HUSSAIN et al. 167
Tropical Ecology 49(2): 167-181, 2008 ISSN 0564-3295
© International Society for Tropical Ecology
Species composition and community structure of forest stands in
Kumaon Himalaya, Uttarakhand, India
M. SHAH HUSSAIN* #, AISHA SULTANA #, JAMAL A. KHAN & AFIFULLAH KHAN
Department of Wildlife Sciences, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh 202 002, India
Abstract: The paper describes species composition and community structure of 23 forest
stands in Kumaon Himalaya (28° 43' 55" to 30° 30' 12" N and 78° 44' 30" to 80° 45' E), between
altitudes 1500-3000 m. A total of 902 plots was sampled following plot sampling method.
Density and diversity measures were calculated for different vegetation layers of each stand.
TWINSPAN identified 19 tree communities and 17 ground vegetation communities. The
distribution of tree species on DCA axis 1 indicated influence of altitudinal gradient while the
second axis of DCA indicated canopy cover and shrub diversity. The first component of PCA
represented open to close canopy forest, while the second reflected increase in shrub density
and diversity. Quercus floribunda-Rhododendron arboreum group had maximum tree density
and Abies pindrow-Betula utilis the minimum. Myrsine africana was the dominant shrub
species. Maximum tree species diversity and richness were recorded for Daphiadhura site
whereas the Vinaiyak site expressed maximum shrub diversity. Pinus wallichiana, Betula
utilis, Tsuga demosa, etc. were found to be rare tree species.
Resumen: El artículo describe la composición de especies y la estructura de la
comunidad de 23 rodales de bosque en Kumaon Himalaya (28° 43' 55" a 30° 30' 12" N, y 78°
44' 30" a 80° 45' E), ubicadas entre las altitudes de 500-3000 m. En total se muestrearon 902
parcelas, utilizando el método de muestreo con área. Se calcularon medidas de densidad y
diversidad para las diferentes capas de vegetación de cada rodal. El análisis TWINSPAN
identificó 19 comunidades arbóreas y 17 comunidades del suelo del bosque. La distribución
de las especies arbóreas en el eje 1 del DCA indicó una influencia del gradiente altitudinal,
mientras que el segundo eje del DCA indicó la cobertura del dosel y la diversidad de
arbustos. El primer componente de un PCA representó bosque de dosel abierto a cerrado,
mientras que el segundo reflejó el incremento en la densidad de arbustos y su diversidad. El
grupo Quercus floribunda-Rhododendron arboreum tuvo la máxima densidad de árboles, y el
de Abies pindrow-Betula utilis, la mínima. Myrsine africana fue la especie de arbusto
dominante. Los valores máximos de diversidad y riqueza de especies arbóreas fueron
registrados en el sitio Daphiadhura, mientras que en el sitio Vinaiyak se expresó la máxima
diversidad de arbustos. Se encontró que Pinus wallichiana, Betula utilis y Tsuga demosa,
entre otras, fueron especies raras.
Resumo: O artigo descreve a composição e a estrutura de comunidade de 23 parcelas
florestais em Kumaon Himalaia (28° 43' 55" to 30° 30' 12" N e 78° 44' 30" to 80° 45' E), entre as
altitudes de 1500-3000 m. Um total de 902 parcelas foram amostradas seguindo o método de
amostragem de quadrados. As medidas da densidade e diversidade foram calculadas para
diferentes andares de vegetação em cada parcela. A análise TWINSPAN identificou 19
* Corresponding Author; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
#Present Address: Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems, School of Environmental Studies,
University of Delhi, Delhi 110007, India
168 FOREST STRUCTURE IN KUMAON HIMALAYA
comunidades arbóreas e 17 comunidades de vegetação rasteira. A distribuição das espécies
arbóreas no eixo DCA indicam a covertura pelo copado e a diversidade dos arbustos. A primeira
componente do ACP representou florestas com copado aberto a fechado, enquanto a segunda
reflectiu o aumento na densidade e diversidade dos arbustos. O grupo Quercus floribunda-
Rhododendron arboreum apresentou a densidade arbórea máxima e o Abies pindrow-Betula
utilis o mínimo. A Myrsine africana foi a espécie arbustiva dominante. A diversidade arbórea
máxima e riqueza foi registada para a estação Daphiadhura enquanto a estação Vinaiyak
expressou a diversidade arbustiva máxima. Encontrou-se que a Pinus wallichiana, Betula
utilis, Tsuga demosa, etc. eram espécies arbóreas raras.
