Floristic structure and diversity of a tropical montane evergreen forest (shola) of the Nilgiri Mountains southern India
Mohandass D; Davidar P
Abstract: We inventoried plants (‚â• 1 cm diameter at breast height) in 19 montane evergreen forests (sholas) of total area 11.5 ha in the upper plateau (‚âà 2000 m asl) of the Nilgiri Mountains in southern India. All plants meeting the size criterion were inventoried in sholas ‚â§1.26 ha whereas in sholas >1.26 ha randomly laid 30vó30 m (0.09 ha) plots were used. A total of 30495 individuals from 87 species 65 genera and 42 families were recorded. Of these 57 species of trees 13 lianas 12 shrubs and 5 large herbs were recorded. Species diversity as measured by Fisher‚Äôs alpha was 11 stem density was 2652 stems ha-1 and basal area 59.4 m2 ha-1. Most species (67 : 77%) were common (densities > 1 stem ha-1) and widely distributed (36 : 41%) among sholas. The Nilgiri sholas shared 34 (47%) species with Kukkal shola located in the Palni hills 150 km south of the study site. This suggests a common biogeographical heritage. The unique shola forest is endangered and needs to be conserved on a priority basis.