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Keywords: Natural Sciences
Plant (Botany)
Specific topic in natural history
Plants noted for Characteristics & flowers
Issue Date: 2015
Abstract: This dissertation communicates the results of scientific endeavour regarding the distribution pattern and conservation status of endemic plants of Pakistan distributed in Hazara region (about 20,000 Km2 area) of Northern Pakistan. The study provides a scientific database for developing conservation strategies for threatened endemic taxa of the area. The endemic taxa were determined through a survey of the available literature and herbarium specimens. Organized field surveys were performed during the years 2011-2014 for recording the ground realities and monitoring stations for the taxa conecerned. Actual and potential areas of the distribution of a taxa were thoroughly investigated and locations were georeferenced along the complete field data. Sample of each taxon was properly tagged, identified and preserved. The marked localities were repeatedly surveyed for monitoring fluctuations and decline in a population. Distribution patterns, ecological niche and potential habitats were analysed using Species Distribution Model, Maxent. Twenty Four topoclimatic variables including geology and land cover were used as predictor variables. Distribution of floral associates of endemic taxa were analysed using Twinspan and Nonmetric Detrended Scaling (NMDS). Statistical analyses of predicted habitat maps and floral associates were performed using statistical packages in R. Conservation status of the endemic taxa was determined following IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (2001, 2012) and guidelines for regional application. Habitat loss was estimated by analysing sixteen days MODIS time series images of thirteen years i.e. 2001-2013, using GIS program IDRISI Selva. Hot spots were identified by calculating the sum of all prediction maps using raster calculator in Arc GIS. Analyses of the generated data revealed that viii endemics were distributed among 28 families 51 genera and 71 species. Boraginaceae and Ranunculaceae were richest families each with 8 endemic taxa followed by Rosaceae (5), Apiaceae (4) and Gentianaceae (4). Genus Pseudomertensia was the largest genus having 8 endemic taxa. Dominant life form among endemics was hemicryptophyte (60) followed phenarphyte (8) and therophyte (2). Highest number were herbs (63) followed by shrubs (7) and trees (1). Maxent AUC range was lying within excellent range (0.92-0.98). Among topographic factors geology was proved to be highly influencial factor affecting the distribution of 39 taxa followed by elevation (28) and land cover (27). Among climatic factors, precipiation of the coldest months was highest dominating factor affecting 31 taxa followed by Mean Diurnal Range (26), mean temperature of the coldest months, temperature annual range (9) and precipitation seasonality (9). While analysing the distribtuon pattern along elevational gradient, highest endemic taxa were found between mid ranges (2000m and 3500m) and lower number was noted at extreme upper and lower ranges. Among the land cover types, highest number of endemics were found in dense temperate mixed forests and dense temperate coniferous forests while least number was found in temperate sparse coniferous forests and subtropical scrub forests and wetlands. With respect to administrative divisions, Mansehra District contained highest endemics followed by Batagram and Kohistan. Among geological classes highest taxa were distrbuted in Proterozoic metaclastic and metasedimentry rocks followed by Proterozoic Cambrian Quartizite and Mezozoic Metasedimentry rocks. Endemic associates were broadly classified into five communities i.e Oxalis-Adiantum-Cymbopogon community, Justicia-Acacia-Cymbopogon community, Trifolium-Pinus-Viburnum community, Valeriana-Salix-Abies community and Poa-Kobresia-Pseudonaphalium community. NDVI revealed that habitat loss was occurring at alaroming rate with 18.3% agricultural extenstion and reduction of forest at 14.7%. Conservation status of endemics revealed that large number of endemics were confined to small geographic ranges with few populations facing multiple threats. The IUCN criteria placed Androsace hazarica, Arabidopsis taraxacifolia, Bupleurum nigrescence, Microsisymbrium falccidum and Neottia inayattii were assigned in Extinct (EX) category, Artemisia amydalina as regionally extinct (RE), Thalictrum secundum ssp. hazaricum and Jasminum leptophyllum as Critically Endangered (CR) at global level and Meconopsis aculeata as Critically Endangered at regional level. Forty taxa got the status of Endangered and 15 were Vulnerable at regional level. Five of the locations were identified as endemic rich areas. It was concluded that endemics were habitat specific and were exposed to a number of threats. Protection of selected sites, restoration of species specific area, recovery of the threatened gene pools and rehabilitation of associated areas needs to be worked out for effective conservation of the endemic plants of the region.
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