Key words: Forest conservation, Himalaya, Himalayan forests, India, ordination,
rare species, vegetation community.
Himalaya, the youngest mountain system of
the world, constitutes an important link between
the vegetation of the southern peninsular India
on the one hand, the eastern Malaysian, the
north-eastern Sino-Japanese and the northern
Tibetan areas on the other (Puri et al. 1983).
Several studies have described the vegetation of
Kumaon (Dhar et al. 1997; Rikhari et al. 1989a;
Singh et al. 1984; Singh & Singh 1984; Singh &
Singh 1987; Singh et al. 1987; Tiwari & Singh
1985; Upreti et al. 1985) and Garhwal Himalaya
(Anthwal et al. 2006; Kumar & Bhatt 2006;
Nautiyal et al. 2004). Some of the studies
described altitudinal variation in vegetation
(Adhikari et al. 1992; Saxena et al. 1985) and
reported that vegetation types differ with change
in altitude. However, Puri et al. (1983) observed
that geology and soils may exercise a far greater
influence on the distribution of vegetation types
than the altitude or climate.
Some pioneering contributions on
phytosociology (Ralhan et al. 1982; Saxena &
Singh 1982) and population structure (Saxena et
al. 1985; Singh et al. 1987) of certain central
Himalayan forest types have already been
reported. The main objectives of this paper are: (i)
to describe structural attributes (density, species
diversity and richness) of tree, shrub and ground
layers; (ii) to identify predominating communities
of trees and ground vegetation, and plant species
of special concern, and to further identify the
localities having rare plant communities needing
Materials and methods
The study was conducted in 23 forest stands
including Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary (BWS) and
Askot Wildlife Sanctuary (AWS), in five districts;
Almora, Bageshwer, Champawat, Naini Tal and
Pithoragarh of Kumaon Himalaya (28° 43' 55" to
30° 30' 12" N latitude and 78° 44' 30" to 80° 45' E
longitude) covering an area of 21,032 km² in the
Uttarakhand state of India (Fig. 1, Table 1).
Kumaon Himalaya is altitudinally divisible into
subtropical (300 to 1500 m), temperate (1500 to
3500 m) and alpine (>3500 m) zones (Saxena et al.
1985). Annual rainfall peaks at about 1200 m
altitude (4100 mm) and gradually declines to 670
mm at 2700 m (Saxena et al. 1985).
Overall 902 sampling plots were laid in the 23
forest stands (details in Table 1). Vegetation was
sampled along existing forest trails which passed
through all the major habitat types to permit
sampling of different habitats in equal proportion
at each site. In each stand, sampling plots were 50
m apart, and each was laid at a distance of 10 m
from the edge of the trail on either side to avoid
sampling of the relatively disturbed vegetation.
Number of plots sampled in different stands is
given in Table 1.
At each sampling plot, a 10 m radius circular
plot (Dombois & Ellenberg 1974) was established.
Trees > 4 m height were considered mature trees.
Species and their individuals were recorded for the
estimation of density, species diversity and species
richness. Shrub layer was quantified in 3 m radius
circular plots whereas ground vegetation (herbs
and grasses) was estimated in 0.5 m x 0.5 m
quadrats at four places within the 10 m radius
sampling plot. Tree cover was measured at 5 m
HUSSAIN et al. 169
Fig 1. Location of 23 surveyed forest stands in Kumaon Himalaya.
distance from the sampling point in four different
directions using gridded mirror of 25.4 x 25.4 cm
(10 x 10 inch) dimension, divided into 25 equal
grids. Grids covered with > 50% foliage were
counted and expressed in terms of percent tree
cover (Dombois & Ellenberg 1974).
