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Environmental Sustainability

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 279–293 | Cite as

Diversity, composition and structure of understorey vegetation in the tropical forest of Achanakmaar Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve, India

  • Tarun Kumar ThakurEmail author
Original Article
  • 360 Downloads

Abstract

The present study was conducted on the floristic composition, structure, diversity and biomass of understorey vegetation in the dry tropical forest of Achanakmaar Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve (AABR) of India using phyto-sociological analysis in each forest type by randomly laying ten sample plots of 1 × 1 m size. The herbs were enumerated for their girth and height in sampling plots. The structure, diversity and biomass of herb communities were analyzed at forest type level and the study found 2919 plant individuals belonging to 66 species, 62 genera and 31 families. The most important family as determined by the Family Importance Value (FIV) was Poaceae in herbs layer. In terms of Importance Value Index (IVI), the herb Arthraxon hispidus (Poaceae) was the most vital species in the herbaceous community. The present study revealed that the density of herbaceous community ranged from 0.40 to 244.80 herbs ha−1 in various forest types, Basal area was recorded highest in Sal mixed forest (0.00373 m2 ha−1) and lowest was found in Bamboo forest (0.00188 m2 ha−1). The number of species in different forests varied from 14 to 32. Similarly, the Shannon index values in different forest types varied from 2.18 to 3.64, Simpson index values ranged from 0.045 to 0.17, the values of species richness from 16.69 to 30.52 and species evenness ranged from 0.81 to 0.95 in herb vegetation of different forest types. Shannon index values recorded in Sal mixed forest and Bamboo forest were found to be minimum. In contrary, Bamboo forest recorded maximum dominance of species as compared to other forests. Interestingly, beta diversity values ranged from 3.12 to 7.36 and it was observed to be highest in Bamboo forest and lowest in Sal mixed forest. However, the total herbaceous biomass varied from 86.28 g m−2 to 321 g m−2. The study recommends adopting intensive conservation measures especially in the open mixed forest and immature Teak plantations. In addition to it, encouraging and improving sal regeneration in sal mixed forests will not only help in reducing the biotic pressure but also in restoring and conserving the fragile dry tropical forest ecosystems of India.

Keywords

Achanakmaar Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve Biomass Family importance value Phytodiversity Species richness Tropical forest 

Introduction

The wealth of flora and fauna reflects the natural heritage of biodiversity. Taking in view the immense ecological and economic significance, Achanakmaar Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve (AABR) was declared as 14th biosphere reserve of India. Interestingly, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) also recognized the Amarkantak Biosphere reserve as one of the world’s heritage sites. However, biodiversity is being increasingly threatened largely because of various factors such as environmental degradation by unprecedented anthropogenic activities like overexploitation of natural resources, deforestation, mining, infrastructure development, and human settlements leading to fragmentation and degradation of habitats, and resultant loss of biodiversity.

Tropical ecosystems are usually perceived to be rich biodiversity reserves (Brown 1996; Schimel 1995; Apguaua et al. 2015). Due to human activities such as pollution, over grazing and land alterations, floral diversity in these forests varies from place to place directly affecting the structure, composition, diversity, productivity, and consequently altering the global ecology (FAO 1995; King et al. 1997; Sundarapandian and Karoor 2013).

The herbaceous community is an essential component of forest ecosystems which associates a large area of total floristic composition, diversity and stand structure (Gentry and Dodson 1987; Gentry and Emmons 1987; Mayfield and Daily 2005; Tchouto et al. 2006) providing ecosystem services such as harvest gums, resins, oilseeds, grasses, flowers, seeds, medicinal herbs, bamboos, canes, edible foods like Mahua, fruits, nuts, mushrooms, wild leafy vegetables, tubers, etc. (Gentry and Emmons 1987; Hirao et al. 2009). Herbaceous vegetation stimulates community dynamics and succession patterns (Newbery et al. 1999; Royo and Carson 2006) which affect the nutrient cycling, biomass and productivity (Nilsson and Wardle 2005). Moreover, understory composition usually varies considerably among different forest types (Hart and Chen 2008). Forest stand, structure and composition is very important to understand forest ecosystems (Ozcelik 2009; Naidu and Kumar 2016). The herbaceous vegetation is only a small quantity of the total biomass in the forest ecosystems, however, herbs play an important role in shaping the ecological characteristics of the forests (Ovington 1955; Whittaker 1966). Interestingly, Thakur (2007) reported that herbaceous layer constitutes 0.28–0.68 Mg ha−1 year−1 of the total forest biomass and contributes 3.0–6.75% to the total stand’s net production.

According to Forest Survey of India (FSI) (2015) the total forest cover of India is 21.34% of the geographical area. The very dense forest (VDF) class constitutes 2.61 percent, the moderately dense forest (MDF) class constitutes 9.59% and the open forest (OF) class constitutes 9.14% of the total forest cover of total geographical area of the country. It represents 11.4% of the world flora (Arisdason and Lakshminarasimhan 2016). In India 54% and 37% of tropical forests are classed as dry and moist deciduous forests respectively (Krishnamurthy et al. 2010; FSI 2015). Moreover, the amount, the rate and intensity of land use and land cover are very high in dry tropical forest ecosystems of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh states in India. The pressure on land resources has greatly increased over the last few decades in the region due to increase in population and enhanced demands for food, fodder, firewood, timber, medicine, fiber, etc. (Thakur et al. 2014).

