Diversity and tree population structure of tropical dry evergreen forests in Sivagangai district of Tamil Nadu, India
SM. Sundarapandian* and S. Subbiah
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Abstract: Vegetation structure and species composition were studied in the four selected undocumented sacred groves (tropical dry evergreen forest patches) in the Karaikudi taluk of Sivagangai district of Tamil Nadu, India. A total of 106 plant species were recorded in all the sacred groves. The number of species and diversity indices of trees and understory (which includes tree seedlings and saplings, climbers and shrubs) community showed greater values in site III (Thiruparkkadal Chellayae Amman Kovil sacred grove) compared to other study sites. In contrast, a reverse trend was observed in the case of herbaceous community. Albizia amara was the dominant tree species in site I (Vidathudaiyar kovil sacred grove) and site IV (Aakkamudaiyar kovil sacred grove) followed by Acacia leucophloea. In site II, (Koodaiyakkaruppar kovil sacred grove), Drypetes sepiaria was the dominant tree species. Ficus benghalensis is the dominant species in site III. The understory community was dominated by Acacia leucophloea in sites I, II and III, whereas in site IV, Randia spinosa was dominant. Tephrosia purpurea was the dominant species in the herbaceous community in site I while in site II, grasses were dominant. Leucas aspera was the dominant species in the herbaceous community of site III and site IV. These sacred groves still possess a sizable proportion of the region’s characteristic flora. They also have rich cultural tradition associated with them. These sacred groves should be protected to conserve the regional flora adjacent to human habitats as well as to sink carbon during global warming.
Fig.: Diameter class wise (DBH) distribution of some dominant species in the selected sacred grove (Site I) in the Karaikudi taluk of Sivagangai District, Tamil Nadu, India.