170 FOREST STRUCTURE IN KUMAON HIMALAYA
Density and diversity estimates
Density of trees, shrubs and ground vegetation
was calculated following Greig - Smith (1983). The
diversity values for each layer (tree, shrub and
ground vegetation) were calculated using Shannon
- Wiener’s diversity index following Magurran
(1988). The species richness was calculated using
Margelef’s species richness index (Magurran
1988). One-way ANOVA (Zar 1984) was used to
detect significant differences in density, diversity
and richness for the vegetation layers in all the
surveyed forest stands.
Classification and ordination of species and
The vegetation was classified on the basis of
tree species and dominant ground vegetation
(shrub and herb species) using TWINSPAN (Twoway
indicator species analysis) computer program
(Hill 1979 a). Same data matrix was used for
ordination of tree species as well as sites (forest
stands) through Detrended Correspondence
Analysis (DCA) in computer program DECORANA
(Hill 1979 b). The vegetation attributes (density,
diversity and richness) of the 23 sites along with
altitude, number of stumps, lopped trees and cattle
dung were subjected to Principal Component
Stepwise multiple regression was used to
obtain correlation between the DCA axes, and
measured environmental and vegetation
attributes. All data matrices were standardized
following Zar (1984) to achieve normality and
A rarity index was generated to identify rare
tree species of Kumaon. For this purpose two
parameters were taken into account-
a) Qualitative proportion of each tree species in
Table 1. Location details and distribution of sampling plots in different forest stands of Kumaon
Himalaya. RF = Reserve forest, POF = Privately owned forest, WLS = Wildlife sanctuary, CF =
Community forest, Alt. = Altitude, m = meter, asl = above sea level, BWS = Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Forest stand District Status Sampling
Kilbery Naini Tal RF 40 2085- 2240 29°25'24.3"N 79°2.6'24.3"E
Vinaiyak Naini Tal RF 40 2130- 2290 29°27'45.4"N 79°24'31.8"E
Kunjakharak Naini Tal RF 45 2040- 2430 29°39'N 79°18'58.1"E
Maheshkhan Naini Tal RF 40 1820- 2090 29°24'16.2"N 79°33'50.6"E
Gager Naini Tal RF 40 1860- 2220 29°25'11.4"N 79°30'31.9"E
Mukteshwer Naini Tal RF 49 1800- 2260 29°28'34.1"N 79°38'28.1"E
Jilling Naini Tal POF 20 1860- 2010 29°22'1.6"N 79°37'E
BWS Bageshwer WLS 75 1990- 2260 29°42'3.2"N 79°45'E
Pandavkholi Almora CF 40 2460- 2590 29°48'19.5"N 79°27'E
Sitlakhet Almora RF 15 1880- 1980 29°42'3.2"N 79°45'E
Jageshwer Almora RF 26 2060- 2200 29°39'3.2"N 79°50'52.5"E
Gasi Bageshwer RF 40 2140- 2370 30°04'48.4"N 80°E
Dhakuri Bageshwer RF 55 2470- 2825 30°13'19.5"N 79°55'26.3"E
Wachham Bageshwer RF 50 2410- 2935 30°07'25"N 79°54'37.5"E
Sunderdunga Bageshwer RF 36 2560- 2780 30°13'30.3"N 79°54'18.5"E
Pindari Bageshwer CF 39 2200- 2960 30°11'11.3"N 79°59'30"E
Daphiadhura Pithoragarh WLS 40 2020- 2440 29°54'N 80°20'E
Majtham Pithoragarh WLS 40 1595- 2250 29°53'N 80°22'E
Gandhura Pithoragarh WLS 50 1710- 2045 29°51'40"N 80°14'16.9"E
Sobala Pithoragarh WLS 40 2190- 2650 30°04'16.2"N 80°34'15"E
Duku Pithoragarh WLS 48 1930- 2530 29°56.3'N 80°30'E
Munsiary Pithoragarh RF 25 2655- 2770 30°05'3.2"N 80°14'41.3"E
Mechh Champawat CF 10 1810- 1830 29°16'16.2"N 80°12'18.8"E
(PQA) = Number of stands the concerned tree
species was encountered/total number of stands (23)
b) Quantitative proportion of each tree species in
HUSSAIN et al. 171
(PQI) = Number of individuals of each tree
species / number of individuals of all tree species
where the concerned species was encountered
Rarity index for each tree species = PQA + PQI
Fig. 2. TWINSPAN classification of (a) 63 species into 19 groups based
on the tree species data of Kumaon Himalaya, and (b) classification of 23
surveyed forest stands into 8 groups.
