Vol17 No.8: 1974-1988
【Title】Assessment of alpine summit flora in Kashmir Himalaya and its implications for long-term monitoring of climate change impacts
【Author】Maroof HAMID1*; Anzar Ahmad KHUROO1; Akhtar Hussain MALIK1; Rameez AHMAD1; Chandra Prakash SINGH2
【Addresses】1 Centre for Biodiversity & Taxonomy, Department of Botany, University of Kashmir, Srinagar – 190006, J & K, India; 2 Space Applications Centre, Indian Space Research Organization, Ahmedabad – 380015, India
【Corresponding author】Maroof HAMID
【Citation】Hamid M, Khuroo AA, Malik AH, et al. (2020) Assessment of alpine summit flora in Kashmir Himalaya and its implications for long-term monitoring of climate change impacts. Journal of Mountain Science 17(8). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11629-019-5924-7
【Abstract】In an era of climate change, the availability of empirical data on alpine summit vegetation in the Himalaya is still scarce. Here we report the assessment of alpine summit flora in Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary, Kashmir Himalaya. We employed a globally standardized Multi-Summit Approach and four spatially isolated summits spanning an elevation gradient of 210 m (between 3530-3740 m a.s.l.) from natural treeline to nival zone were studied. Sampling of the summits was carried out in the year 2018 to collect floristic data together with records of soil temperature. A total of 142 vascular plant species were recorded in the sampled summits. Majority of the species were of herbaceous growth form and with perennial life span. Based on Raunkiaer’s life form, hemicryptophytes were the most dominant followed by therophytes and phanerophytes. The summit flora showed the predominance of narrow-endemic species, with broad- and non-endemics declining with elevation. A significant relationship between growth form, Raunkiaer’s life form, and the degree of endemism with elevation was observed. Both species diversity and soil temperature showed a monotonic decrease with increasing elevation. Interestingly, soil temperature clearly determined the magnitude of species diversity on the summits. Furthermore, based on floristic composition, the lowest summit had the highest dissimilarity with the rest of the summits. The present study employed globally standardized protocol to scientifically assess the patterns of plant diversity on the alpine mountain summits of Kashmir Himalaya, which in turn has wide implications towards long-term monitoring of climate change impact on alpine biodiversity in the rapidly warming Himalaya.
【Keywords】Alpine ecosystem; Elevation gradient; Endemism; Himalaya; Mountain summits