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Agricultural and Biological Sciences » "Vegetation", book edited by Allan Sebata, ISBN 978-953-51-3830-3, Print ISBN 978-953-51-3829-7, Published: March 14, 2018 under CC BY 3.0 license. © The Author(s).

Chapter 6

Vegetation Structure and Prioritizing Plants for Eco-Restoration of Degraded Wildlife Corridor in Dry Tropical Forest of South India

By Paramesha Mallegowda, Siddappa Setty and Ganesan Rengaian
DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.72706

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Matrix of forests, wildlife corridors, dependent villages, farmland and road network in and around the corridor landscape (marked in circles).
Figure 1. Matrix of forests, wildlife corridors, dependent villages, farmland and road network in and around the corridor landscape (marked in circles).
Survey design for vegetation study in the corridor landscape of BRT Tiger Reserve. The sampling was carried out in the blocks which fall within the circles. One 2 × 2 km sampling block consists of four vegetation plots, eight shrub plots and 32 herb plots.
Figure 2. Survey design for vegetation study in the corridor landscape of BRT Tiger Reserve. The sampling was carried out in the blocks which fall within the circles. One 2 × 2 km sampling block consists of four vegetation plots, eight shrub plots and 32 herb plots.
Relationships between species diversity (H′) and three habitat characteristics (fuelwood collection, livestock grazing and Lantana camara density). Cut stems/plot implies fuelwood collection in the landscape.
Figure 3. Relationships between species diversity (H′) and three habitat characteristics (fuelwood collection, livestock grazing and Lantana camara density). Cut stems/plot implies fuelwood collection in the landscape.

Vegetation Structure and Prioritizing Plants for Eco-Restoration of Degraded Wildlife Corridor in Dry Tropical Forest of South India

Paramesha Mallegowda1, 2, Siddappa Setty1 and Ganesan Rengaian1
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Wildlife corridors are critical to manage wildlife and maintain ecological processes. However, they are fragmented and degraded due to various anthropogenic activities. Fragmentation in turn affects population viability of species by affecting their dispersal, re-colonization and genetic exchanges. But the process can be reversed through restoration and management of ‘functional corridors’. So far in the forestry sector, monoculture plantations are known to be the ideal reforestation/afforestation strategy to restore degraded landscape but experts argue that monoculture plantations have failed to recover former biological diversity. Therefore, for successful eco-restoration, first, the regional plant stock has to be identified and then suitable plant species have to be prioritized. The habitat enrichment through assisted vegetation method in the degraded wildlife corridors can improve green cover and also bring back the original vegetation. The study was conducted in the Edeyarahalli-Doddasampige wildlife corridor area, which is part of Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve, Western Ghats, India. The vegetation was enumerated through transect and quadrate method. The vegetation structure was analyzed and ten suitable native plant species were prioritized for eco-restoration. The priority was given based on site condition and socio-ecological importance of the plants such as trees with timber value, non-timber forest products, nectar source for honey bees and also food source for elephants. At a time of unprecedented forest destruction, the interventions made through this line of research would not only improve the habitat quality but also increase the functionality of wildlife corridors by providing safe passage for animals’ movement. In addition to this, convergence of local multistakeholders and their responsibility needs to be explored toward eco-restoration process.

Keywords: Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve, restoration, Western Ghats, wildlife corridor

1. Introduction

The world’s tropical forests are being fragmented and degraded with significant loss of species diversity and ecosystem services [1, 2, 3, 4]. Unplanned infrastructure development in forest landscapes, clearing of forest land for expansion of human habitation as well as farmland, and unsustainable extraction of forest resources can create growing pressures and also inflict negative impacts on wildlife habitat [5, 6, 7]. According to meta-population, meta-community and island-biogeography theories, degradation and fragmentation of natural wildlife habitats could lead to the extinction of many species across the globe due to loss of sub-population connectedness and inbreeding depression [4, 8]. Therefore, at the time of unprecedented wildlife habitat destruction, eco-restoration of degraded forest areas particularly wildlife corridors is gaining global importance and also emerging as a practical conservation strategy [9, 10, 11, 12]. Under the ‘Green India Mission’, the Indian government is planning to double afforestation efforts by 2020 [13] and also planning to buy private plantations to restore elephant corridors [14, 15].

According to the ‘Field of Dreams Hypothesis’, if a habitat is successfully restored, the species will return but we need to refine the appropriate restoration strategy. So far in the forestry sector, monoculture plantations are known to be the ideal reforestation strategy to restore degraded landscapes [16, 17, 18] but experts argue that monoculture plantations failed to recover their former biological diversity [19, 20, 21]). Therefore, to reverse the effect, the eco-restoration method would be the appropriate strategy. Habitat enrichment through assisted vegetation method can improve green cover as well as bring back the native vegetation and provide resource rich passage for animals’ movement. However, as a first step in the eco-restoration activity, the regional plant stock has to be assessed and then suitable native plant species has to be prioritized based on their socio-ecological importance and site condition [22]. In addition to this, the species which are selected for eco-restoration should be strong and hard enough to withstand and survive in the prevailing climatic conditions; mainly heavy rain and dry seasons [16]. This is because, the type of forest occurring naturally in a place is the result of the complex influence of the climatic, edaphic, topographic, and biotic factors of the locality [23].

The Edeyaralli-Doddasampige wildlife corridor (ED corridor) in Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve (BRT), Western Ghats is one such biodiversity rich forest landscape but subjected to various land-use practices leading to fragmentation and degradation of wildlife habitat and wildlife migratory routes. Therefore, action and restoration research has been planned in this degraded corridor to maintain the habitat quality and also increase the functionality of the corridor through assisted vegetation enrichment. For successful eco-restoration, first, the regional plant stock has to be identified and then suitable plant species have to be prioritized. In this study, we have addressed the following two research questions; (i) How are the plant community variables such as species richness, density, diversity and IVI (Importance Value Index) distributed among life forms in the corridor landscape?, (ii) How do we prioritize the suitable plant species/categories for eco-restoration of degraded wildlife corridor?