172 FOREST STRUCTURE IN KUMAON HIMALAYA
Tree species classification
Nineteen broad communities have been
recognised in Kumaon. Overall, 63 tree, 56 shrub,
90 herb and 21 grass species were recorded in the
23 forest stands. A total of five homogenous groups
of tree species, in relation to the environmental
variables, was identified through TWINSPAN
analysis (Fig. 2). The left arm of the first dichotomy
contained 25 species, which was further divided into
two groups. First negative group consisted of four
species which were characteristic of site 8 (for site
code see Fig 1). Second positive group also consisted
of two homogenous groups. The first group
contained Quercus semecarpifolia as a dominant
species at sites 12, 13 and 17. The second group
consisted of Abies pindrow and Taxus baccata as
dominant species and represented mixed coniferous
habitat. Further subdivisions did not provide any
additional ecological information. The right arm of
the first dichotomy had 38 tree species, which were
further divided into two groups. First negative
group contained 21 species. These tree species were
mainly encountered at sites 2, 4, 5, 7, 18, 19 and 23.
At site 2, Q. leucotricophora, Pinus wallichiana and
Cedrus deodara were the dominant tree species
while at site 23 the dominant species was Q.
lanuginosa (Table 2).
Tree species ordination
DCA ordination successfully handled the
variation in tree species communities from low to
high altitude. All the sites and tree species showed
meaningful distribution on axis 1 and axis 2 of
DCA (Fig. 3 a). The first axis (eigen value = 0.389)
represents an altitude gradient (low to high). Sites
14, 15, 16, 20, 21, and 22 occupied extreme end of
the first axis and represented TWINSPAN group 3
(A. pindrow, T. baccata, Betula utilis, Tsuga
Table 2. Communities and their characteristic tree species with their codes (in parentheses used in
DECORANA computer program) in Kumaon based on TWINSPAN classification. Comm. = Community.
Groups Comm. Forest stand Tree species
1 1 BWS Acer caesium (20), Aesculus indica (23), Swida sp.(42),
Betula alnoides (44)
2 2 Daphiadura Gasi, Quercus semecarpifolia (4), Toona serrata (14),
Dodecademia grandiflora (37),
Dhakuri Symplocos sp. (50)
3 3, 4, 5, 6 Pindari, Sobala, Duku
4 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 Vinaiyak, Maheshkhan,
Gager, Jilling, Majtham,
5 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 Mukteshwer, Kilbery,
Abies pindrow (15), Jugulans regia (34), Prunus cerasoides
(63), Betula utilis (28) Rhododendron barbatum (7), Taxus
baccata (16), Tsuga demosa (35), Pyrus vestita (52),
Zanthoxylum armatum (58), Ficus palmata (46), Morus
serrata (47), Symplocos chinensis (51), Prunus cornuta (60),
Debregeasia hypoleuca (59), Acer cappadocicum (53),
Fraxinus sp. (48), Dendroephthoe falcate (43)
Cedrus deodara (17), Cupressus torulosa (25), Cassia fistula
(62), Quercus lanuginose (5), Engelhardia spicata (36),
Ficus auriculata (41), Daphnephyllum himalense (38),
Quercus glauca (3), Pinus roxburghii (19), Myrica esculenta
(24), Maytenus rufa (54), Benthamidia capitata (39),
Phoenix humilis (61), Castanopsis tribuloides (40), Quercus
leucotricophora (1), Pyrus pashia (13), Pinus wallichiana
(18), Euonymus tingens (10), Swida oblonga (27),
Macaranga pustulata (33), Picea smithiana (45)
Litsea umbrosa (30), Populus ciliate (49), Persea duthiei (9),
Rhododendron arboreum (6), Alnus nepalensis (21),
Viburnum mullaha (22), Ilex dipyrena (26), Stranvissia
nausea (57), Meliosma dillenaeafolia (29), Rhamnus
triqueter (56), Quercus floribunda (2), Fraxinus micrantha
(32), Symplocos theifolia (12), Lindera pulcherrima (31),
Lyonia ovalifolia (8), Euonymus pendulus (11), Viburnum
demosa etc.), while the low altitude sites 4, 10, 18
and 23 represented TWINSPAN groups 4 & 5 (P.
roxburghii, Q. leucotricophora, Pyrus pashia, Q.