Earlier studies have focused on the response of herbaceous communities to biomass productivity, litterfall along with the environmental gradients (Struik and Curtis 1962; Anderson et al. 1969; Chandrasekaran and Swamy 2002; Shirima et al. 2015), whereas others highlighted the structural aspects of herbaceous layer such as biomass (Zavitkovski 1976). Interestingly, the undulating topography with varying degree of slopes of hills covered with dense Sal forests, Sal mixed forests, mixed forests, Bamboo brakes and manmade plantations harbor a large number of flora and fauna in and around Amarkantak. Moreover, many species are reported to be endemic to the region thus making it a rich repository of many useful plants and animals mainly edible, medicinal and aromatic plants and non-timber forest products (NTFPs). A lot of work has been carried out on the understory vegetation of the AABR which mostly comprises of tree structure, medicinal plants; however little attention was paid on understory vegetation, especially on herbaceous communities. The present study is done to characterize vegetation structure and diversity of groundstorey vegetation of AABR, India. This data will help to characterize groundstorey vegetation, especially helping in assessing the regeneration status of overstorey composition, which will be the most important and vital information to maintain the composition and condition of the crop by suitable silvicultural and management practices.

Materials and methods

Study area

The study was conducted in AABR during November 2015–November 2016, one of the natural heritage sites, mainly falling in Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh, India. It is located between 22°15′–22°58′ North latitudes and 81°25′N–82°5′ East longitudes. The AABR area includes Maikal hill ranges, the junction of Vindhya and Satpura hill ranges. The biosphere reserve falls in Malayan realm, Tropical Dry Deciduous Forest Biome and Deccan Peninsular bio-geographic zone of the country. Its total geographical area is 383551.0 ha. The core zone which falls in Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh state (CG) is a dense forest with terrains of hills and valleys and spread over in an area of 55,155 ha. The biosphere area experiences typical monsoon climate with three distinct seasons, summer from March till June, rainy from July till October and winter from November till February. Generally, May and June are the hottest months, whereas December and January are the coldest months of the year when minimum temperature reaches to 10 °C. The mean temperature in January is about 21 °C; and in May, the temperature rises between 31 and 33 °C. The mean annual temperature ranges between 21 and 31 °C. The annual rainfall of the area is about 1624.3 mm, distributed over average annual rainy days (range 71–118 days). The altitude varies from 450 to 1102.27 m above mean sea level (MSL) with the highest point being Damgarh (1102.27 m). The soils of the area are generally lateritic, alluvial and black cotton types, derived from granite, gneisses and basalt. Due to varied climatic, topographic and edaphic conditions, the reserve harbors unique and diverse flora and fauna. Vegetation of the forest area of the reserve represents tropical deciduous and can be further classified into Northern Tropical Moist Deciduous forests, Southern Dry Mixed Deciduous forests, Scrubs and Thorn forests and Ravinous vegetation. Shorea robusta (Sal) is predominantly found in moist deciduous forests, while species like Aegle, Terminalias, Bamboos, Ficus sp. and Dalbergia are commonly found in mixed forests. The location map of study area is depicted in Fig. 1.
Fig. 1

Study area and location of field study of Achanakmaar Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve

Phytosociological analysis

A line-transect (1 km N–S and E–W) survey was conducted in different forest types for determination of general floristic composition. The floral composition in each forest type was recorded to recognize dominant, codominant, and suppressed species.

The phytosociological analysis in each forest type has been carried by randomly laying ten sample plots of 1 × 1 m size, and a total of 50 quadrants (10 in each forest type) were laid in the various forests for herbaceous layers. The data was analyzed for density, abundance, frequency and basal area following the methods of Curtis and McIntosh (1950) and Whittaker (1972). The importance value index (IVI) was determined as the sum of relative frequency, relative density and relative dominance (Phillips 1959). Family importance vegetation index and diameter class-wise distribution were calculated for each selected plots in different forests and were compared.

To assess the ecological importance of different species and recognize the organizations of plant communities, the primary and secondary phytosociological analyses of vegetation has been done using phytosociological data collected from sample plots. Primary analysis was performed to observe absolute values of different parameters like density, frequency, abundance, basal area and mean height; and in the secondary analysis, the relative values of these primary variables were computed to derive IVI values for recognizing the predominant, codominant and suppressed communities.

Species diversity analysis

Herbaceous diversity were determined using basal cover values, and diversity indices in various forest types were computed using following indices; Diversity index (Shannon and Weaver 1963) was used for the species diversity H′ = − pi log 2 pi where pi is the proportion of total stand basal area represented by the ith species. Simpson’s concentration index was measured by Simpson index (Simpson 1949) Cd = (Ni/N)2 where, Cd is Simpson’s concentration of dominance, Ni is the IVI value of a species and N was the sum of total IVI values of all species in that forest type and it varies between 0 and 1; and Pielou’s evenness index was calculated by Pielou (1969), e = H′/In S; where H′ denotes to Diversity index and S presents number of species. Margaleaf’s index of species richness was intended by Margaleaf (1958) equation d = S − 1/In N, where S = total number of species, N = basal cover of all species (m2 ha−1); and Beta diversity (BD) was calculated as (Whittaker 1972) BD = Sc/s; Where Sc = total number of species in all sites and s is average species per site.

The various diversity indices were computed for different forest types to see the variation in plant diversity among different forest types. Attempts were also made to compute the parameters of diversity of each forest type in herbaceous vegetation. The modified family importance value (FIV) for each family was estimated as the sum of relative diversity and relative density of the individuals in that family. Species diversity and composition were compared among the five different forests to examine the variation of herbaceous composition in tropical dry forests of AABR.

Herbaceous biomass

Herbaceous biomass was estimated by harvest method when most of the species were at their peak growth, and biomass accumulation rate of herbaceous species was calculated as the difference between the initial biomass recorded during October–November 2015; and repeated peak biomass was calculated in the months of October–November 2016. Total fifty sampling plots of 1 m2 quadrants each were placed with line-transect method in different forest types. Herbs were clipped at ground level and sorted out into shoots and roots components.