2. Methods

2.1. Study site

The study has been carried out at Edeyarahalli-Doddasampige wildlife corridor (ED corridor), which is one of the degraded but ecologically important functional corridors between Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve (BRT) and Malai Mahadeswara Hills Wildlife Sanctuary (MM Hills) (Figure 1). The dimension of the ED corridor is 0.5 km in length and 2 km in width and the geographical coordinates are 11°55′15″ to 11°56′15″N and 77°15′20″ to 77°15′45″E. The corridor landscape is largely in the dry deciduous and scrub forest type. It harbors rich floral and faunal diversity, mainly IUCN red listed mammal species such as Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris), Indian leopard (Panthera pardus) and Indian wild dog (Cuon alpinus). In addition to this, the corridor landscape is inhabited by Soligas, an indigenous tribal community and a few other non-tribal communities.


Figure 1.

Matrix of forests, wildlife corridors, dependent villages, farmland and road network in and around the corridor landscape (marked in circles).

The corridor landscape is severely degraded due to unplanned land-use practices, past forest management activities- logging and shifting cultivation -and the problem of invasive/exotic plants species [24, 25]. Apart from that, the villagers use this corridor regularly for livestock grazing and fuel wood collection [6]. In addition to this, the state highway (SH-17A) is passing through this wildlife corridor and an average of one vehicle per minute was recorded on this road [26]. This could be an additional threat to the movement of wildlife in this corridor. Irrespective of various threats, ED corridor provides space and passage for more than 15 mammal species (large, medium and small) to move from Western Ghats to forested landscapes of Eastern Ghats [27]. Adjacent to this corridor, in 2007 approx. 25.5 acres of private land was purchased from local farmers to widen the corridor by WTI (Wildlife Trust of India) and its international partner organization International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), with financial support from US Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS). The land was then handed over to the Karnataka State Forest Department to augment the corridor. This was a pioneering move in corridor conservation in India [6].

2.2. Vegetation enumeration

Transect method was used to enumerate vegetation in the corridor landscape. There were 64 belt transects of 0.1 ha (10 × 100 m), 128 plots of 10 m2 and 512 plots of 1 m2 were established to enumerate trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants respectively in the study area (Figure 2). Each sampling transect was marked with red ribbons, and the GPS coordinates were recorded at the center of each transect for future study purpose. The sampling was carried out in the month of October, which is the peak wet season in the study area. This is because during the wet season the chances of finding herbaceous species as well as seedlings of woody species in the study area are higher.


Figure 2.

Survey design for vegetation study in the corridor landscape of BRT Tiger Reserve. The sampling was carried out in the blocks which fall within the circles. One 2 × 2 km sampling block consists of four vegetation plots, eight shrub plots and 32 herb plots.

2.2.1. Data collection

In 10 × 100 m transects all stems >5 cm DBH (diameter at breast height - at 130 cm) were enumerated. The DBH of the individual stems were measured for all the species found in the transects using calibrated DBH tape. The height was measured through visual approximation method [28, 29]. In 10 × 10 m plots all the shrubs and saplings of woody plant species whose DBH fell between 1 and 5 cm were counted and named. Finally, in the 1 × 1 m plots all the herbaceous plants and seedlings of woody plant species (whose stem size was <1 cm) were recorded. For most of the species, botanical names and family names were identified and recorded in the field itself. For unidentified plant species, the specimen samples were collected for herbarium preparation and identification was done in the laboratory by using ‘Flora of the Presidency of Madras’ [30]. For grass species the per cent cover per unit area was calculated through visual estimation rather than counting individual species. The percentage of invasive species Lantana camara cover per plot was also recorded through visual estimation at the time of study period. Visual estimation is fast, requires no specialized equipment, and can be adapted to plants of various growth forms [28, 29]. In addition to this, the number of cut stems and cowpats was recorded in the transects to assess the intensity of fuel wood collection and cattle grazing respectively in the study area.

Plant community variables such as species richness, Shannon’s diversity H′ and evenness J was calculated for the corridor landscape. Simple linear regression models were developed to test the influence of Lantana camara, fuelwood collection and cattle grazing on native plant diversity. In addition to this, species Importance Value Index (IVI) was calculated to identify the dominant species of the study area for both tree and non-tree classes.

For trees the IVI was calculated by using the formula; IVI of sp. i = relative density of sp. i + relative frequency of sp. i + relative dominance of sp. i. However, since data on relative dominance which is derived from basal area is not possible for non-trees, the IVI for undergrowth (non-trees) was calculated using the formula modified as IVI of sp. i = relative density of sp. i + relative frequency of sp. i.

Local community considerations were also considered in addition to scientific data in prioritizing suitable native plant species for eco-restoration. This is because people from the landscape, especially Soliga tribals, possess sophisticated knowledge about biodiversity and traditional forest resource management practices [25, 31, 32]. Therefore, a participatory approach was employed to prioritize native plant species. Three Focus Group Discussions (FGD) were conducted in three corridor landscape dependent villages. In addition, a couple of informal interviews were also conducted. Questions were asked regarding corridors, wildlife, eco-restoration and presence of suitable plant species in the landscape.

3. Results

3.1. Plant community structure

Species richness and Shannon’s diversity H′ is relatively higher in tree class compared to shrub and herbaceous class. The evenness J is more or less similar between shrub and herbaceous class but relatively higher than tree class (Table 1). The corridor landscape had 92 tree species (belonging to 39 families), 75 shrub species (belonging to 41 families) and 185 species (belonging to 65 families). About 73.9% stems belong to different shrub species and 26.1% are saplings of woody species. In terms of total herbaceous stems enumerated in the study area, around 77.8% are herbaceous plants and 22.2% are woody seedlings.

Community variableTree
(mean ± se)
Per 0.1 ha
(mean ± se)
Per 10 m2
(mean ± se)
Per m2
Grass cover (mean ± se)
(n = 64)(n = 128)(n = 512)(n = 512)
Species richness12.48 ± 0.536.13 ± 0.288.52 ± 0.14
Shannon’s H′2.06 ± 0.051.39 ± 0.051.72 ± 0.02
Evenness J0.69 ± 0.010.78 ± 0.00.74 ± 0.006
Density42.76 ± 3.3621.15 ± 1.3237.89 ± 1.0544.90 ± 1.35

Table 1.

Plant community variables among life forms (trees, shrubs, and herbs) of native vegetation in the corridor area.

