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Cross-taxon surrogacy of biodiversity in the Indian Garhwal Himalaya

Cross-taxon surrogacy of biodiversity in the Indian Garhwal Himalaya

Biological Conservation e; 105(2): 143-155

DOI: 10.1016/s0006-3207(01)00158-6

Biodiversity surveys were conducted in 13, 10[x]50 m2 plots located between 1400 to 3700 m above mean sea level in a range of habitats in temperate mixed Oak and Coniferous forests through sub-alpine to the alpine grasslands in Chamoli district of Uttaranchal state in the Indian Garhwal Himalaya. Cross-taxon congruence in biodiversity ([alpha]-diversity and [beta]-diversity) across macrolichens, mosses, liverworts, woody plants (shrubs and trees) and ants was investigated, so as to examine the extent to which these groups of organisms can function as surrogates for each other. Although woody plants provided a major substrate for macrolichens and mosses, there was no species-specific association between them. Woody plant species richness was highly positively correlated with mosses (r2 = 0.63, P [<] 0.001), but the relationship was not particularly very strong with lichens and liverworts. While there was a significant correlation in the species turnover ([beta]-diversity) of macrolichens with mosses (r2 = 0.21, P [<] 0.005), the relationship was relatively poor with the woody plants. On the other hand, negative correlations emerged in the species richness of ants with those of macrolichens, mosses and woody plants (r2 = -0.44, P [<] 0.05), but most of the complementarity (turnover) relationships among them were positive. Since diversity between taxonomic hierarchies within the group was consistently significantly positively correlated in all these taxa, the higher taxonomic categories such as genus and family may be employed as surrogates for rapid assessment and monitoring of species diversity. Although no single group other than macrolichens has emerged as a good indicator of changes in species richness in all other groups, some concordant relationships between them conform to the hypothesis that species assemblages of certain taxonomic groups could still be used as surrogates for efficient monitoring of species diversity in other groups whose distribution may further predict the importance of conserving overall biodiversity in landscapes such as the Garhwal Himalaya.

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