Statistical analysis

The significant difference between treatment means for all parameters of structure, diversity and herbaceous biomass were tested at P < 0.05 using least significant difference test (Gomez and Gomez 1984). The best fit linear and non-linear models fulfilling assumptions of regression showing high r2 and significant t values were selected. The analysis of variance was performed in MS Excel statistical package and correlation and regression analysis were done using curve fit program in SPSS statistical software under PC environment.

Results

Species richness and diversity

The dry tropical forests of study area are luxuriant in species composition as depicted in Table 1. The study reveals 2919 individuals belonging to 66 species, 62 genera and 31 families of herbs which were enumerated (Table 2) in dry tropical forest of AABR, India. All the species enumerated and mentioned in Table 2 are naturally available in these forests.
Table 1

GPS locations, habitat types and other attributes of sampling sites

Forest type

Coordinates

Elevation (m)

Sub-climax species (arranging in ascending order according to dominance)

Sal mixed forest

Lat. 22°37′22.69″

1053

Arthraxon hispidus, Ageratum conizoides, Commelina diffusa, Colocasia esculenta

Long. 81°39′35.69″

Dense mixed forest

Lat. 22°38′52.46″

1032

Arthraxon hispidus, Rungia pectinata, Phyllanthus nirui Curcuma angustifolia, Sida acuta

Long. 81°41′45.68″

Teak plantation

Lat. 22°37′49.82″

1040

Arthraxon hispidus, Evolvulus nummularius, Lindernia dubia, Phyla nudiflora, Oxalis corniculata, Scoparia dulcis

Long. 81°39′45.76″

Open mixed forest

Lat. 22°38′26.56″

1046

Arthraxon hispidus, Macardonia procumbence, Phyllanthus nirui, Oxalis corniculata, Rungia pectinata, Sida acuta

Long. 81°40′37.37″

Bamboo Brakes

Lat. 22°36′12.06″

809

Rungia pectinata, Evolvulus nummularius, Smithia conferta, Oxalis corniculata, Phyllanthus nirui, Ocimum gratissimum

Long. 81°29′39.77″

Table 2

Herbaceous composition of dry tropical forest ecosystem of AABR

 

Common name

Scientific name

Family

Abundance

IVI

1

Pulpuli grass

Arthraxon hispidus

Poaceae

1744.0

38.47

2

Kharmor

Rungia pectinata

Acanthaceae

521.9

22.67

3

Tinpaniya

Oxalis corniculata

Oxalidaceae

362.8

18.51

4

Maskani

Evolvulus nummularius

Convolvulaceae

281.4

15.13

5

Bhui amla

Phyllaanthus nirui

Euphorbiaceae

501.3

14.83

6

Kharatti

Sida acuta

Malvaceae

279.6

14

7

Bariyari

Sida cordeta

Malvaceae

348.6

10.73

8

Ratolia

Phyla nudiflora

Verbenaceae

145.1

9.68

9

Kubbi

Ageratum conizoides

Asteraceae

272.9

8.82

10

Naichi bhaji

Smithia conferta

Fabaceae

326.7

7.87

11

Kaniya kanda

Dioscorea oppositifolia

Dioscoreaceae

90.0

7.34

12

Kena

Commelina diffusa

Commelinaceae

380.0

6.84

13

Salparni

Desmodium gangeticum

Fabaceae

85.0

6.31

14

Cigar plant

Cuphea balsamina

Lythraceae

196.7

5.88

15

Pihri chara

Macardonia procumbence

Scrophulariaceae

180.0

5.85

16

Jangli Tulsi

Ocimum gratissimum

Lamiaceae

56.7

5.69

17

Dubia

Lindernia dubia

Linderniaceae

161.9

5.31

18

Ghueen

Fimbristylis littoralis

Cyperceae

170.0

5.23

19

Chui mui

Mimosa pudica

Fabaceae

160.0

4.96

20

Meethi buti

Scoparia dulcis

Plantaginaceae

114.3

4.94

21

Chkoda

Cassia tora

caesalpiniaceae

104.0

4.77

22

Kurie

Bidense pilosa

Asteraceae

126.7

4.52

23

Brahmi

Bacopa monnieri

Plantaginaceae

122.9

4.51

24

Kevkand

Dioscorea bulbifera

Dioscoreaceae

28.0

4.06

25

Nagar motha

Cyperus gracilis

Poaceae

35.0

3.83

26

Ghuia

Colocasia esculenta

Araceae

48.0

3.77

27

Jungli sama

Echinochloa colona

Poaceae

83.3

3.58

28

Chauli

Alysicarpus monilifer

Fabaceae

85.0

3.49

29

Chirchita

Achyranthus aspera

Amaranthaceae

126.7

3.38

30

Bara

Flemingia sp.