3.1.1. Resource plants

The study area is endowed with rich plant resources. Out of 92 tree species, 10 species turned out to be important Non-timber forest products (NTFP) resource plants. They represented 2.5% of the total stems enumerated in the area. Among the NTFP category, fruits of Phyllanthus indofischeri ranked high. Nine tree species provided fuelwood (per. Interviews with local people) – and represented 13.5% of the total stems enumerated. Thirteen species were identified as important food resource for elephants (as mentioned in Refs. [33, 34, 35]), which represent 18% of total stems recorded from the study area (Table 2).

Sl. no.Scientific nameFamilyImportance
1Acacia chundraMimosaceaeFuelwood tree
2Anogeissus latifoliaCombretaceaeFuelwood tree
3Canthium travancoricumRubiaceaeFuelwood tree
4Chloroxylon swieteniaRutaceaeFuelwood tree
5Erythroxylon monogynumErythroxylaceaeFuelwood tree
6Grewia asiaticaTiliaceaeFuelwood tree
7Ixora arboreaRubiaceaeFuelwood tree
8Randia dumetorumRubiaceaeFuelwood tree
9Ziziphus xylopyrusRhamnaceaeFuelwood tree
1Acacia sinuataMimosaceaeNTFP plant (fruit)
2Azadirachta indiaMeliaceaeNTFP plant (fruit)
3Bombax ceibaBombacaceaeNTFP (undeveloped fruit)
4Decalepis hamiltoniiAsclepiadaceaeNTFP plant (root)
5Phoenix loureiriiArecaceaeNTFP plant (leaves)
6Phyllanthus indofischeriEuphorbiaceaeNTFP plant (fruit)
7Syzygium cuminiMyrtaceaeNTFP plant (fruit)
8Tamarindus indicaFabaceaeNTFP plant (fruit)
9Terminalia bellericaCombretaceaeNTFP plant (fruit)
10Terminalia chebulaCombretaceaeNTFP plant (fruit)
1Acacia chundraFabaceaeElephant food plant
2Acacia leucophleaMimosaceaeElephant food plant
3Acacia sinuataMimosaceaeElephant food plant
4Albizia amaraFabaceaeElephant food plant
5Atylosia lineataFabaceaeElephant food plant
6Bambusa arundinaceaPoaceaeElephant food plant
7Capparis seperariaCapparaceaeElephant food plant
8Commiphora caudataBurseraceaeElephant food plant
9Dendrocalamas strictusPoaceaeElephant food plant
10Grewia tilifoliaMalvaceaeElephant food plant
11Hardwickia binataFabaceaeElephant food plant
12Tectona grandisVerbenaceaeElephant food plant
13Ziziphus xylopyrusRhamnaceaeElephant food plant

Table 2.

List of fuelwood, NTFP, and elephant food plant species in the corridor area.

3.2. Species importance value or IVI

The study site was evaluated for importance value index of each species. For tree species, the top ten most common species found in the sampled area were Anogeissus latifolia, Chloroxylon swietenia, Erythroxylon monogynum, Dalbergia lanceolaria, Strychnos potatorum, Naringi crenulata, Acacia chundra, Diospyros montana, Canthium travencoricum and Ixora arborea (Table 3). Among 92 species, these 10 species contribute 52% of the total IVI (Appendix A).

Dominant tree speciesIVI value
Chloroxylon swietenia32.89
Anogeissus latifolia30.72
Erythroxylon monogynum28.76
Acacia chundra11.88
Dalbergia lanceolaria11.48
Strychnos potatorum10.56
Naringi crenulata08.57
Diospyros montana08.34
Ixora arborea07.74
Canthium travancoricum07.70

Table 3.

Importance Value Index (IVI) for top ten tree species in the corridor landscape of BRT Tiger Reserve.

For non-tree forms such as shrubs/saplings, the top ten and most common species found in the corridor landscape were Lantana camara, Pterolobium hexapetalum, Dodonaea viscosa, Randia dumetorum, Chloroxylon swietenia, Erythroxylon monogynum, Zizyphus oenoplia, Fluggea leucopyrus, Eupatorium odoratum, Dolichandrone falcata and Pavetta indica (Table 4). Among 75 species, these 10 species contribute 70% of the total IVI, of which Lantana camara alone contributes 32% (Appendix B).

Non-tree formsDominant speciesIVI value
Saplings/shrubsLantana camara64.60
Pterolobium hexapetalum13.20
Dodonia viscosa11.92
Randia dumetorum09.68
Chloroxylon swietenia09.54
Erythroxylon monogynum07.63
Ziziphus oenoplia07.52
Fluggea leucopyrus05.88
Eupatorium odoratum05.65
Dolichandrone falcata05.47
Seedlings/herbsLeucas martinicensis16.81
Oxalis corniculata12.40
Eupatorium odoratum11.00
Lantana camara10.96
Evolvulus alsinoides05.68
Atylosia lineata04.59
Randia dumetorum04.57
Justicia simplex04.10
Crotalaria calycina03.98
Ziziphus oenoplia03.10

Table 4.

Importance Value Index (IVI) for top ten non-tree species in the corridor landscape of BRT Tiger Reserve.

For the seedlings/herbaceous plant group, the top ten most important species found in the corridor landscape were Leucas martinicensis, Oxalis corniculata, Eupatorium odoratum, Lantana camara, Evolvulus alsinoides, Atylosia lineata, Randia dumetorum, Justicia simplex, Crotalaria calycina and Ziziphus oenoplia (Table 4). Among 185 species, these 10 species contribute 38% of the total IVI (Appendix C).

The problematic invasive weeds of the landscape, such as Lantana camara and Eupatoruim odoratum are contributing significantly toward total IVI in both shrubs and herbs categories. Lantana camara contributes 32.30% and 5.47% for total IVI of shrubs and herbs respectively, whereas Eupatoruim odoratum contributes 2.82% and 5.89% for total IVI of shrubs and herbs respectively. This indicates the extent of invasion of weeds in the landscape.

3.3. Relationship between vegetation diversity and habitat characteristics

The data was analyzed for relationships between one of the community variables such as vegetation diversity - of trees, shrubs and herbs - (as a response variable) with three habitat covariates such as fuelwood collection, livestock grazing intensity and invasive species – Lantana camara density (as predictor variables). The (four) models were developed to test the relationship between Diversity (H′) of- (i) trees vs. fuelwood collection, (ii) shrubs vs. Lantana camara density, (iii) herbs vs. Lantana camara density and (iv) herbs vs. grazing intensity of livestock.

