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Floristic And Structural Analysis of Protected and Natural Ecosystems
The present investigation was envisaged to study the structural parameters and plant diversity of the protected and natural ecosystems of Attappady by the quantitative analysis of plant communities to provide information on the diversity status and factors responsible for degradation process. Structural features of the various plant communities of Attappady hills were studied by quadrates of 20 X 20 m size determined using species area curve method and were established in a minimum distance of 200 m along the transect made in each community. The numerical data obtained was analyzed for obtaining various diversity indices. Of the various ecosystems under protected and natural areas of Attappady, 3 randomly chosen areas namely plantations, biomass and natural forests were studied and the structural analysis of vegetation was carried out. Floristic analysis of Mulli plantation indicated the occurrence of a total 44 tree species belonging to 19 families. The vegetation analysis revealed that Albizia amara and Erythroxylum monogynum were the two natural species established well in this low rainfall habitat as indicated by their highest Importance Value Index (IVI) values. Vertical distribution of various tree species showed that there are 15 trees which are stratified in three strata in which top canopy was occupied by Albizia amara, Leucaena leucocephala, Chloroxylon swietenia and Erythroxylum monogynum. Cheerakadavu biomass depicted species characteristics of a southern tropical dry deciduous forest indicating the occurrence of a total 40 tree species belonging to 21 families. Vegetation analysis revealed that though Tarenna asiatica represented maximum density and frequency, Ficus religiosa recorded highest IVI due to highest basal area. This biomass area was represented by 16 tree species wherein the upper storey was constituted mainly by Gevotia moluccana and Anogeissus latifolia. Floristic analysis of Muthikulam natural forest indicated the occurrence of a total 42 tree species belonging to 25 families. IVI was maximum for Cullenia exarillata. Vateria macrocarpa is a rare and endemic species, which is naturally present only in the Muthikkulam forest in the whole world. Natural forests show stratification with 25-tree species, arranged in four strata. The top canopy was occupied mainly by Vateria macrocarpa and Cullenia exarillata.Thus it has been found that plantations respond positively to the protection. However, soil erosion triggered degradation process. Gap filling with most promising species like Albizia amara and Erythroxylum monogynum may be undertaken urgently. The density of various species was relatively less in Biomass areas where severe infestation of weeds affected the natural regeneration of principal species. In the case of natural forests, degradation initiated in the adjoining areas of Siruvani dam.
Attappady, Floristic Analysis, IVI, Stratification, Vateria macrocarpa
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