Fabaceae

40.0

3.29

31

Tikhur

Curcuma angustifolia

Zingiberaceae

253.3

3.22

32

Hirankhuri

Emilia sonchifolia

Asteraceae

108.0

2.6

33

Kangni

Cetaria pumela

Poaceae

50.0

2.48

34

Baiga sikiyab

Digitari divaricatissima

Poaceae

40.0

2.23

35

Jangli marua

Eleusine indica

Poaceae

80.0

2.15

36

Kanghi

Blainvillea acmella

Asteraceae

40.0

2.11

37

Jangli pyaj

Urgenia indica

Liliaceae

40.0

2.11

38

Jungli dhania

Eryngium foetidum

Apiaceae

40.0

2.02

39

Kal megh

Andrographis paniculata

Acanthaceae

100.0

2.01

40

Chench

Corchorus trilloularis

Tiliaceae

120.0

1.76

41

Sitab

Ruta graveolens

Rutaceae

70.0

1.69

42

Soli

Aeschynomene americana

Fabaceae

40.0

1.54

43

Gul mehndi

Impatiens balsamina

Balsaminaceae

26.7

1.48

44

Wanak

Murcielago orchioides

Agavaceae

100.0

1.43

45

Amahaldi

Curcuma amada

Zingiberaceae

40.0

1.43

46

Khal muriya

Tridex procumbensis

Asteraceae

40.0

1.19

47

Bhrangraj

Eclipta alba

Asteraceae

20.0

1.16

48

Kutki

Panicum antidotale

Poaceae

100.0

1.13

49

Akarkara

Spilanthes paniculata

Asteraceae

60.0

0.85

50

Haddi mushli

Chlorophytum borivilianum

Asparangaceae

20.0

0.78

51

Chanchu

Corchorus fascicularis

Tiliaceae

40.0

0.77

52

Badi dudhi

Euphorbia hirta

Euphorbiaceae

40.0

0.77

53

Ghooma

Leucas aspera

Lamiaceae

60.0

0.75

54

Dudhali

Sopubia delphinifolia

Scrophulariaceae

20.0

0.74

55

Sadabahar

Periwinkle roseus

Apocynaceae

40.0

0.73

56

Safed murga

Celosia argentea

Amaranthaceae

20.0

0.70

57

Kev kand

Costus speciosus

Zingiberaceae

40.0

0.70

58

Grass lily

Iphigenia indica

Poaceae

40.0

0.70

59

Sarpgandha

Rauwolfia serpentina

Apocynaceae

60.0

0.67

60

Chirinya

Peristrophe roxburghiana

Acanthaceae

60.0

0.66

61

Chirula

Aerva Lanata

Amaranthaceae

80.0

0.60

62

Badranj boya

Nepeta cataria

Lamiaceae

60.0

0.59

63

Lal murga

Crossandra infumdibuliformis

Acanthaceae

20.0

0.55

64

Patthar choor

Plectranthus mollis

Lamiaceae

40.0

0.47

65

Katua shak

Alternanthera philoxeroides

Amaranthaceae

80.0

0.47

66

Chand kal

Macaranga peltata

Euphorbiaceae

20.0

0.37

    

9266.2

303.863

Diversity indices calculation reveals that herbaceous layer was the most diverse in Sal mixed forest and was least diverse in Bamboo forest. Shannon index values in different forest types ranged from 2.18 to 3.64. The diversity was highest in Sal mixed forest followed by open mixed forest, dense mixed forest, while it was lowest in bamboo forest. In contrary, the Simpson index values were found to be highest in Bamboo forest followed by Sal mixed forest. It ranged from 0.045 to 0.17 in vegetation of different forest types. The concentration of dominance was found to be lowest in open mixed forest; it was almost 72% less than the concentration of Bamboo forest. The species richness values ranged from 16.69 to 30.52 in all forest types. Teak forest recorded highest species richness followed by Sal mixed forest, Dense mixed forest, Open mixed forest and Bamboo forest. Dense mixed forest and Sal mixed forest attained higher equitability values, while Teak forest and Bamboo forest had comparatively the lowest values. Equitability values varied from 0.816 to 0.95 for different forest types. Beta diversity values ranged from 3.12 to 7.36. It was highest in Bamboo forest and lowest in Sal mixed forest (Table 3).
Table 3

Species diversity indices for herb layer of different forest types of tropical forest of India

Forest type

S

S/N

H′

D

E

β

Teak forest

24

0.23

2.86

0.059

30.52

0.816

4.29

Sal mixed forest

33

0.32

3.64

1.45

24.76

0.939

3.12

Dense mixed forest

29

0.28

3.16

0.051

24.31

0.94

3.55

Open mixed forest

31

0.30

3.25

0.045

23.76

0.95

3.32

Bamboo forest

14

0.13

2.18

0.17

16.69

0.83

7.36

S total number of species censused, S/N the rate of species increases per individual recorded, H′ Shannon–Wiener index. □ Simpson’s concentration index, D Margalef’s index of species richness, E Pielou’s evenness index, Β beta diversity

Structure and floristic composition

Results of herbaceous layer communities in forest of AABR are depicted in Fig. 2 and the density, basal area, species richness and frequency distribution of major forest types are presented in Fig. 3. Density varied from 0.40 to 244.80 plants m−2, frequency varied from 460 to 1210 and basal area ranged from 0.00188 to 0.00373 m2 ha−1 in different forest types. Density and basal area values were highest in Sal forest followed by Teak Plantation, Dense mixed forest, Open mixed forest and lowest in Bamboo forest; while frequency value was highest in Open mixed forest followed by Sal forest, Dense mixed forest, and minimum were found in Bamboo forest. The value of IVI ranged from 1.83 to 90.71 in different forests. Based on IVI values, species like Arthraxon hispidus, Ageratum conizoides, Oxalis corniculata, Lindernia dubia, Evolvulus nummularius, were found to be predominant and Bidense pilosa, Evolvulus nummularius, Oxalis corniculata, Phyla nudiflora were found codominant, while Bidense pilosa, Crossandra infumdibuliformis, Blainvillea acmella, Dioscorea oppositifolia, Phyla nudiflora, were found as suppressed in dry tropical forest (Tables 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).
Fig. 2

Herbaceous layer communities in different forests of AABR

Fig. 3

Density (a), Basal area (b), Species richness (c) and frequency (d) of dry tropical forests of AABR of India

Table 4

Phytosociological analysis of Sal mixed forest in AABR

 

Species

Density (m2)

Frequency (%)

BA (m2 ha−1)

RD (%)

RF (%)

RBA (%)