Even though no statistically significant linear dependence of the mean of y on x was detected (the p-values are >0.05 for all relationships except for Shannon’s diversity vs. Lantana camara density in shrubs) the slope (regression coefficients) shows a negative trend (Figure 3). The negative (marked in minus symbol) slope coefficient value for (i) trees vs. fuelwood collection is −0.007, (ii) shrubs vs. Lantana camara density is −0.006, (iii) herbs vs. Lantana camara density is −0.001 and (iv) herbs vs. grazing intensity of livestock −0.005. This indicates that fuelwood collection, cattle grazing and the density of invasive species like Lantana camara affects the species diversity (H′) of life forms (trees, shrubs and herbaceous species) in the corridor landscape.


Figure 3.

Relationships between species diversity (H′) and three habitat characteristics (fuelwood collection, livestock grazing and Lantana camara density). Cut stems/plot implies fuelwood collection in the landscape.

4. Discussion

Species richness is often treated not only as a measure of biodiversity [36] but also quality of the ecosystem and recovery of forest from disturbances such as logging [37, 38, 39]. The corridor is in the dry deciduous and scrub forest harboring 92 tree species in the sampled area, representing approximately 12% of plant species of the entire BRT forest enumerated [40]. The study site had around 10 NTFP species that provide partial household income for people in the corridor landscape; 12% for Soligas and 7% for non-Soligas [27]. The fruit of Indian Gooseberry tree is not only serves as a livelihood source for local people but also as an important dietary component for wild animals during the lean season [41, 42, 43]. As a result around 17% of amla sapling stems are re-sprouts in the study area. As in Ref. [44], fire and grazing in BRT could be the drivers of the high proportion of re-sprout as part of the demography.

The study result shows that vegetation diversity decreased with increase in fuelwood collection (in tree class), livestock grazing and invasive species (in non-tree class). Subsequently it will severely affect not only the plant community structure and regeneration [45, 46] but also habitat quality of the landscape [24], genetic structure of NTFPs at population level [47] and increment of woody vegetation [48]. Lantana camara is affecting native vegetation mainly of herbaceous class and shrub species, and is responsible for significant reduction in species richness and diversity [49]. As in Ref. [50] the study result from BRT forest showed that Lantana camara is the major driver impacting the demographic pattern of species such as P. emblica and P. indofischeri. This could be due to poor survival of light demanding seedlings of native tropical dry forest species under the conditions of high Lantana camara abundance and shade [51]. If the present scenario continues for a long period of time, it will gradually reduce forest regeneration rates and thus lead to impaired sustainability of the corridors [49, 52, 53].

4.1. Prioritized plant species for eco-restoration: a socio-ecological approach

Globally, conceptual models for restoration of biodiversity have highlighted the importance of regional plant source pool and framework species in restoration [54, 55, 56]. Regional plant species are more important for eco-restoration, because the type of forest occurring naturally in a place is the result of climatic, edaphic, topographic, and biotic factors of the locality [22, 23].

Out of 92 tree species, 10 species contribute 52% of the total IVI of the corridor landscape. Among the 10 species Anogeissus latifolia, Canthium travancoricum, Erythroxylon monogynum and Ixora arborea are the top five species which have been exploited for fuelwood. People prefer these trees as firewood due to their calorific value, ease of carrying as headload, and frequency of availability. Though species such as Cassia spectabilis and Eucalyptus sp. could form good fuelwood and timber trees respectively they are not collected by people as they are planted by the Forest Department. Some of the other tree species with high IVI in this landscape are not preferred either as fuelwood species or as domestic timber requirements due to multiple reasons. For instance, Chloroxylon swietenia, Acacia chundra, and Strychnos potatorum are tree species with thick/rough bark and are uncomfortable to carry as headload. Similarly Diospyros montana is not harvested for fuelwood because of the belief that doing so could splinter the family by inciting fights between family members. Similarly, people believe that Terminalia bellerica is one of the sacred trees in the landscape and belongs to the god Shani Devaru, (a local deity regarded as an incarnation of Shiva). Hence, we have shortlisted Anogeissus latifolia as a dominant and firewood tree species, and Terminalia crenulata, Dalbergia lanceolaria and Albizia odoratissima as timber tree species for vegetation enrichment. Since Phyllanthus indofischeri and Terminalia bellerica are major NTFP species that serve as a source of livelihood for local people [41] and also form part of the dietary requirement for ungulates during the lean season, people generally do not cut these trees for fuelwood. So, we have shortlisted these two species also for vegetation enrichment. Since honey is a major NTFP in this landscape, people suggested the planting of one nectar yielding tree species for honey bees in the landscape such as Pterocarpus marsupium. In addition to these, Acacia chundra, Hardwickia binata and Bambusa arundinacea were identified and shortlisted as important plant sources of elephant’s food in the landscape [33, 34, 35].

Ten suitable native plant species were identified for vegetation enrichment based on their Important Value Index, ecological importance and recommendation by the community. Our research prioritized similar plant species for restoration such as Anogeissus latifolia (dominant tree and source of firewood), Terminalia crenulata, Dalbergia lanceolaria and Albizia odoratissima (timber trees), Phyllanthus indofischeri and Terminalia bellirica (NTFP trees), Pterocarpus marsupium (nectar source for honey bees), Acacia chundra, Hardwickia binata and Bambusa arundinacea (elephant food plants).

4.2. Species selected for clonal propagation

The plant species such as Bambusa aurindinacea, Tectona grandis, Gmelina arborea and Dalbergia sissoo in the corridor landscape may have the capability to propagate through clonal methods. Clonally propagated species (CPS) have the capacity to tolerate adverse conditions and give significantly better growth rates, and better disease resistance with most desirable timber traits [57]. In addition to this, clonal propagation trait not only could persist and maintain species richness but also retain genetic diversity of the species in the forests even after experiencing disturbance in the form of forest fire, grazing, and harvesting pressure from fuelwood collection [58, 59]. Since clonal propagation of dry tropical forest trees influence the tree species composition and demography, we suggested planting CPS, including bamboo along the forest boundary and teak in the farmland of the study area.

