The importance of conserving fragmented forest patches with high diversity of flowering plants in the northern Western Ghats: an example from Maharashtra, India

Main Article Content

Amol Kishor Kasodekar
Amol Dilip Jadhav
Rani Babanrao Bhagat
Rakesh Mahadev Pawar
Vidya Shrikant Gupta
Narendra Yashwant Kadoo


The northern Western Ghats (NWG) comprises of a patchy continuum of forests that have been severely fragmented mainly due to anthropogenic activities.  We documented tree diversity within a representative fragmented forest patch of the NWG to study the effects of fragmentation on forest structure and composition.  The floristic survey was conducted by replicated strip transect sampling method leading to a total sampling area of 0.3ha.  A total of 444 individual trees (Girth>10cm) were sampled, which represented 49 tree species belonging to 42 genera and 23 families.  Species richness per unit area and tree density were higher than previously reported values from similar forest type in various regions of NWG.  These variations, however, could have resulted due to differences in the sampling area, sampling method, and girth classes used across different studies.  Nevertheless, various diversity parameters such as N/S ratio, Simpson’s index, Shannon’s index, and Fisher’s α index were comparable with those reported in previous studies in the Western Ghats.  The observed species richness was close to species richness estimates such as abundance-based coverage estimate, Chao-1, and Jackknife estimators.  The present study also enumerates 108 species of understory flowering plants, which is provided as a checklist.  While access restrictions are imposed in protected areas having high conservation priority, such restrictions are not imposed in non-protected areas, which make them much more vulnerable to anthropogenic activities.  Hence, this study recommends that owing to their high diversity, the fragmented forest patches of NWG should also be given high conservation priority.

Article Details

Author Biographies

Amol Kishor Kasodekar, Biochemical Sciences Division, CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, Maharashtra 411008, India.

Ph.D. Scholar

Biochemical Sciences Division,

CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Dr. Homi Bhabha Road,

Pashan, Pune 411008, Maharashtra, India


Amol Dilip Jadhav, Biochemical Sciences Division, CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, Maharashtra 411008, India.

Senior Project Fellow,

Biochemical Sciences Division,

CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Dr. Homi Bhabha Road,

Pashan, Pune 411008, Maharashtra, India


Rani Babanrao Bhagat, Department of Botany, Baburaoji Gholap College, Pune, Maharashtra 411027, India.

Assistant Professor,

Department of Botany, Anantrao Pawar College, Pirangut, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Vidya Shrikant Gupta, Biochemical Sciences Division, CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, Maharashtra 411008, India.

Emeritus Scientist,

Biochemical Sciences Division,

CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Dr. Homi Bhabha Road, Pashan, Pune 411008, Maharashtra, India

Narendra Yashwant Kadoo, Biochemical Sciences Division, CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, Maharashtra 411008, India.

Senior Scientist, Biochemical Sciences Division,

CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Dr. Homi Bhabha Road, Pashan, Pune 411008, Maharashtra, India



Arroyoâ€Rodríguez, V., E. Pineda, F. Escobar & J. Benítezâ€Malvido (2009). Value of small patches in the conservation of plantâ€species diversity in highly fragmented rainforest. Conservation Biology 23(3): 729–739.

Buckland, S.T., D.L. Borchers, A. Johnston, P.A. Henrys & T.A. Marques (2007). Line transect methods for plant surveys. Biometrics 63(4): 989–998.

Castillo-Campos, G., G. Halffter & C.E. Moreno (2008). Primary and secondary vegetation patches as contributors to floristic diversity in a tropical deciduous forest landscape. Biodiversity and Conservation 17(7): 1701–1714.

Chandran, M.S. (1997). On the ecological history of the Western Ghats. Current Science 73(2): 146–155.

Chase, M.W., M.J.M. Christenhusz, M.F. Fay, J.W. Byng, W.S. Judd, D.E. Soltis, D.J. Mabberley, A.N. Sennikov, P.S. Soltis & P.F. Stevens (2016). An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG IV. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 181(1): 1–20.

Cincotta, R.P., J. Wisnewski & R. Engelman (2000). Human population in the biodiversity hotspots. Nature 404(6781): 990–992.

Colwell, R.K. (2013). EstimateS: Statistical estimation of species richness and shared species from samples. Version 9. Available online at Accessed on 20/06/2018.