IVI

1

Achyranthus aspera

1.6

30

0.0001

1.13

2.61

3.64

7.38

2

Ageratum conizoides

20

70

0.0001

14.12

6.09

1.62

21.83

3

Arthraxon hispidus

26.4

100

0.0000

18.64

8.70

1.24

28.58

4

Bidense pilosa

0.4

10

0.0001

0.28

0.87

2.05

3.20

5

Blainvillea acmella

0.8

10

0.0003

0.56

0.87

9.13

10.56

6

Chlorophytum borivilianum

0.8

20

0.0001

0.56

1.74

1.62

3.92

7

Colocasia esculenta

4.8

50

0.0003

3.39

4.35

11.15

18.89

8

Commelina diffusa

4.8

60

0.0001

3.39

5.22

3.64

12.25

9

Costus speciosus

0.8

10

0.0001

0.56

0.87

2.05

3.48

10

Crossandra infumdibuliformis

0.4

10

0.0001

0.28

0.87

1.62

2.77

11

Cuphea balsamina

1.2

10

0.0001

0.85

0.87

3.06

4.78

12

Curcuma amada

1.6

20

0.0001

1.13

1.74

4.27

7.14

13

Curcuma angustifolia

3.2

30

0.0000

2.26

2.61

1.24

6.11

14

Cyperus gracilis

2

40

0.0001

1.41

3.48

3.06

7.95

15

Dioscorea oppositifolia

3.6

60

0.0001

2.54

5.22

2.05

9.81

16

Emilia sonchifolia

4.8

50

0.0000

3.39

4.35

1.24

8.98

17

Evolvulus nummularius

0.8

10

0.0001

0.56

0.87

3.64

5.08

18

Fimbristylis littoralis

1.2

10

0.0001

0.85

0.87

4.27

5.99

19

Impatiens balsamina

1.6

30

0.0001

1.13

2.61

3.64

7.38

20

Iphigenia indica

0.8

10

0.0001

0.56

0.87

2.05

3.48

21

Lindernia dubia

3.2

30

0.0001

2.26

2.61

1.62

6.49

22

Mimosa pudica

1.2

10

0.0003

0.85

0.87

9.13

10.84

23

Nepeta cataria

1.2

10

0.0000

0.85

0.87

1.24

2.96

24

Oxalis corniculata

18

100

0.0001

12.71

8.70

2.53

23.94

25

Phyla nudiflora

4.8

70

0.0001

3.39

6.09

2.05

11.52

26

Phyllanthus nirui

4

60

0.0001

2.82

5.22

3.06

11.10

27

Plectranthus mollis

0.8

10

0.0000

0.56

0.87

0.91

2.34

28

Rauwolfia serpentina

1.2

10

0.0001

0.85

0.87

1.62

3.34

29

Rungia pectinata

8.8

80

0.0001

6.21

6.96

2.05

15.22

30

Sida acuta

14.4

100

0.0003

10.17

8.70

8.19

27.06

31

Sida cordeta

0.4

10

0.0000

0.28

0.87

1.24

2.39

32

Smithia conferta

1.2

10

0.0003

0.85

0.87

11.15

12.87

33

Urgenia indica

0.8

10

0.0003

0.56

0.87

9.13

10.56

  

141.6

1150

0.0037

100.00

100.00

100.00

300.00

 

CD at 5%

SE 0.14

      
Table 5

Phytosociological analysis of teak forest in AABR

 

Species

Density (m2)

Frequency (%)

BA (m2 ha−1)

RD (%)

RF (%)

RBA (%)

IVI

1

Achyranthus aspera

0.80

10

0.00013

0.583

1.042

4.472

6.097

2

Alysicarpus monilifer

2.40

30

0.00008

1.749

3.125

2.646

7.520

3

Andrographis paniculata

1.20

10

0.00006

0.875

1.042

2.143

4.060

4

Arthraxon hispidus

12.00

100

0.00003

8.746

10.417

0.953

20.116

5

Bacopa monnieri

11.60

70

0.00010

8.455

7.292

3.202

18.948

6

Cassia tora

4.40

50

0.00008

3.207

5.208

2.646

11.062

7

Commelina diffusa

0.80

10

0.00025

0.583

1.042

8.574

10.198

8

Cuphea balsamina

2.00

20

0.00011

1.458

2.083

3.811

7.352

9

Digitari divaricatissima

0.80

10

0.00028

0.583

1.042

9.553

11.178

10

Dioscorea oppositifolia

0.40

10

0.00025

0.292

1.042

8.574

9.907

11

Echinochloa colona

5.20

60

0.00010

3.790

6.250

3.202

13.242

12

Eleusine indica

1.60

10

0.00025

1.166

1.042

8.574

10.782

13

Evolvulus nummularius

16.00

90

0.00005

11.662

9.375

1.694

22.730

14

Fimbristylis littoralis

0.80

10

0.00035

0.583

1.042

11.670

13.295

15

Lindernia dubia

15.20

70

0.00005

11.079

7.292

1.694

20.064

16

Mimosa pudica

2.40

20

0.00004

1.749

2.083

1.297

5.129

17

Murcielago orchioides

4.00

20

0.00006

2.915

2.083

2.143

7.142

18

Oxalis corniculata

10.80

60

0.00005

7.872

6.250

1.694

15.815

19

Phyla nudiflora

6.00

80

0.00006

4.373

8.333

2.143

14.850

20

Phyllanthus nirui

4.80

30

0.00015

3.499

3.125

5.187

11.810

21

Rungia pectinata

7.20

50

0.00006

5.248

5.208

2.143

12.600

22

Scoparia dulcis

10.40

70

0.00008

7.580

7.292

2.646

17.518

23

Sida acuta

6.40

40

0.00023

4.665

4.167

7.648

16.479

24

Sida cordeta

10.00

30

0.00005

7.289

3.125

1.694

12.107

  

137.20

960

0.00297

100

100

100

300

 

CD at 5%

SE 0.14

      
Table 6

Phytosociological analysis of dense mixed forest in AABR

 

Species

Density (m2)

Frequency (%)

BA (m2 ha−1)

RD (%)

RF (%)

RBA (%)

IVI

1

Aerva Lanata.