4.3. Nursing plants

Most of the forest landscapes in BRT have been subjected to different kinds of forest management practices such as shifting cultivation, logging, monoculture plantation, etc., both by the indigenous community and the State Forest Department in the past. This makes it more complex when it comes to understanding the structure, composition and successional status of native species [24, 25]. However, in eco-restoration, in order to improve the performance of target species, the “nursing” procedure seems to be promising, and shows enhanced plant survival and growth [18]. Therefore, in the same landscape, two native species, Pterolobium hexapetalum and Dodonaea viscosa were identified. These could play the role of nursing plants as they cover the native shrub and sapling communities extensively in more open forested areas. Being a prickly straggler, Pterolobium hexapetalum is not grazed by cattle and other ungulates. Likewise, Dodonaea viscosa, a bushy plant, is a pioneer species that is not eaten by cattle or other ungulates. Based on our field observations, we believe that these two native plants P. hexapetalum and D. viscosa could play the role of nursing by protecting seedlings from grazing and browsing, and influence the regeneration of tree seedlings and saplings.

5. Conclusion

In a human-dominated forest landscape like BRT, corridors have been subjected to severe anthropogenic disturbances and poor management. Fuelwood collection and livestock grazing coupled with invasive species Lantana camara have affected the vegetation dynamics of the corridor landscape. This will indirectly affect not only the dependent animal community but also the livelihoods of local people at some point in the same landscape. Our study has provided base line information on composition and size of the regional plant species pool, and also selected 10 native plant species for vegetation enrichment as part of eco-restoration in the corridor. Active and large scale Lantana camara removal coupled with enrichment planting activity needs to be initiated in and around the corridors to improve the habitat quality of the corridor landscape. Exploring the possibilities of using native shrub plants such as Pterolobium hexapetalum and Dodonaea viscosa as nursing plants to promote the survival rate of saplings of tree species could be one of the strategies. Convergence in the form of collaboration with local community, local institutions, local stakeholders, civil society, government and non-government research organizations is essential for improved protection and sustainable management of these important corridors. Such collaboration may help to increase the likelihood of persistence of animal populations by providing functional connectivity between the fragments. In fact the local community showed interest in establishing decentralized nurseries in the landscape to raise the selected plant species on incentive basis in collaboration with the Forest Department and the Village Panchayat. At a time of unprecedent habitat destruction, this could promote not only local participation and co-management of the wildlife corridor in a human-dominated forest landscape but also contribute toward ‘UN-REDD Programme Strategic Framework’ which is aiming to enhance carbon stocks in degraded forests [60].


We acknowledge financial support received from USAID India (AID-386 A-14-00011) and research permission from the Karnataka State Forest Department to carry out field work.


Appendix A. IVI of tree species in the corridor landscape of Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve

Sl. no.Botanical nameFamilyRelative densityRelative frequencyRelative basal areaIVI
1Chloroxylon swieteniaRutaceae17.216.139.5532.89
2Anogeissus latifoliaCombretaceae13.085.6312.0130.72
3Erythroxylon monogynumErythroxylaceae14.586.267.9328.76
4Acacia chundraMimosaceae4.864.382.6511.89
5Dalbergia lanceolariaFabaceae2.743.635.1111.48
6Strychnos potatorumStrychnaceae4.023.383.1710.57
7Naringi crenulataRutaceae3.
8Diospyros montanaEbenaceae2.454.131.778.35
9Ixora arboreaRubiaceae2.673.751.327.74
10Canthium travancoricumRubiaceae2.923.001.787.70
11Randia dumetorumRubiaceae2.523.250.916.69
12Dalbergia latifoliaFabaceae0.470.755.256.47
13Atlantia monophyllaRutaceae2.672.630.926.21
14Acacia leucophleaMimosaceae0.620.634.355.60
15Lantana camaraVerbenaceae0.662.252.395.30
16Diospyros melanoxylonEbenaceae1.572.630.504.70
17Ziziphus oenopliaRhamnaceae1.942.380.384.70
18Prosopis cinerariaFabaceae0.441.002.644.08
19Albizia amaraFabaceae0.691.501.844.04
20Stereospermum personatumBignoniaceae0.551.501.423.47
21Cassine glaucaCelastraceae1.061.630.713.39
22Cassia fistulaCaesalpinaceae0.912.130.313.36
23Premna tometosaVerbenaceae0.691.630.973.30
24Phyllanthus indofischeriEuphorbiaceae0.691.630.953.28
25Bambusa arundinaceaPoaceae1.240.631.333.20
26Grewia tiliifoliaTiliaceae0.991.750.393.12
27Ferronia elephantumRutaceae0.441.251.242.93
28Bauhinia purpureaFabaceae0.150.252.512.91
29Albizia odoratissimaFabaceae0.150.502.212.86
30Vitex altissimaVerbenaceae0.551.380.882.80
31Diospyros sp.Ebenaceae0.
32Morinda tinctoriaRubiaceae0.621.130.782.53
33Canthium parviflorumRubiaceae0.801.500.212.51
34Maytenus emarginataCelastraceae0.801.380.292.47
35Ziziphus xylopyrusRhamnaceae0.841.250.362.45
36Dolichandrone falcataBignoniaceae1.060.880.152.08
37Gmelina arboreaVerbenaceae0.150.501.131.78
38Aglaia odoratissimaMeliaceae0.370.880.451.69
39Dodonaea viscosaSapindaceae0.690.880.101.67
40Commiphora caudataBurseraceae0.260.630.771.65
41Hardwickia binataCaesalpinaceae0.
42Pterocarpus marsupiumFabaceae0.180.630.701.51
43Schleichera oleosaSapindaceae0.040.131.301.47
45Garuga pinnataMeliaceae0.
46Terminalia paniculataCombretaceae0.330.630.421.37
47Celtis tetrandraUlmaceae0.110.250.991.35
48Haldina cordifoliaRubiaceae0.110.380.811.30
49Acacia sinuataMimosaceae0.770.380.121.26
50Flacourtia montanaFlacourtiaceae0.220.250.631.10
51Terminalia belliricaCombretaceae0.070.250.711.03
52Ficus sp.Moraceae0.220.250.551.02
53Terminalia chebulaCombretaceae0.260.630.100.99
54Gmelina asiaticaVerbenaceae0.290.630.060.97
55Boswellia serrataBurseraceae0.290.380.270.94
56Pterolobium hexapetalumCaesalpinaceae0.260.630.050.93
57Caralluma umbellataAsclepiadaceae0.370.380.180.92
58Azadirachta indiaMeliaceae0.220.500.130.85
59Capparis seperariaCapparaceae0.180.500.150.84
60Acacia niloticaFabaceae0.180.130.530.84
61Ziziphus jujubaRhamnaceae0.180.250.360.79
62Cadaba fruticosaCapparaceae0.110.380.280.76
63Santalum albumSantalaceae0.220.500.030.75
64Spondias pinnataAnacardiaceae0.040.130.590.75
65Holarrhena antidycentericaApocynaceae0.150.500.060.71
66Butea monospermaFabaceae0.110.380.210.70
67Pongamia pinnataFabaceae0.110.250.310.67
68Acacia sp.Mimosaceae0.070.250.340.66
69Dendrocalamas sp.Poaceae0.260.380.030.66
70Flacourtia indicaFlacourtiaceae0.220.380.030.63
71Gardenia gammiferaRubiaceae0.110.380.120.60
72Anacardium occidentaleAnacardiaceae0.040.130.420.58
73Strychnos sp.Strychnaceae0.
74Cleistanthus sp.Phyllanthaceae0.110.380.080.57
75Wrightia tinctoriaApocynaceae0.110.380.070.55
76Bridelia retusaEuphorbiaceae0.110.380.060.55
77Terminalia crenulataCombretaceae0.
78Memecylon umbellatumMelastomataceae0.
79Bombax ciebaBombacaceae0.
80Tamarindus indiacaFabaceae0.
81Carissa carandasApocynaceae0.
82Celastrus paniculataCelastraceae0.
84Erythrina variegataFabaceae0.
86Mallotus philippensisEuphorbiaceae0.
87Lagerstromia parvifloraLythraceae0.
88Grewia asiaticaTiliaceae0.
89Pyrenacantha volubilusIcacinaceae0.
90Chionanthus malabaricusOlacaceae0.
91Cocculus sp.Menispermaceae0.
92Syzygium cuminiiMyrtaceae0.