The second axis (eigen value = 0.254) appeared
to reflect the canopy cover from open to close. The
species associated with open canopy were Q.
glauca, Q. lanuginosa, Cassia fistula,
Zanthoxylum armatum, Q. semecarpifolia and the
representative sites were 13, 14, 18, 19 and 23,
while close canopy areas were Gasi, Sobala, Duku
HUSSAIN et al. 173
and Pandavkholi and the associated tree species
were Q. semecarpifolia, Toona serrata, Symplocos
theifolia (Fig. 3 b). These interpretations are
largely confirmed by the results of PCA. The PC 1
explained 44.26% variance and represented a
gradient of open to close canopy forest with tree
density and diversity in increasing order. PC 2
explained 18.26% of variance and reflected an
increasing pattern in shrub density and diversity.
The distribution of species and sites was same on
the two axes of PCA as on DCA axes (Fig. 3 c).
Fig 3. (a) DCA ordination of tree species of Kumaon Himalaya on two axes extracted by DECORANA
computer program. Numbers refer to different species, (b) DCA ordination of 23 surveyed forest stands on
two axes. DCA axis 1 is related to altitude and slope. DCA axis 2 is related to canopy cover. Numbers
refer to different sites, and (c) PCA ordination of surveyed forest stands on two extracted components. PC
1 is related to canopy cover and diversity of trees. PC 2 is related to the abundance of grasses and shrubs.
Numbers refer to various sites.
174 FOREST STRUCTURE IN KUMAON HIMALAYA
Table 3. Multiple regression analysis of Axis 1 and Axis 2 of DCA with vegetation attributes.
Combination of Variables Relationship R²
Axis 1 Altitude + 0.535**
Altitude & Slope + 0.655**
Axis 2 Shrub diversity + 0.32*
Shrub diversity, Grass richness + 0.544**
Shrub diversity, Grass richness, Canopy cover + 0.635**
Shrub diversity, Grass richness, Canopy cover, Shrub density + 0.714**
* p < 0.05, ** p
communities formed in the left armed dichotomy
were Desmodium gangeticum, Pyracantha
crenulata and Rubus biflorus. These communities
were found at different sites (Fig. 4 b & Table 4)).
The right arm of dichotomy comprised 15 species,
which were further divided into one and 14 species
(Fig. 4 a). Five homogenous groups were combined
to form two communities.
Tree density (ha -1 ) was significantly different
at all sites (F22, 879 = 14.13 , p = 0.00). It was high
at site 12 (995 ha -1) and site 5 (915 ha -1) compared
to the rest of the forest stands. Tree species
diversity and richness also varied significantly
between the sites (F22, 879 = 15.47, p = 0.00 and
F22, 879 = 13.61, p = 0.00, respectively) (Table 5).
Maximum tree diversity and richness were found
at site 17 (1.53 and 1.76 respectively) in Askot
Wildlife Sanctuary. Shrub density (ha -1 ) was also
significantly different among the forest stands
(F22, 879 = 24.04, p = 0.00) and it was highest at site
6 (28158 ha -1 ) while lowest at site 23 (6852 ha -1 ).
Shrub diversity (F22, 879 = 16.21, p = 0.00) and
richness (F22, 879 = 16.37, p = 0.00) also differed
significantly between the sites (Table 5). Diversity
was highest at site 2 while richness was high at
HUSSAIN et al. 175
site 6 (1.48).