1.60

10

0.00004

0.48721

1.235

1.302

3.024

2

Ageratum conizoides

3.60

30

0.00004

0.00011

3.704

1.302

5.006

3

Alysicarpus monilifer

0.80

10

0.00011

0.00002

1.235

3.828

5.062

4

Andrographis paniculata

0.80

10

0.00013

0.00002

1.235

4.492

5.727

5

Arthraxon hispidus

244.80

100

0.00011

0.00745

12.346

3.828

16.181

6

Bacopa monnieri

0.80

10

0.00006

0.00002

1.235

2.153

3.388

7

Celosia argentea

0.40

10

0.00006

0.00001

1.235

2.153

3.388

8

Commelina diffusa

4.00

10

0.00003

0.00012

1.235

0.957

2.192

9

Corchorus trilloularis

0.80

20

0.00010

0.00002

2.469

3.216

5.685

10

Curcuma angustifolia

1.20

30

0.00008

0.00037

3.704

2.658

6.362

11

Cyperus gracilis

0.40

20

0.00025

0.00001

2.469

8.612

11.081

12

Desmodium gangeticum

0.40

40

0.00011

0.00001

4.938

3.828

8.766

13

Dioscorea bulbifera

0.80

50

0.00028

0.00002

6.173

9.595

15.768

14

Dioscorea oppositifolia

0.80

20

0.00025

0.00002

2.469

8.612

11.081

15

Echinochloa colona

0.80

10

0.00010

0.00002

1.235

3.216

4.451

16

Eryngium foetidum

0.80

10

0.00025

0.00002

1.235

8.612

9.847

17

Leucas aspera

1.20

10

0.00006

0.00004

1.235

2.153

3.388

18

Mimosa pudica

0.40

10

0.00005

0.00001

1.235

1.701

2.936

19

Panicum antidotale

2.00

10

0.00011

0.00006

1.235

3.828

5.062

20

Peristrophe roxburghiana

1.20

10

0.00005

0.00004

1.235

1.701

2.936

21

Periwinkle roseus

0.80

10

0.00006

0.00002

1.235

2.153

3.388

22

Phyllanthus nirui

16.00

80

0.00004

0.00049

9.877

1.302

11.179

23

Rungia pectinata

16.80

90

0.00011

0.00051

11.111

3.828

14.939

24

Ruta graveolens

2.00

20

0.00005

0.00006

2.469

1.701

4.170

25

Scoparia dulcis

3.20

40

0.00004

0.00010

4.938

1.302

6.241

26

Sida acuta

5.20

50

0.00006

0.00016

6.173

2.153

8.326

27

Sida cordeta

4.00

70

0.00008

0.00012

8.642

2.658

11.300

28

Spilanthes paniculata

1.20

10

0.00008

0.00004

1.235

2.658

3.893

29

Tridex procumbensis

0.80

10

0.00013

0.00002

1.235

4.492

5.727

  

328.40

810

0.00296

100

100

100

300

 

CD at 5%

SE 0.33

      
Table 7

Phytosociological analysis of bamboo forest in AABR

 

Species

Density (m2)

Frequency (%)

BA (m2 ha−1)

RD (%)

RF (%)

RBA (%)

IVI

1

Arthraxon hispidus

1.20

10

0.00028

1.24

2.17

15.02

18.44

2

Bidense pilosa

0.80

10

0.00005

0.83

2.17

2.66

5.67

3

Cetaria pumela

2.00

20

0.00011

2.07

4.35

5.99

12.41

4

Cuphea balsamina

2.80

30

0.00005

2.90

6.52

2.66

12.09

5

Desmodium gangeticum

3.20

20

0.00028

3.32

4.35

15.02

22.68

6

Evolvulus nummularius

16.00

80

0.00004

16.60

17.39

2.04

36.03

7

Flemingia sp.

0.80

10

0.00025

0.83

2.17

13.48

16.48

8

Ocimum gratissimum

4.40

60

0.00006

4.56

13.04

3.37

20.98

9

Oxalis corniculata

10.40

80

0.00006

10.79

17.39

3.37

31.55

10

Phyla nudiflora

0.40

10

0.00025

0.41

2.17

13.48

16.07

11

Phyllanthus nirui

6.00

20

0.00006

6.22

4.35

3.37

13.94

12

Rungia pectinata

30.40

70

0.00005

31.54

15.22

2.66

49.41

13

Sida cordeta

2.00

10

0.00025

2.07

2.17

13.48

17.73

14

Smithia conferta

16.00

30

0.00006

16.60

6.52

3.37

26.49

  

96.40

460

0.00188807

100

100

100

300

 

CD at 5%

SE 0.96

      
Table 8

Phytosociological analysis of open mixed forest in AABR

 

Species

Density (m2)

Frequency (%)

BA (m2 ha−1)

RD (%)

RF (%)

RBA (%)