Appendix B. IVI of shrub species (includes saplings of woody plants) in the corridor landscape of Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve. ‘Relative basal area’ will not be considered for non-tree species

Sl. no.Botanical nameFamilyRelative densityRelative frequencyIVI
1Lantana camaraVerbenaceae51.6013.0064.60
2Pterolobium hexapetalumCaesalpinaceae5.877.3313.20
3Dodonia viscosaSapindaceae6.585.3311.92
4Randia dumetorumRubiaceae3.905.789.68
5Chloroxylon swieteniaRutaceae3.096.449.54
6Erythroxylon monogynumErythroxylaceae2.075.567.63
7Ziziphus oenopliaRhamnaceae2.185.337.52
8Fluggea leucopyrusPhyllanthaceae1.774.115.88
9Eupatorium odoratumAsteraceae4.201.445.65
10Dolichandrone falcataBignoniaceae2.363.115.47
11Pavetta indicaRubiaceae2.332.785.10
12Toddalia asiaticaRutaceae1.363.004.36
13Atlantia monophyllaRutaceae1.292.333.62
14Acacia sinuataMimosaceae1.322.223.55
15Naringi crenulataRutaceae1.322.113.43
16Diospyros montanaEbenaceae0.592.673.26
17Canthium travancoricumRubiaceae0.732.002.73
18Anogeissus latifoliaCombretaceae0.701.562.25
19Bambusa arundinaceaPoaceae0.451.331.78
20Ixora arboreaRubiaceae0.451.221.67
21Flacourtia montanaFlacourtiaceae0.501.111.61
22Acacia chundraMimosaceae0.361.221.58
23Strychnos potatorumStrychnaceae0.391.111.50
24Cassia fistulaCaesalpinaceae0.251.221.47
25Albizia amaraFabaceae0.271.111.38
26Grewia tiliifoliaTiliaceae0.231.001.23
27Santalum albumSantalaceae0.210.891.10
28Capparis seperariaCapparaceae0.250.781.03
29Wrightia tinctoriaApocynaceae0.200.780.97
30Grewia asiaticaTiliaceae0.250.670.92
31Canthium parviflorumRubiaceae0.230.670.90
32Diospyros melanoxylonEbenaceae0.160.670.83
33Jasminum roxberghianumOleaceae0.230.440.68
34Cipadessa bacciferaMeliaceae0.200.440.64
35Maytenus emarginataCelastraceae0.130.440.57
36Dalbergia lanceolariaFabaceae0.090.440.53
37Argyreia cuneataConvolvulaceae0.070.440.52
38Memecylon umbellatumMelastomataceae0.140.330.48
39Flacourtia indicaFlacourtiaceae0.130.330.46
40Ferronia elephantumRutaceae0.070.330.40
41Acacia leucophleaMimosaceae0.050.330.39
42Carissa carandasApocynaceae0.050.330.39
43Diospyros sp.Ebenaceae0.050.330.39
44Premna tometosaVerbenaceae0.050.330.39
45Stereospermum personatumBignoniaceae0.050.330.39
46Solanum torvumSolanaceae0.090.220.31
47Azadirachta indiaMeliaceae0.050.220.28
48Caralluma umbellataAsclepiadaceae0.050.220.28
49Cassine glaucaCelastraceae0.050.220.28
50Maesa indicaMyrsinaceae0.050.220.28
51Prosopis cinerariaFabaceae0.050.220.28
52Albizia odoratissimaFabaceae0.040.220.26
53Celastrus paniculataCelastraceae0.040.220.26
54Cycas sp.Cycadaceae0.040.220.26
55Gardenia gammiferaRubiaceae0.040.220.26
56Holarrhena antidycentericaApocynaceae0.040.220.26
57Jasminum sp.Oleaceae0.040.220.26
58Opuntia elatiorCactaceae0.040.220.26
59Phyllanthus emblicaEuphorbiaceae0.040.220.26
60Senna auriculataFabaceae0.040.220.26
61Tectona grandisVerbenaceae0.040.220.26
62Vitex altissimaVerbenaceae0.040.220.26
63Barleria sp.Acanthaceae0.140.110.25
64Phoenix loureiriiArecaceae0.110.110.22
65Aglaia odoratissimaMeliaceae0.020.110.13
66Cocculus sp.Menispermaceae0.020.110.13
67Decalepis hamiltoniiApocynaceae0.020.110.13
68Dendrocalamas sp.Poaceae0.020.110.13
69Givotia rottlerformisEuphorbiaceae0.020.110.13
70Hardwickia binataCaesalpinaceae0.020.110.13
71Jasminum angustifoliumOleaceae0.020.110.13
72Lagerstromia parvifloraLythraceae0.020.110.13
73Pyrenacantha volubilusIcacinaceae0.020.110.13
74Ximenia americanaOlacaceae0.020.110.13
75Ziziphus xylopyrusRhamnaceae0.020.110.13

