Plateaus and cliffs need to be conserved for endemic species

ST Correspondent
Thursday, 14 May 2020

Scientists at ARI have come up with plant data of the Northern Western Ghats which indicates that plateaus, in addition to the forests, should be prioritised for conservation of the region.

Pune: It is the plateaus and the cliffs that harbour most of the endemic species, thus increasing their importance in conservation plans, stated a study on flowering plants endemism in Northern Western Ghats by the scientists at Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune.

Scientists at ARI have come up with plant data of the Northern Western Ghats which indicates that plateaus, in addition to the forests, should be prioritised for conservation of the region. The ARI team led by Mandar Datar and Ritesh Kumar Choudhary has published a paper in the international journal Phytotaxa after investigating the Northern Western Ghats, and have come up with an updated checklist of 181 local endemic plant species, including four monospecific genera.

The research has shown that a majority of the endemic species are therophytes, which complete their life cycle in a short period during monsoon.

A notable geographical feature of the Northern Western Ghats, which is different from its southern and central counterparts, is the presence of plateaus and cliffs that display maximum endemic species, unlike forests. Many species harboured by the forests of the Northern Western Ghats are, in fact, not endemic.

Scientists at the ARI stated that the local endemism of the flowering plants in the area is not much explored. The study conducted by the team suggested that the Northern Western Ghats is the region of rapid diversification of specific herbaceous endemic genera like Ceropegia, Glyphochloa, Dipcadi, and Eriocaulon. Scientists have various estimates about the species that are endemic to the region, and the understanding of habitats, seasons, and plant distribution is limited.

Datar stated, “To project the Northern Western Ghats prominently on the world vegetation map, it is necessary to complete the threat status assessment if the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on priority, which is underrepresented for the region.” The team believes that the published data can be used as a proxy for conservation planning and effective protection measures of the Northern Western Ghats.

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