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Title: Developing Strategies to Predict Climate Change Impacts on Selected Medicinal Plants, their Vulnerability and Adaptation
Authors: Karimi, Saira
Keywords: Biological & Medical Sciences
Bio Sciences
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: COMSATS University, Islamabad
Abstract: Developing Strategies to Predict Climate ChangeImpacts on Selected Medicinal Plants, their Vulnerability and Adaptation Investigating the effects of global warming on grassland ecosystems and individual medicinal plant species of Hindukush-Karakoram-Himalaya (HKKH) is of great significance to incorporate these responses into policy development. Anthropogenic climate change has exerted degenerative impacts on the natural reservoirs of these pharmacological plants. The purpose of this study was to predict the future responses of these therapeutic plants by identifying the climate change impacts on their growth and development and how these changes will affect the wellbeing of people depending on these natural resources. Indigenous knowledge is precarious to consider for the success of nature based solutions to climate change. Recognizing and incorporating the indigenous knowledge with the evidence of current climate shocks and tremors will help to mitigate the impacts of climate changes and the knowledge system. Indigenous zones are critical carbon sinks and provide habitat for biodiversity conservation. Having twin vulnerability, indigenous people had long histories of co-existing with their changing territories. Often considered the population at risk these communities have high exposure to environmental change. Therefore, the local perceptions about climate change impacts were the first strategy to the prediction analysis of the region. The association between perceptions regarding climate change and selected socio-demographic variables has been examined to illustrate how interconnected roles of place (elevation), age, knowledge (education), and gender help indigenous people to cope with environmental change. For developing the perceptions, a relationship with the place is mandatory because it can provide the basis for the identity, belief system, and daily life practices, that inspire the exercises through which any change is observed, experienced, adapted, or resisted, and responded to. Therefore, climate and ethnobotanical surveys have been used to gather this knowledge from indigenous communities through semi-structured interviews. The random sampling method for the survey was adapted and questionnaires were designed. 100 key informants were interviewed from 20 rural mountainous villages of Gilgit-Baltistan (Pakistan) Perception analysis revealed that local people had observed and experienced the rapid climate shift during the last 10 years. The fluctuations in seasonal onset patterns with increased warming have employed significant changes in these ecosystems in terms of longer growing seasons, increased vegetation, and pastures fertility. Moreover, increased crop yield, early harvest, and increase in forage are significant predictors of temperature and rainfall variation. Rotational crop patterns, socioeconomic features, and agricultural outcomes are predictors of positive impacts of warming but with sudden downpours, these agricultural impacts are temporarily depending upon the adaptability of plant species. The summary statistics of binary logistic and multivariate regression models suggested the significant impact of age, elevation, gender, and education on local’s perception regarding climate change impacts. The perceptions about the local biodiversity responses to warming and overexploitation of these medicinal plants served basis for the manipulative experimentation. The relative effects of climate warming with grazing on medicinally important plants are not fully understood in the HKKH region in the face of current climate change. Overgrazing of the medicinal plant species is another human-driven pressure on these ecosystems, and current warming is favoring the growth of forage species. Therefore, we combined the indigenous knowledge about culturally important therapeutic plants with experimental warming (open-top chambers) and manual clipping (simulated grazing effect) and compared the relative difference on aboveground biomass and percent cover of medicinally important plant species at five alpine meadow sites on an elevation gradient (4696 m-3346 m) from 2016-2018. Experimental warming increased biomass and percent cover throughout the experiment. However, the interactive treatment effect (warming x clipping) was significant on biomass but not on percent cover. These responses were taxa specific. Warming induced an increase of 1±0.6% in Bistorta officinalis percent cover while for Poa alpina it was 18.7 ± 4.9%. Contrastingly, clipping had a marginally significant effect in reducing the biomass and cover of all plant species. Clipping treatment reduced vegetation cover & biomass by 2.3% and 6.26%, respectively, but that was not significant due to the high variability among taxa response at different sites. It was found that clipping decreased the effects of warming in interactive plots. Thus, warming may increase the availability of therapeutic plants for indigenous people while overgrazing would have deteriorating effects locally. With the evidence of increased biomass production of some medicinal plant species, the potential of their bioactive therapeutic properties was investigated through High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) analysis which revealed a significant increase in the major phenolic acid and flavonoids in the target species. Rutin, quercetin, myricetin, gallic acid, and kaempferol are represented as major compounds that accumulated in high concentration in response to warming. Pearson correlation has shown a positive correlation in total phenolic content and total flavonoid contents of the important medicinal plants. While the accumulation of other minor compounds, such as vanillic acid, syringic acid, ferulic acid, and catechin, species showed specific individualistic variation in concentration. The species-specific responses indicated some dominant species such as P. alpina, A. rupestris, A. penduncularis, P. hololeuca, and P. macrophylla. Medicinal plant species under stress can accumulate more secondary metabolites which explain their capacity of adaptation. The propagation of these species under warming revealed the increased potential of aeroallergens. Artemisia species aeroallergens were investigated through Fourier transform infra-red (FTIR) spectroscopy, which revealed significant differences in the regions of amide 1 profile among species 1550-1650 cm 1. the warming treatment employed a non-significant effect on plant species’ allergenic proteins. The findings of this research illustrate that vegetation sensitivity to warming and overgrazing is likely to affect man–environment relationships, and traditional knowledge on a regional scale. Plants originating from a cold climate, higher altitude, or semi-arid environment had the highest phenolic contents in their physiological parts. The findings provide useful information for the exploitation of the phenolic compounds in these weeds for the development of environmental sustainability. These findings are novel in this regard, which provides evidence of climate change impacts and extreme events in Gilgit Baltistan. On the other hand, mandatory efforts are obligatory to conserve the local ecosystem in response to climate change, through implementing environmental conservation strategies. Therefore, concerns are raised to adopt policies that may mitigate the climate shocks and address the difficulties being faced by local communities.
Gov't Doc #: 27224
Appears in Collections:PhD Thesis of All Public / Private Sector Universities / DAIs.

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