Appendix C. IVI of herbaceous species (includes seedlings of woody plants) in the corridor landscape of Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Tiger Reserve. ‘Relative basal area’ will not be considered for non-tree species

Sl. no.Botanical nameFamilyRelative densityRelative frequencyIVI
1Leucas martinicensisLamiaceae12.754.0616.81
2Oxalis corniculataOxalidaceae8.413.9912.40
3Eupatorium odoratumAsteraceae6.964.0311.00
4Lantana camaraVerbenaceae5.325.6410.96
5Evolvulus alsinoidesConvolvulaceae3.152.525.68
6Atylosia sp.Fabaceae2.052.544.59
7Randia dumetorumRubiaceae1.792.774.57
8Justicia simplexAcanthaceae2.331.764.10
9Crotalaria calycinaFabaceae2.141.833.98
10Ziziphus oenopliaRhamnaceae1.402.363.76
11Sida acutaMalvaceae2.331.333.66
12Ipomoea sp.Convolvulaceae1.462.063.52
13Phyllanthus amarusEuphorbiaceae1.292.223.51
14Atylosia lineataFabaceae2.431.053.48
15Urena lobataMalvaceae1.461.673.14
16Anogeissus latifoliaCombretaceae0.842.183.02
17Desmodiastrum racemosumFabaceae1.301.542.84
18Jasmium angustifoliumOleaceae1.171.492.66
19Barleria prionitisAcanthaceae1.391.242.63
20Fluggea leucopyrusPhyllanthaceae0.751.832.59
21Pterolobium hexapetalumCaesalpinaceae0.811.722.53
22Cynotis arachnoideaCommelinaceae1.151.312.46
23Triumfetta rhomboideaTiliaceae1.271.082.35
24Achyranthes asperaVerbenaceae1.231.082.30
25Curculigo orchioidesHypoxidaceae0.761.492.25
26Grewia asiaticaTiliaceae0.741.442.18
27Jasminum roxberghianumOleaceae0.931.172.10
28Acacia chundraMimosaceae0.611.472.08
29Rhynchosia viscosaFabaceae1.150.922.07
30Euphorbia hirtaEuphorbiaceae1.020.961.98
31Ocimum americanumLamiaceae0.960.961.93
32Hemedesmus indicusApocynaceae0.801.101.90
33Gymnema sylvestreAsclepiadaceae0.970.871.84
34Leucas asperaLamiaceae1.210.601.80
35Dolichandrone falcataBignoniaceae0.691.081.77
36Dodonia viscosaSapindaceae0.561.191.75
37Anaphalis subdecurrenseAsteraceae0.581.101.68
38Scilla sp.Asparagaceae0.601.081.68
39Galactia tenuifloraFabaceae0.860.801.66
40Chloroxylon swieteniaRutaceae0.571.011.58
41Senna auriculataFabaceae0.790.711.50
42Abutilon sp.Malvaceae0.740.761.49
43Diospyros montanaEbenaceae0.431.031.46
44Indigofera sp.Fabaceae0.990.461.45
45Acacia sinuataMimosaceae0.610.831.43
46Senna occidenatlisFabaceae0.750.661.41
47Orthosiphon rubicundusLamiaceae0.590.781.37
48Toddalia asiaticaRutaceae0.410.941.35
49Ixora arboreaRubiaceae0.410.941.35
50Crepis sp.Asteraceae0.940.251.19
51Barleria buxifoliaAcanthaceae0.370.731.10
52Stachytarpheta indiaVerbenaceae0.600.501.10
53Asparagas gonocladusAsparagaceae0.270.781.05
54Stenosiphonium russelianiumAcanthaceae0.510.531.03
55Bidens sp.Asteraceae0.430.601.03
56Cissampelos pareiraMenispermaceae0.340.661.00
57Ageratum conyzoidesAsteraceae0.710.250.96
58Cynotis sp.Commelinaceae0.570.390.96
59Erythroxylon monogynumErythroxylaceae0.240.660.90
60Prosopis cinerariaFabaceae0.310.550.86
61Pavetta indicaRubiaceae0.250.600.84
62Andrographis serpyllifoliaAcanthaceae0.350.460.80
63Atlantia monophyllaRutaceae0.290.500.79
64Dalbergia lanceolariaFabaceae0.270.500.78
65Hyptis suaveolensLamiaceae0.510.250.76
66Mimosa pudicaMimosaceae0.410.340.76
67Sida rhombifoliaMalvaceae0.310.410.72
68Dalbergia latifoliaFabaceae0.240.480.72
69Maytenus emarginataCelastraceae0.260.460.72
70Senna sp.Fabaceae0.390.250.64
71Pteridium sp.Dennstaedtiaceae0.560.070.63
72Albizia amaraFabaceae0.160.460.62
73Bidens barbidensAsteraceae0.270.300.57
74Indigofera tinctoriaFabaceae0.190.370.56
75Parthenium hysterophorusAsteraceae0.220.300.52
76Canthium parviflorumRubiaceae0.150.340.50
77Artemisia pallensAsteraceae0.260.230.49
78Albizia odoratissimaFabaceae0.150.300.45
79Croton sp.Euphorbiaceae0.100.340.44
80Leucas sp.Lamiaceae0.230.210.44
81Cipadessa bacciferaMeliaceae0.180.250.43
82Eradale gida*Fabaceae0.240.180.43
83Mimosa sp.Mimosaceae0.200.230.43
84Naringi crenulataRutaceae0.100.320.42
85Strobilanthes callosaAcanthaceae0.270.110.39
86Malva sp.Malvaceae0.200.180.38
87Phyllanthus indofischeriEuphorbiaceae0.120.250.38
88Solanum torvumSolanaceae0.140.210.35
89Theriophonum sp.Araceae0.150.180.33
90Cocculus sp.Menispermaceae0.100.230.33
91Azima tetracanthaSalvadoraceae0.070.230.30