Although significant differences in tree density
did not occur at group level, the maximum tree
density was recorded for Q. floribunda -
Rhododendron arboreum group and the minimum
for A. pindrow - B. utilis group. Shrub density was
also not significantly different among groups but it
was maximum for Q. floribunda - R. arboreum and
minimum for Q. semecarpifolia - T. serrata group
Taking all sites together the tree layer was
dominated by Q. floribunda (181 trees ha -1 ) followed
by R. arboreum (175 ha -1), Q. lanuginosa (167 ha -1)
and A. pindrow (151 ha -1) (Table 7). Myrsine
africana (6521 plants ha -1) was the dominant shrub
species in the Kumaon followed by Nerium sp. (3671
ha -1) and Athyrium sp. (3055 ha -1) (Table 7).
Species of special conservation concern
Using the individuals of tree species sampled
in all the 23 forest stands, the generated rarity
index value ranged from 0.03 to 0.40. The tree
species having rarity index value 0.03-0.20 were
considered rare. B. utilis (0.03), Tsuga demosa
(0.06), Q. glauca (0.06), P. wallichiana (0.09),
Taxus baccata (0.12), Cupressus torulosa (0.15),
Picea smithiana (0.16), A. pindrow (0.16) and C.
Table 4. Vegetation communities and their characteristic ground species in Kumaon Himalaya based
on TWINSPAN classification. BWS = Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary.
Groups Comm. Forest stand Tree species
1 1, 2, 3 Pandavkholi, Jageshwer,
2 4,5,6,7 Dhaphiadhura, Majtham,
Gandhura, Sobala, Duku,
3 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 Kilbery, Vinaiyak, Gager,
Desmodium elegans, Gaultheria nummulanoides, Mahonia
sp., Valeriana wallichii, Origanum vulgare, Boehmenia
rugulosa, Polygonum recumbens
Cotoneaster acuminata, Asparagus racemosus, Adiantum
venustum, Pyracantha crenulata, Pteris biaurita, Myrsine
africana, Rubus peniculata, Desmodium gangeticum
Wikstroemia canescens, Nerium sp., Daphne papyracea,
Athyrium sp, Rubus biflorous, Berberis aristata,
Boeninghausienia albiflora, Polystichum sp, Thalictrium
foliolosum, Pteridium sp., Indigofera heterantha, Randia
tetrasperma, Arundinella nepalensis, Hypericum
oblongifolium, Rubus ellipticus, Rhamnus virgatus,
Bistorta amplexicaulis, Hedychium spicatum
4 13, 14 BWS, Mechh Cratagus sp., Urtica dioca, Arisaema flavam, Geranium
wallichianum, Argemone maxicana
5 15, 16, 17 Wachham, Sunderdunga,
Euphorbia prolifera, Skimmia laureola, Thamnocalamus
spathiflorus, Berginia legulata, Leptodermis kumaonensis,
Circium wallichii, Deutzia staminea, Aechmanthera
gossypina, Trachelospermum lucidum, Polystichum
176 FOREST STRUCTURE IN KUMAON HIMALAYA
deodara (0.17) were found to be rare tree species in
Kumaon. Except for Q. glauca, most of the abovementioned
rare tree species were found in Pindari
HUSSAIN et al. 177
region. P. wallichiana, C. torulosa, P. smithiana
and B. utilis were also found in Vinaiyak reserve
Table 6. Tree species density (TDEN ha -1, S.E.) along with tree species diversity (TDIV), tree species
richness (TRIC), shrub density (SDEN ha -1, S.E.), shrub diversity (SDIV) and shrub richness (SRIC) in
five homogenous groups of 19 tree communities of Kumaon Himalaya based on TWINSPAN classification
(S.E. refers to standard error).
Homogenous group TDEN± S.E. SDEN± S.E TDIV TRIC SDIV SRIC
Aesculus indica- Betula alnoides 744 ± 416 14402 ±10490 1.3 1.4 1.1 1.1
Quercus semecarpifolia- Toona serrata 704 ± 203 6915 ± 431 1.2 1.3 0.9 0.8
Abies pindrow- Betula utilis 493 ± 37 10263 ± 799 1.0 1.0 0.8 0.7
Quercus leucotricophora- Pyrus pashia 667 ± 68 14580 ± 2719 1.3 1.3 1.1 1.1
Quercus floribunda-Rhodendron arboreum 714 ± 70 16835 ± 2863 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.2
Table 7. Mean values of density (ha -1) of major tree and shrub species of surveyed forest stands of
Kumaon Himalaya (S.E. refers to standard error).
