Grass species composition in tropical forest of southern India

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M. Ashokkumar
S. Swaminathan
R. Nagarajan

Abstract

Grass composition was assessed by plot method (1 m2; n= 1,749) in three habitats (dry deciduous-DDF, moist deciduous-MDF, and thorn forest-TF) at Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, southern India across different seasons from Jan 2004 to Dec 2007. The grass species richness and availability (per cent composition) varied significantly with habitats. Seventy-four species of grasses and sedges were recorded in all three habitats, with a few species common in all habitats. Grass availability varied significantly in different habitats across seasons and was positively influenced by precipitation. Among biotic factors, regeneration and shrub density had a primary influence on grass availability, followed by herb, sedge and weed density. The principal coordinate analysis revealed seven major associations in the tropical forest. There were considerable changes in the composition and association of grasses when compared to the past. Fire resistant species such as Themeda triandra, Heteropogan contortus and T. cymbaria dominated in the DDF. Grass species Aristida/Eragorstis were recorded in the TF, which were considered as indicators of heavy grazing pressure. Grass species that were reported rare and sporadic in the earlier study were not recorded, which emphasizes better pasture management in the tropical forest. Grass species composition and availability was threatened by invasion of weeds. 

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[1]
M. Ashokkumar, S. Swaminathan and R. Nagarajan 2021. Grass species composition in tropical forest of southern India. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 13, 12 (Oct. 2021), 19702–19713. DOI:https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.7296.13.12.19702-19713.
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