92Strychnos potatorumStrychnaceae0.090.210.30
93Ocimum sp.Lamiaceae0.250.050.30
94Stylosanthus sp.Fabaceae0.110.180.29
95Pogostemon sp.Lamiaceae0.080.210.29
96Abutilon hirtumMalvaceae0.150.140.29
97Strychnos sp.Strychnaceae0.060.230.29
98Cynanchum tunicatumAsclepiadaceae0.080.210.28
99Jasminum sp.Oleaceae0.130.140.27
100Pyrenacantha volubilusIcacinaceae0.120.140.26
101Crotalaria sp.Fabaceae0.110.140.25
102Ziziphus xylopyrusRhamnaceae0.060.180.25
103Santalum albumSantalaceae0.090.140.23
104Flacourtia montanaFlacourtiaceae0.070.160.23
105Lantana indicaVerbenaceae0.060.160.22
106Diospyros melanoxylonEbenaceae0.060.160.22
107Sida sp.Malvaceae0.090.110.20
108Ferronia yesphantumRutaceae0.060.140.19
109Dioscorea oppositifoliaDioscoreaceae0.050.140.19
110Sansevieria trifasciataAsparagaceae0.070.110.19
111Ceropegia sp.Apocynaceae0.060.110.17
113Helicteres isoraMalvaceae0.040.110.15
114Pterocarpus marsupiumFabaceae0.040.110.15
115Plectranthus amboinicusLamiaceae0.100.050.15
116Barleria sp.Acanthaceae0.060.090.15
117Hardwickia binataFabaceae0.030.110.15
118Maesa indicaMyrsinaceae0.050.090.14
119Asaparagus racemosusAsparagaceae0.030.110.14
120Mallotus philippensisEuphorbiaceae0.030.110.14
121Stereospermum personatumBignoniaceae0.030.110.14
122Rauvolfia serpentinaApocynaceae0.090.050.14
123Bambusa arundinaceaPoaceae0.050.090.14
124Ocimum tenuiflorumLamiaceae0.050.090.14
125Schleichera oleosaSapindaceae0.040.090.13
126Nela bhuthale*Unidentified0.080.050.13
127Cryptolepis buchnaniAsclepiadaceae0.040.090.13
128Memecylon umbellatumMelastomataceae0.030.090.12
129Nicandra physalodesSolanaceae0.050.070.12
130Padavara baale*Unidentified0.030.090.12
131Cassia fistulaCaesalpinaceae0.020.090.11
132Wrightia tinctoriaApocynaceae0.020.090.11
133Celastrus paniculataCelastraceae0.050.050.10
134Canthium travancoricumRubiaceae0.020.070.09
135Diospyros sp.Ebenaceae0.020.070.09
136Argyreia cuneataConvolvulaceae0.020.070.08
137Breynia retusaEuphorbiaceae0.020.070.08
138Dioscorea sp.Dioscoreaceae0.020.070.08
139Flacourtia indicaFlacourtiaceae0.020.070.08
140Gardenia gammiferaRubiaceae0.020.070.08
141Actiniopteris radiataPteridaceae0.030.050.07
142Tephrosia sp.Fabaceae0.030.050.07
143Vitex altissimaVerbenaceae0.030.050.07
144Caralluma umbellataAsclepiadaceae0.020.050.07
145Cleistanthus sp.Phyllanthaceae0.020.050.06
146Coccinia grandisCucurbitaceae0.020.050.06
147Elaeagnus confertaElaeagnaceae0.020.050.06
148Holarrhena antidycentericaApocynaceae0.020.050.06
149Phyllanthus virgatusEuphorbiaceae0.020.050.06
150Acacia sp.Mimosaceae0.010.050.06
151Argyreia cymosaConvolvulaceae0.010.050.06
152Azadirachta indiaMeliaceae0.010.050.06
153Millettia racemosaFabaceae0.010.050.06
155Terminalia belliricaCombretaceae0.010.050.06
156Terminalia crenulataCombretaceae0.010.050.06
157Nada kappali*Unidentified0.030.020.05
158Carissa carandasapocynaceae0.020.020.04
159Celtis tetrandraUlmaceae0.020.020.04
160Gmelina arboreaVerbenaceae0.020.020.04
161Acanthus sp.Acanthaceae0.010.020.03
162Arda chandra*Unidentified0.010.020.03
163Eucalyptus globulusMyrtaceae0.010.020.03
164Physalis minimaSolanaceae0.010.020.03
165Ximenia americanaOlacaceae0.010.020.03
166Antu huruligida*Unidentified0.010.020.03
167Antu pulle*Unidentified0.010.020.03
168Bombax ciebaBombacaceae0.010.020.03
169Canthium sp.Rubiaceae0.010.020.03
170Casearia tomentosaSalicaceae0.010.020.03
171Cassine glaucaCelastraceae0.010.020.03
172Dendrocalamas sp.Poaceae0.010.020.03
173Gloriosa superbaColchicaceae0.010.020.03
174Hambu bhuthale*Unidentified0.010.020.03
175Hittina kudi*Unidentified0.010.020.03
176Huriyana hambu*Unidentified0.010.020.03
177Lamium sp.Lamiaceae0.010.020.03
178Maathadakana hambu*Unidentified0.010.020.03
179Morinda tinctoriaRubiaceae0.010.020.03
180Nela gorava*Unidentified0.010.020.03
181Premna tometosaVerbenaceae0.010.020.03
182Sanna javana*Lamiaceae0.010.020.03
183Syzygium cuminiiMyrtaceae0.010.020.03
184Tectona grandisVerbenaceae0.010.020.03
185Ziziphus jujubaRhamnaceae0.010.020.03

Note: The botanical names of the * marked plant species were unidentified, instead the Soliga vernacular names were given.


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