Tree species Density S.E. Shrub species Density S.E.
Quercus leucotricophora 139 93 Argemone maxicana 2064 1918
Quercus floribunda 181 102 Arundinella nepalensis 2954 1400
Quercus glauca 59 47 Athyrium sp. 3055 1595
Quercus semecarpifolia 108 46 Berberis aristata 985 319
Quercus lanuginosa 167 71 Euphorbia prolifera 1862 1232
Rhododendron arboreum 175 75 Cratagus sp. 1492 281
Lyonia ovalifolia 114 55 Daphne papyracea 1809 1190
Persia duthiei 110 93 Desmodium gangeticum 2021 1252
Euonymus tingens 70 38 Indigofera heterantha 1667 959
Symplocos theifolia 130 107 Mahonia sp. 554 205
Pyrus pashia 50 18 Myrsine africana 6521 4760
Toona serrata 52 24 Nerium sp. 3671 2656
Abies pindrow 151 97 Polystichum sp. 1527 631
Taxus baccata 151 97 Pteridium sp. 2190 1687
Cedrus deodara 110 77 Pteris sp. 3047 1391
Pinus wallichiana 92 60 Pyracantha crenulata 813 357
Pinus roxburghii 81 44 Rubus biflorus 1618 759
Acer caesium 76 35 Rubus ellipticus 1955 136
Alnus nepalensis 56 27 Urtica dioca 5017 7525
Viburnum mullaha 82 41
Aesculus indica 47 19
Myrica esculenta 86 33
Cupressus torulosa 112 37
Ilex dipyrena 70 37
Swida oblonga 68 28
Betula utilis 85 37
Litsea umbrosa 92 53
Lindera pulcherrima 118 65
Jugulans regia 70 22
Tsuga demosa 94 25
Swida sp. 110 91
178 FOREST STRUCTURE IN KUMAON HIMALAYA
Various phytosociological techniques are
employed to study forest communities and their
relationships (Noy-Meir & Austin 1970; Whittaker
& Gauch 1973). We applied TWINSPAN, DCA and
PCA ordination techniques to analyse the
distribution of forest vegetation in Kumaon
Himalaya with satisfactory results. A somewhat
similar approach was used by Adhikari et al.
(1992) and Rihkari et al. (1989b) but their study
was confined to a small area of Kumaon.
The polythetic divisive classification divides
sites into groups on the basis of all the species
information. In our study this division was made
on the basis of species composition for the entire
sites. As suggested by Margules (1986),
representativeness should be used as the first
stage in selecting nature reserves. By classifying
sites into groups with different species
composition, one can ensure that all the major
groups are represented in the selection.
Tree species density was significantly different
among the present sites. It was substantially high
at Gasi and Gager. In this study, tree density at
Gager was higher than that estimated by Rikhari
et al. (1989 a). The diversity index values for all
the sites in the present study were higher than
what has been reported by Rikhari et al. (1989a),
Saxena & Singh (1982) and Singh & Singh (1984)
for forests in different localities of Kumaon
Himalaya. P. roxburghii and Q. semecarpifolia are
typical west Himalayan elements and are poorly
represented in Nepal and further east (Ohsawa et
al. 1986). Two other Oak forests (Q.
leucotricophora and Q. floribunda) are widely
distributed in the west with higher concentration
in the central Himalaya (Singh & Singh 1986).
Both these forests were distributed in most of the
surveyed sites except at higher elevation. A.
pindrow, T. baccata and B. utilis form sub-alpine
forest throughout the Himalaya (Dhar et al. 1997).
A. pindrow community dominated in some of the
stands at AWS, Pindari, Wachham, Sunderdunga
and Munsiary. Tree density and diversity and
shrub density and diversity were low in A. pindrow
– B. utilis group as diversity and richness decrease
at higher elevations (Rawal & Pangtey 1994; Singh
et al. 1994). Similar results are reported from
other areas also (Brithers & Spingarn 1992; Knops
et al. 1995). Q. semecarpifolia forest was
represented at Daphiadhura, Gasi and Dhakuri.
