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We examined the species richness of birds along the elevation gradient of the Sutlej River basin in Himachal Pradesh in the western Himalaya of India. Birds were sampled at 318 sites categorized into 16 elevation bands ranging from 498 to 3700 m between June 2012 and April 2013. A total of 203 bird species were recorded. Species richness showed a monotonic decline with increasing elevation, with 27% of species recorded within a narrow elevation range. We tested the roles of explanatory variables such as environment (temperature, precipitation, area, & Mid-domain Effect (MDE) richness) and habitat (Normalized Differential Vegetation Index (NDVI): July, November & March) on the observed distribution pattern. The observed species richness pattern was strongly correlated with temperature, while three other variablesâ€”precipitation, area, and MDE richnessâ€”contributed negligibly to the observed pattern. The present study indicates that climatic conditions and vegetation are the major contributors for determining species richness along the Sutlej River basin. Thus, a customized approach is crucial for conservation of species in the elevation range.
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