Diversity and distribution of figs in Tripura with four new additional records

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Smita Debbarma
Biplab Banik
Biswajit Baishnab
B.K. Datta
Koushik Majumdar


Abstract: The genus Ficus L., commonly known as Fig plays an important role in the forest ecosystem, being a keystone species. Taxonomic revision, habitat assessment, and floristic study of the genus Ficus of northeastern region are scanty and still lacking. As the genus is rich in diversity, this region possesses tremendous scope for utilisation of its members, as many species belonging to this genus carry good properties for diverse uses for the benefit of mankind. Therefore, the present study has been undertaken for identification of the collected taxa, diversity assessment of the wild as well as planted species, distribution throughout the state and preparation of a comprehensive checklist along with measures of diverse functions and ecological role of the genus Ficus in Tripura, North-East India.  Field survey was conducted between April 2017–August 2018 throughout Tripura and all the locations were marked with GPS which is given in the present distribution map of Ficus in Tripura. This study is based on extensive field survey and specimen collection. Key taxonomic description, both accepted and vernacular names, phenology, and diverse habitat function of all species have been provided. Based on the available literatures, distribution information of the present records were calculated.  Evaluation of diverse ecological role were scored based on the published literature and field observations.  In the present study, 23 taxa of Ficus have been reported from the study area including four new distribution records.  Most of the Ficus species recorded in this study were from moist mixed deciduous and secondary forests. Out of 23 species of Ficus recorded in the present study, seven (7) species belong to evergreen small tree to shrub (F. benghalensis, F. drupacea, F. elastica, F. microcarpa, F. racemosa, F. sarmentosa and F. semicordata); three (3) species recorded are large deciduous tree (F. racemosa, F. religiosa and F. rumphii).  Fleshy fruited trees are the most preferable option for survival of frugivores over diverse habitats and thus, plays major role for entire ecosystem restoration. The present work will be useful to understand the critical interactions between plants and frugivore at different trophic levels. Further, Ficus groups tend to have multiple ecological roles, and as a result there exists huge scope to understand the mechanisms of plant functional traits for conservation of threatened frugivore diversity.

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