Tree diversity range (0.72 - 1.53) was similar as
recorded by Dhar et al. (1997) for Q. semecarpifolia
forest in AWS (1.41) but shrub diversity range (0.6
- 1.1) reported by them was lower than what has
been reported here (1.36).
In our study, Q. leucotricophora forest
represented the elevation range 1800 - 2300 m
(1200 - 2300 m by Singh & Singh 1986; 1700 - 2100
m by Singh et al. 1994), while Q. semecarpifolia
forest was present between 2200 - 3000 m altitude
range (2400 - 3600 m by Singh & Singh 1986; 2366
- 3000 m by Singh et al. 1994). The Shannon-
Wiener (H') diversity values were also similar to
those reported by others (Singh et al. 1994). These
values were also similar to those reported for
temperate communities in adjacent Nepal
Himalaya (Ohsawa et al. 1975) and elsewhere
As reported by Dhar et al. (1997), > 50%
species of this region are non-native species. The
area has received plant elements from adjoining
regions of tropical Asia (Indo-China and Indo-
Malaya, Mani 1974) and Indo-Gangetic plains
(Spate 1957). The distribution of non-native
species is known from the Himalaya (Maheswari
1962). The change in native flora because of nonnative
species could lead to long-term change in
ecosystem processes (Ramkrishnan & Vitousek
Some species such as Alnus nepalensis is fast
growing. Ohsawa (1991) considered it a ‘habitat
pioneer’ species, as it can occupy the newly formed
habitats. Similarly, the expanding P. roxburghii
poses serious threat to native Oak (Q.
leucotricophora and Q. floribunda) in whole of the
Kumaon, as it has been reported earlier also
(Singh & Singh 1987). The ecological nature of P.
roxburghii does not allow other broad-leaf species
to replace it, and P. roxburghii will continue to
hold a site indefinitely once it occupies it. (Singh et
al. 1984). All Oak species are facing severe threats
because of the demand for fodder and fire-wood.
This leads to reduction in seed production (Saxena
& Singh 1984). Other valuable tree species such as
A. pindrow, T. baccata, T. demosa and C. deodara
are felled because of their timber value. A.
pindrow community was mainly represented in
Pindari but A. pindrow and C. deodara had a good
population size also in Vinaiyak reserve forest.
Protection of this community is necessary.
Numerical methods make no claim to being
objective, as the very choice of method is a
subjective decision (Birks 1987). However, the
main advantage of using numerical methods in
evaluating representativeness was that they
summarized information about the range in
variation in species composition found in whole of
the Kumaon Himalaya in an effective and
meaningful way. All plant species of special
conservation concern were found in Pindari and
Vinaiyak reserve forest. Both of these forests are
facing severe threats (Hussain et al. 2000) so
immediate action is required for conserving
important floral communities of these areas.
Overall 63 tree, 56 shrub, 90 herb and 21 grass
species were recorded in the 23 forest stands of
Kumaon Himalaya. The distribution of the tree
communities in these forest stands was governed
mainly by the gradients of altitude, slope and
Some tree species such as B. utilis, Tsuga
demosa, Taxus baccata, C. deodara were recorded
rare. These species and their communities should
be protected in whole of Kumaon Himalaya. All
the plant communities as well as their associated
biodiversity are, in general, threatened and in
order to protect the whole range of biodiversity,
these plant communities need to be conserved.
Authors are thankful to the Ministry of
Environment & Forests, Govt. of India, for funding
the present study. We are grateful to Chief
Wildlife Wardens (Uttar Pradesh) Mr. Ashok
Kumar Singh and Dr. R.L. Singh for giving
permission to carry out fieldwork in Kumaon
Himalaya. We also thank Prof. Wazahat Hussain,
Department of Botany, AMU, Aligarh, for
reviewing the manuscript and providing valuable
suggestions. We are thankful to reviewers for
giving valuable suggestions. Thanks are also due
to Dr. S.S. Samant, G. B. Pant Institute of
Himalayan Environment and Development,
Almora (Uttarakhand) for identifying plant
species. We also thank Ms. Huma Waseem for
proof reading of the manuscript.
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