IVI

1

Achyranthus aspera

1.20

10

0.00005

0.514

0.83

2.12

3.46

2

Aeschynomene americana

0.80

10

0.00015

0.342

0.83

6.51

7.68

3

Ageratum conizoides

11.20

80

0.00011

4.795

6.61

4.78

16.19

4

Alternanthera philoxeroides

1.60

10

0.00002

0.685

0.83

0.83

2.34

5

Alysicarpus monilifer

0.40

40

0.00003

0.171

3.31

1.20

4.67

6

Arthraxon hispidus

53.60

100

0.00008

22.945

8.26

3.32

34.53

7

Bidense pilosa

12.00

90

0.00003

5.137

7.44

1.20

13.77

8

Casia tora

7.20

60

0.00011

3.082

4.96

4.78

12.82

9

Commelina diffusa

6.00

30

0.00008

2.568

2.48

3.32

8.37

10

Corchorus fascicularis

0.80

10

0.00006

0.342

0.83

2.69

3.86

11

Corchorus trilloularis

2.00

10

0.00003

0.856

0.83

1.20

2.88

12

Cuphea balsamina

0.80

10

0.00009

0.342

0.83

4.02

5.19

13

Dioscorea bulbifera

0.40

10

0.00008

0.171

0.83

3.32

4.32

14

Dioscorea oppositifolia

1.20

30

0.00006

0.514

2.48

2.69

5.68

15

Eclipta alba

0.40

10

0.00001

0.171

0.83

4.78

5.78

16

Emilia sonchifolia

1.20

10

0.00006

0.514

0.83

2.69

4.03

17

Euphorbia hirta

0.80

10

0.00005

0.342

0.83

2.69

3.86

18

Evolvulus nummularius

8.40

80

0.00004

3.596

6.61

1.63

11.83

19

Fimbristylis littoralis

2.80

20

0.00009

1.199

1.65

4.02

6.87

20

Macaranga peltata

0.40

10

0.00002

0.171

0.83

0.83

1.83

21

Macardonia procumbence

36.00

100

0.00010

15.411

8.26

5.61

29.29

22

Mimosa pudica

0.40

10

0.00012

0.171

0.83

4.78

5.78

23

Ocimum gratissimum

0.40

10

0.00014

0.171

0.83

6.51

7.50

24

Oxalis corniculata

21.20

90

0.00012

9.075

7.44

4.78

21.29

25

Phyla nudiflora

3.20

30

0.00004

1.370

2.48

2.12

5.97

26

Phyllanthus nirui

27.60

100

0.00002

11.815

8.26

1.20

21.27

27

Rungia pectinata

15.20

90

0.00005

6.507

7.44

2.12

16.07

28

Ruta graveolens

0.40

10

0.00006

0.171

0.83

2.69

3.69

29

Sida acuta

13.60

90

0.00017

5.822

7.44

3.32

16.58

30

Sida cordeta

2.00

30

0.00014

0.856

2.48

5.61

8.95

31

Sopubia delphinifolia

0.40

10

0.00016

0.171

0.83

2.69

3.69

  

233.60

1210

0.00237

100

100

100

300

 

CD at 5%

SE 0.96

      

Relationship among herbaceous biomass and species richness

Total herbaceous biomass varied from 86.28 to 321 g m−2. It was highest in Sal mixed forest followed by Dense mixed forest, Teak forest, Open mixed forest and lowest in Bamboo forest. Sal mixed and Dense mixed forest had 1.92, 1.23 and 2.32 times higher herb biomass than Teak forest, Open mixed and Bamboo forests, respectively. The total herb biomass was statistically similar in Dense mixed and Sal mixed forest. Regression analysis indicated a significant (R2 = 0.262, P < 0.001) positive linear relationship between herb biomass and species richness for different forests (pooled data). On basis of the biomass production data (195–290 g m−2) maximum species richness was observed in Teak forest (Fig. 4).
Fig. 4

The relationship between herbaceous biomass (g m−2) and species richness species (m2) in different forests of AABR

Family importance value (FIV)

Poaceae (FIV 54.5) was the most speciose family in the different forests of AABR followed by Fabaceae (27.4), Acanthaceae (25.8), Asteraceae (21.26), Euphorbeaceae (15.90), while family importance value of Apocynaceae (1.39) was the lowest, as depicted in Fig. 5. On the basis of highest family importance value (FIV), highest number of species were found in Poaceae followed by Asteraceae, Fabaceae, Acanthaceae, Euphorbeaceae, Liliaceae and Verbenaceae (Table 9).
Fig. 5

Relationship among number of individual’s in family and FIV

Table 9

Top ten families with highest family importance value (FIV) in the herbaceous community in AABR

S. no

Family

Number of species in family

Density (individual m−2)

FIV

1.

Poaceae

8

70.72

54.5

2.

Fabaceae

6

6.08

27.4

3.

Acanthaceae

4

74.16

25.8

4.

Asteraceae

7

11.12

21.26

5.

Euphorbiaceae

3

11.92

15.9

6.

Verbenaceae

1

2.88

9.68

7.

Zingiberaceae

3

3.36

5.34

8.

Amaranthaceae

4

1.44

5.16

9.

Liliaceae

1

0.16

2.11

10

Apocynaceae

2

0.40

1.39

Discussion

The tropical ecosystem of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, India is unique in flora and fauna diversity which is severely affected due to rapid land use changes and tremendous industrial growth in last few decades. Sustainable management of these forests requires both qualitative and quantitative information in relation to structural and functional dynamics, which are meagerly understood. Therefore, the present study was conducted to understand the structure, composition, diversity and biomass of herbaceous vegetation in a dry tropical forest ecosystem of AABR. Interestingly, the structure and composition pattern of the present study was observed to be in accordance with studies conducted by previous workers (Murphy and Lugo 1986; Varghese and Menon 1998; Sundarapandian and Swamy 2000; Thakur et al. 2014; Naidu and Kumar 2016). Bijalwan (2010) reported 73–157 plants m2 herb density, 0.0003–0.028 m2 ha−1 basal area and 7–43 species in dry tropical forest of Chhattisgarh, India. Similarly, Pande (2005) studied the ecological status of vegetation in Satpura plateau, Madhya Pradesh; and found that the density varied between 15,905 and 102,078 herbs ha−1. Dense mixed forest had a higher density as compared to Sal mixed forest, Teak forest in the case of adult woody vegetation (dense mixed forest—328.4 individuals m−2, open mixed forest—233.6 individuals m−2, teak forest—137.2 individuals m−2), while Bamboo forest had lowest density (Bamboo forest—96.4 individuals m−2) among the forests. Cherednichenko and Borodulina (2018) revealed that the number of species varied from 9 to 65 per 100 m2 in Central Forest Reserve, NW Russia. The latter is so because Arthraxon hispidus (Poaceae), a grass species dominated herbaceous layer of different forests. In relation to basal area which is often perceived as an indicator of growth and biomass production (Murthy et al. 2016), Sal forest and Dense mixed forest had greater values as compared to Bamboo forest in AABR. With 66 herb species recorded in the study area, it was much more diverse than the herbaceous vegetation in the Dry deciduous forest in Barnowpara Wildlife Sanctuary of Chhattisgarh (Bijalwan 2010; Thakur et al. 2014). Gómez-Díaz et al. (2017) analyzed the species composition and diversity of herbaceous plants among different elevations and habitats. Of the 264 plant species recorded, 31 are endemic to Mexico. Gentry and Dodson (1987) found 176 species in the understory (height < 3 m) in a 0.1 ha plot in the tropical wet forest of Rio Palenque, Ecuador. Similarly, 121 herb species were reported in three 50 m2 plots in the tropical forests of Brunei (Poulsen and Pendry 1995). However, 99–229 herb species per hectare were recorded by Tchouto et al. (2006) in Cameroon, which is higher as compared to the present study. Lü et al. (2010) found 309 species under herbaceous layer which is higher than the overstory (207 species, DBH ≥ 10 cm), enumerated in the same plots.

