The pattern of bird distribution along the elevation gradient of the Sutlej River basin, western Himalaya, India

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Balraj Santhakumar
P. Ramachandran Arun
Ramapurath Kozhummal Sony
Maruthakutti Murugesan
Chinnasamy Ramesh


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 variables—precipitation, area, and MDE richness—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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Santhakumar, B., Arun, P.R., Sony, R.K., Murugesan, M. and Ramesh, C. 2018. The pattern of bird distribution along the elevation gradient of the Sutlej River basin, western Himalaya, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 10, 13 (Nov. 2018), 12715–12725. DOI:
Author Biographies

Balraj Santhakumar, Environmental Impact Assessment Division (EIA), Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology & Natural History, Anaikatty, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 641108, India

B. Santhakumar is a PhD scholar at Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History (SACON). His research activity focuses on the distribution pattern of birds along the elevational gradient. 

P. Ramachandran Arun, Environmental Impact Assessment Division (EIA), Sálim Ali Centre for Ornithology & Natural History, Anaikatty, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 641108, India

Dr P.R. Arun is a Senior Principal Scientist & Head of Environmental Impact Assessment Division of SACON, Coimbatore. He is mainly involved in research related with assessment and management of developmental Impacts on ecological systems, EIA, entomology (butterfly ecology & chronobiological aspects), ecology, conservation sciences and environmental jurisprudence.  

Ramapurath Kozhummal Sony, Academy for Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Sriramapura, Jakkur Post, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560064, India

R.K. Sony is a PhD scholar at Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE). His research focuses on the transformation of environmentalism and environmental subjectivity in Kerala. 

Maruthakutti Murugesan, Botanical Survey of India, Eastern Regional Centre, Shillong, Meghalaya 793003, India

Dr M. Murugesan is working as a Scientist-B at Botanical Survey of India (BSI), Eastern Regional Centre, Shillong. He is interested in plant taxonomy and ecological research.  

Chinnasamy Ramesh, Department of Population Management, Capture & Rehabilitation, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Uttarakhand 248001, India

Dr C. Ramesh is working as a Scientist at Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. His research interest includes various aspects of ecology, ethology, human – wildlife interactions, invasive alien species, climate change, biodiversity conservation and coastal & marine research.


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