Science 11: 23–30. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chaneton EJ, Lavado RS (1996) Soil nutrients and salinity after long-term grazing exclusion in a Flooding Pampa grassland. Journal of Range Management 49: 182–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cunningham WP, Saigo BW (1999) Environmental sciences: a global concern. Boston (MA): The McGraw-Hill Companies. p 640.Google Scholar
  9. Curtis JT (1959) The Vegetation of Wisconsin. An Ordination of plant communities. University Wisconsin press, Madison Wisconsin. p 657.Google Scholar
  10. Curtis JT, Mcintosh RP (1950). The Interrelation of certain analytic and synthetic phytosociological characters. Ecology 31: 434–455. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dad JM, Khan AB (2010) Floristic composition of alpine grassland in Bandipora, Kashmir. Grassland Science 56: 87–94. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dad JM, Khan AB (2011) Threatened medicinal plants of Gurez valley, Kashmir Himalayas: distribution pattern and current conservation status International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management 7(1): 20–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dad JM, Reshi ZA (2015) Influence of environmental and anthropogenic factors on the species distribution of alpine rangelands of Gurez valley, Kashmir, India. Tropical Ecology 56 (3): 335–346.Google Scholar
  14. Dar GH, Naqshi AR (2001) Threatened flowering plants of the Kashmir Himalaya — a checklist. Oriental Science 2: 23–53.Google Scholar
  15. Facelli JM, Springbett H (2009) Why do some species in arid lands increase under grazing? Mechanisms that favour increased abundance of Maireana pyramidata in overgrazed chenopod shrublands of South Australia. Australian Journal of Ecology 34: 588–597. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Froehlich HA, Mcnabb DH (1983) Minimizing soil compaction in Pacific Northwest Forests. In: Stone EL (eds.), Proceedings of Sixth North American Forest Soils Conference on Forest soils and treatment impacts. University of Tennessee Conferences, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, Knoxville. pp 159–192.Google Scholar
  17. Gotelli NJ, Entsminger GL (2011) EcoSim: Null models software for ecology. Version 7. Acquired Intelligence Inc. and Kesey-Bear.
  18. Gupta PK (1999) Soil, Plant, Water and Fertilizer Analysis. Agro Botanica, publishers, Vyas Nagar. Bikaner, India. p 438.Google Scholar
  19. Hester A, Brooker R (2007) Threatened habitats: marginal vegetation in upland areas. Issues in Environmental Science and Technology 25: 107–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hill MO (1979) TWINSPAN- A FORTRAN Programme for arranging multivariate data in an ordered two-way table by classification of the individuals and attributes. Ecology and Systematics, Cornell University Ithaca, New York.Google Scholar
  21. IUCN (1998) 1997 IUCN Red List of threatened Plants. In: Walter KS, Gillet HJ (eds.), Complied by the WCMC. IUCN-The World Conservation Union. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, U.K. 1 xiv+ 862 pp.Google Scholar
  22. Jackson ML (1962) Soil Chemical Analysis. Constable Company Ltd., London. p521.Google Scholar
  23. Johnston A, Dormaar JF, Smoliak S (1971) Long term grazing effects on fescue grassland soils. Journal of Range Management 24: 185–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Körner C (1995) Alpine plant diversity: a global survey and functional interpretations. In: Chapin FS, Körner C (eds.), Arctic and Alpine Biodiversity: Patterns, Causes and Ecosystem Consequences. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg. pp 45–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Körner C (2004) Mountain Biodiversity, Its Causes and Function. Ambio (13): 11–17.Google Scholar
  26. Liu S, Du Y, Zhang F, et al. (2016) Distribution of soil carbon in different grassland types of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau Journal of Mountain Science 13: 1806. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Magurran AE (2004) Measuring Biological Diversity. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford. p 256.Google Scholar
  28. Mishra R (1968) Ecology Workbook. Oxford & IBH, Calcutta. p 244.Google Scholar
  29. Mueller-Dumbois, Ellenberg H (1974) Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology. John Willey and Sons, New York. p 547.Google Scholar
  30. Nautiyal BP, Pandey N, Bhatt AB (1997) Analysis of vegetation pattern in an alpine zone in North West Himalaya: a case study of Garhwal Himalaya with reference to diversity and distribution patterns. International Journal of Ecology and Environmental Sciences 23:49–65.Google Scholar
  31. Negi GCS, Rikhari HC, Ram J, et al. (1993) Foraging niche characteristics of horses, sheep and goats in an alpine meadow of the Indian Central Himalaya. Journal of Applied Ecology 30: 383–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Olff H, Ritchie ME (1998) Effects of herbivores on grassland plant diversity. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 13:261–265. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Paustian K, Cole CV, Sauerbeck D, et al. (1998) CO2 mitigation by agriculture: An overview. Climate Change 40: 135–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rahel FJ (1990) The hierarchical nature of community persistence: A problem of scale. American Naturalist 136: 328–344. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rudmann-Maurer K, Weyand A, Fischer M, et al. (2008) The role of land use and natural determinants for grassland vegetation composition in the Swiss Alps. Basic and Applied Ecology 9: 494–503. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Samant SS, Dhar U, Rawal RS (1996) Conservation of rare endangered plants: the context of Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. In: Ramakrishnan & PS (eds.), Conservation and management of biological resources in Himalaya. New Delhi (India), Oxford & IBH Publishing Co. pp 521–545.Google Scholar
  37. Shaheen H, Khan SM, Harper DM, et al. (2011) Species Diversity, Community Structure, and Distribution Patterns in Western Himalayan Alpine Pastures of Kashmir, Pakistan. Mountain Research and Development 31(2): 153–159. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. ter Braak CJF, Smilauer P (2012) CANOCO 5 Reference Manual and Cano Draw for Windows. User’s guide to Canoco for Windows: software for canonical community ordination. Ithaca, New York: Microcomputer Power.Google Scholar
  39. Varela ME, DeBlas E, Bentto E (2001) Physical soil degradation induced by deforestation and slope modification in a temperate-humid environment. Land Degradation and Development 12:477–484. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Vargas G, Werden LK, Powers JS (2015) Explaining legume success in tropical dry forests based on seed germination niches- a new hypothesis. Biotropica 47: 277–280. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Virtanen R (2000) Effects of grazing on above- ground biomass on a mountain snow bed, NW Finland. Oikos 90: 295–300. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Walkley A, Black IA (1934) An examination of the Degtjareff method for determining organic carbon in soils: Effect of variations in digestion conditions and of inorganic soil constituents. Soil Science 63: 251–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Yang YH, Mohammat A, Feng JM, et al. (2007) Storage, patterns and controls of soil organic carbon in China. Biogeochemistry (84):131–141.

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Central Institute of Temperate HorticultureSrinagarIndia

Personalised recommendations