Daniels, R.J.R. (2011). Spatial Heterogeneity, Landscapes and Ecological Sensitivity in the Western Ghats. Report submitted to Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel. The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, New Delhi, India, 19pp.

Davidar, P., J.P. Puyravaud & E.G. Leigh (2005). Changes in rain forest tree diversity, dominance and rarity across a seasonality gradient in the Western Ghats, India. Journal of Biogeography 32(3): 493–501.

ZSI (2012). Fauna of Maharashtra, State Fauna Series 20 (Part l): Vertebrates. ZooIogical Survey of India, Kolkata, 480pp.

Fang, X., G. Shen, Q. Yang, H. Liu, Z. Ma, D.C. Deane & X. Wang (2017). Habitat heterogeneity explains mosaics of evergreen and deciduous trees at localâ€scales in a subtropical evergreen broadâ€leaved forest. Journal of Vegetation Science 28(2): 379–388.

Farah, F.T., R. de Lara Muylaert, M.C. Ribeiro, J.W. Ribeiro, J.R.D.S.A. Mangueira, V.C. Souza & R.R. Rodrigues (2017). Integrating plant richness in forest patches can rescue overall biodiversity in human-modified landscapes. Forest Ecology and Management 397: 78–88.

Gadgil, M. (1996). Western Ghats: a lifescape. Journal of Indian Institute of Sciences 76: 495–504.

Ghate, V.S. & M.N. Datar (2009). Tree diversity of Maharashtra-species richness, distribution, endemism, introductions and use values. Indian Journal of Tropical Biodiversity 17(2): 157–164.

Gordon, J.E. & A.C. Newton (2006). Efficient floristic inventory for the assessment of tropical tree diversity: a comparative test of four alternative approaches. Forest Ecology and Management 237(1–3): 564–573.

Gotelli, N.J. & R.K. Colwell (2001). Quantifying biodiversity: procedures and pitfalls in the measurement and comparison of species richness. Ecology Letters 4(4): 379–391.

Gotelli, N.J. & R.K. Colwell (2011). Estimating species richness. Biological Diversity: Frontiers in Measurement and Assessment 12: 39–54.

Gunawardene, N.R., D.A. Daniels, I.A.U.N. Gunatilleke, C.V.S. Gunatilleke, P.V. Karunakaran, G.K. Nayak, S. Prasad, P. Puyravaud, B.R. Ramesh, K.A. Subramanian & G. Vasanthy (2007). A brief overview of the Western Ghats–Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspot. Current Science 93(11): 1567–1572.

Haddad, N.M., L.A. Brudvig, J. Clobert, K.F. Davies, A. Gonzalez, R.D. Holt, T.E. Lovejoy, J.O. Sexton, M.P. Austin, C.D. Collins & W.M. Cook (2015). Habitat fragmentation and its lasting impact on Earth’s ecosystems. Science Advances 1(2): e1500052.

Hammer, Ř., D.A.T. Harper & P.D. Ryan (2001). PAST: Paleontological Statistics Software Package for Education and Data Analysis. Palaeontologia Electronica 4(1): 9.

Ibanez, T., V. Hequet, C. Chambrey, T. Jaffré & P. Birnbaum (2017). How does forest fragmentation affect tree communities? A critical case study in the biodiversity hotspot of New Caledonia. Landscape Ecology 32(8): 1671–1687.

Joglekar, A., M. Tadwalkar, M. Mhaskar, B. Chavan, K.N. Ganeshaiah & A. Patwardhan (2015). Tree Species Composition in Koyana Wildlife Sanctuary, northern Western Ghats of India. Current Science 108(9): 1688–1693.

Kale, M.P., G. Talukdar, R.K. Panigrahy & S. Singh (2010). Patterns of fragmentation and identification of possible corridors in north Western Ghats. Journal of the Indian Society of Remote Sensing 38(3): 401–413.

Kanade, R., M. Tadwalkar, C. Kushalappa & A. Patwardhan (2008). Vegetation composition and woody species diversity at Chandoli National Park, northern Western Ghats, India. Current Science 95(5): 637–646.

Laurance, W.F., H.E. Nascimento, S.G. Laurance, A.C. Andrade, P.M. Fearnside, J.E. Ribeiro & R.L. Capretz (2006). Rain forest fragmentation and the proliferation of successional trees. Ecology 87(2): 469–482.