The present study of diversity indices was compared with the different tropical forests of the World (Ravan 1994; Varghese and Menon 1998; Pande 2005; Bijalwan 2010; Lü et al. 2011; Thakur et al. 2014; Gómez-Díaz et al. 2017; Sullivan et al. 2017). The diversity of herbaceous layer was low in Bamboo forest, with the values being 2.18 (Shannon index), 16.69 (Riches index), and 0.83 (Equitability index) in the present study. Bamboo forest species diversity was recorded low because the litter content was very high. Leaf of bamboo release high content of silcaceous ingredient which prohibits the easy decomposing of litter that results in lesser species’ growth, only non-exacting species under concerned forest (Bahadur 1979). Bamboo brakes under-canopy was highly occupied by Rungia pictinata, a non-exacting species that grows mostly on rocky surface or hardy soil followed by Ocimum gratissium (light demander species) under open canopy of Bamboo brakes/forest. According to Lü et al. (2011), Shannon index values vary from 3.37 to 4.08 in the herb layer in the tropical seasonal rain forest of Xishuangbanna, SW China, and they suggested higher variation of species diversity in the herbaceous vegetation than sapling among the three plots. Sal mixed forest reports higher Shannon–Wiener index (H′ index) which is probably due to more species assemblage near water bodies and creeks. Minimum rainfall coupled with high temperature and poor soil conditions supported only few species in dry deciduous forest ecosystem in the study area. Therefore, the dry deciduous forests of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are floristically not as rich and diverse as compared to tropical evergreen forests of Western Ghats, India (Pascal 1992). Results reveal that the Shannon index values are higher than Simpson Index in various forest types. The beta diversity was found to be highest for Bamboo forests and lowest for Sal mixed forest, which shows higher rate of species turnover in former type compared to the later forest type. The higher beta diversity represents the higher niche diversification in Bamboo forests compared to Sal mixed, Open mixed forest and Dense mixed forests. Singh and Singh (1980) reported that the biomass production of herbs varied from 1.0 to 1.5% of the total forest biomass in a tropical dry deciduous forest and the shoot and root components accounted 66.67–75.81% and 24.19–33.33% respectively, for the total herb production by Thakur (2007) and similar results are found in current study. Alhamad et al. (2010) studied relationship among herbaceous biomass and species diversity in arid Mediterranean rangeland and observed biomass values varied from 103.3 to 188.9 g m−2. These data values were similar to the present investigation. Poaceae and Fabaceae plant family have been observed to be the top-most contributors to species diversity. Nevertheless, in the case of abundance, Acanthaceae and Asteraceae are the predominant plant families. Similar results were reported by Poulsen and Nielsen (1995) and Acanthaceae, Poaceae and Asteraceae have been suggested to be the predominant families of herbaceous layer in tropical rainforests (Richards 1996). We suspect this may result from the competition between ferns and other herbs. Structure, composition and diversity of understory vegetation of AABR revealed that the species of A. hispidus (Poaceae family) dominated in four forests types (viz. Sal mixed, Dense mixed, Open mixed and Teak forest) except Bamboo brakes/forest. A. hispidus was found near to creeks or water bodies (Nalas, bunds and gullies) and also were recorded growing around fresh water spring, dunes and shaded small gullies.

Conclusions

The five families namely Poaceae, Fabaceae, Acanthaceae, Asteraceae and Euphorbeaceae are the dominant ones with the highest FIVs in the herbaceous community. The same five families dominated in Dense mixed forest, Sal mixed forest and Open mixed forest, indicating that the herbs of these families contributed strongly to the richness and composition of these forests. Although the study reflects that dry tropical forests of AABR are not ecologically as rich as other dry tropical forests of the world. The herb/seedling layer (individuals with height < 1 m) may hold as many species as the tree layer (DBH ≥ 10 cm). All these findings suggest that the herbaceous layer is dominated by grass species and normally is excluded from biodiversity assessment, in tropical forests. In summary, this study has demonstrated that the herbaceous communities could contribute to high species richness of dry tropical forests. It has however been observed that the increasing human interferences are degrading these forests. The rotational grazing practices should be adopted in regenerating grasslands. Alternative land management for agriculture and silviculture should be adopted in marginal, degraded and agricultural lands, which are currently under-utilized. These strategies will help in understanding the biotic and abiotic pressures and will pave a way for restoring and conserving the fragile dry tropical forest ecosystems thus contributing significantly for environment sustainability.

Notes

Acknowledgements

I thankfully acknowledge the financial support provided by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Government of India, New Delhi, vide its File No. 13/4/2013-NNRMS/RE Dated January 18, 2016.

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© Society for Environmental Sustainability 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceIndira Gandhi National Tribal University (IGNTU)AmarkantakIndia

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