A large-scale inventory of liana diversity in tropical forests of South Eastern Ghats India
Muthumperumal C; Parthasarathy N
Systematics and Biodiversity
Among the plant life-forms lianas the wood climbers still remain less studied than trees. The forests of Eastern Ghats of\r\nIndia are also relatively under studied compared with the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot. We conducted a large-scale\r\nlandscape-level investigation of liana diversity in six hill complexes of the South Eastern Ghats which covers 4297 km2.\r\nWe divided the study area into 6.25 km Ã— 6.25 km grids and within each grid a 0.5 ha (5 m Ã— 1000 m) transect was\r\nestablished and all lianas â‰¥1.5 cm diameter at breast height (dbh) were inventoried in 110 transects totalling a 55-ha area.\r\nLiana diversity totalled 143 species in 83 genera and 37 families in the 55 ha sampled. Of these 20 species (28.6%) were\r\nendemic to peninsular India and 7 (10%) species belonged to the rare and endangered category. Liana species richness\r\nranged from 8â€“35 species and density 95â€“544 individuals per transect. A total of 32 033 liana individuals were enumerated\r\nin the 55 ha and the mean abundance was 291 individuals per transect. Across sites liana abundance varied significantly\r\nbut not species richness and basal area. Asclepiadaceae (13 species 9%) and Apocynaceae (11 species 8%) constituted the\r\nmost diverse liana families followed by Papilionaceae Vitaceae (10 each 7%) Convolvulaceae Mimosaceae Oleaceae\r\n(8 each 6%) Capparaceae Rhamnaceae (7 each 5%) and Menispermaceae (5 species 3%). In liana stem size distribution\r\nthe lowest diameter class (1.5â€“3 cm dbh) accounted for greatest species richness (137 species 96%) abundance (27 358\r\nindividuals 85%) and basal area (13.5 m2 36%). The stem twiners were the predominant climber type in terms of species\r\nrichness (61 species 42.65%) whereas the armed scramblers were abundant due to stem density (21 571 individuals\r\n67.34%). The dispersal modes of lianas assessed by fruit types revealed zoochory as the prevalent mode (85 species 59%)\r\nindicating the faunal dependence of lianas in the Eastern Ghats landscape. Liana diversity of the Eastern Ghats was\r\ncompared with inventories made across the tropics. With these baseline data generated on lianas the importance of\r\nbiodiversity conservation of the already fragmented South Eastern Ghats region is underlined and potential areas of further\r\nresearch on liana ecology are suggested.