Magurran, A.E. (2013). Measuring Biological Diversity. Wiley-Blackwell, UK, 264pp.

Mendes, G., V. Arroyo-Rodríguez, W.R. Almeida, S.R.R. Pinto, V.D. Pillar & M. Tabarelli (2016). Plant trait distribution and the spatial reorganization of tree assemblages in a fragmented tropical forest landscape. Plant Ecology 217(1): 31–42.

Mittermeier, R.A., P.R. Gil, M. Hoffman, J. Pilgrim, T. Brooks, C.G. Mittermeier, J. Lamoreux & G.A.B. Da Fonseca (2005). Hotspots Revisited: Earth’s Biologically Richest and Most Endangered Terrestrial Ecoregions. Conservation International, Washington, DC, 392pp.

Muthuramkumar, S., N. Ayyappan, N. Parthasarathy, D. Mudappa, T.S. Raman, M.A. Selwyn & L.A. Pragasan (2006). Plant community structure in tropical rain forest fragments of the Western Ghats, India 1. Biotropica 38(2): 143–160.

Myers, N., R.A. Mittermeier, C.G. Mittermeier, G.A. Da Fonseca & J. Kent (2000). Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403(6772): 853–858.

Nayar, T.S., A.R. Beegam & M. Sibi (2014). Flowering Plants of the Western Ghats, India. Vols. I & II. Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, Palode, India, 1683pp.

Panigrahy, R.K., M.P. Kale, U. Dutta, A. Mishra, B. Banerjee & S. Singh (2010). Forest cover change detection of Western Ghats of Maharashtra using satellite remote sensing based visual interpretation technique. Current Science 98(5): 657–664.

Pascal, J.P. (1988). Wet evergreen forests of the Western Ghats of India: ecology, structure, floristic composition and succession. Travaux de la Section Scientifique et Technique, Tome XXIII, Institut Français de Pondichéry, Pondicherry, India. 345pp.

PCCF. (2013). A statistical outline: Current salient forest statistics, 2013. A report published by Office of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Forest department, Maharashtra, India. 162pp. Available online at

Reddy, C.S., C.S. Jha & V.K. Dadhwal (2016). Assessment and monitoring of long-term forest cover changes (1920–2013) in Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot. Journal of Earth System Science 125(1): 103–114.

Rodgers, W.A., H.S. Panwar & V.B. Mathur (2000). Wildlife Protected Area Network in India: A Review (Executive Summary). Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, India, 44pp.

Sharma, B.D., S. Karthikeyan & N.P. Singh (eds.) (1996). Flora of Maharashtra (Monocot). Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta, India, 794pp.

Singh, N.P., P.L.S. Kartikeyan & P.V. Prasanna (eds.) (2001). Flora of Maharashtra State: Dicotyledons. Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta, India, 1080pp.

Sloan, S., C.N. Jenkins, L.N. Joppa, D.L. Gaveau & W.F. Laurance (2014). Remaining natural vegetation in the global biodiversity hotspots. Biological Conservation 177: 12–24.

Viviroli, D., H.H. Dürr, B. Messerli, M. Meybeck & R. Weingartner (2007). Mountains of the world, water towers for humanity: typology, mapping, and global significance. Water Resources Research 43(7): W07447.

Watve, A., R. Gandhe & K. Gandhe (2003). Vegetation structure and composition of semi-evergreen forest fragments in Mulshi area of northern Western Ghats. Annals of Forestry 11(2): 155–165.

Williams, J.N. (2013). Humans and biodiversity: population and demographic trends in the hotspots. Population and Environment 34(4): 510–523.

Wilson, M.C., X.Y. Chen, R.T. Corlett, R.K. Didham, P. Ding, R.D. Holt, M. Holyoak, G. Hu, A.C. Hughes, L. Jiang, W.F. Laurance, J. Liu, S.L. Pimm, S.K. Robinson, S.E. Rosso, X. Si, D.S. Wilcove, J. Wu & M. Yu (2016). Habitat fragmentation and biodiversity conservation: key findings and future challenges. Landscape Ecology 31(2): 219–227.

Yadav, S.R. & M.M. Sardesai (2002). Flora of Kolhapur District. Shivaji University Press, Kolhapur, India, 679pp.