Micro-site conditions of epiphytic orchids in a human impact gradient in Kathmandu valley, Nepal

Yagya Prasad Adhikari, Anton Fischer, Hagen Siegfried Fischer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

We studied distribution and site conditions of epiphytic orchids in a gradient of human interference in Kathmandu valley, central Nepal. The aim was to understand the recent distribution pattern of epiphytic orchids, with respect to (i) the micro-site conditions and (ii) the type and intensity of land use. The occurrence of epiphytic orchids was recorded for a grid with 1. 5 km cell size. The cells represent different types and intensities of human impact. Site factors such as bark rugosity, bark pH, diameter at breast height (dbh; 1. 3 m) of host trees, exposure to wind and sunlight intensity were recorded. With regard to the species richness and abundance of epiphytic orchids, we compared different human impact categories from very strong human impact (settlement area) to very low human impact (national park). Remote sensing was used for a supervised classification of land cover. Ficus religiosa turned out to be the most important host species for orchids in urban areas, while Schima wallichii and Alnus nepalensis significantly host orchids in the other categories. Both species richness and abundance of epiphytic orchids were significantly higher under very low human impact (forest in national park) and also some remaining patches of primary forest than the other regions. Micro-climate is crucial for orchid populations. Host bark pH, bark rugosity, sunlight intensity and host exposure were significantly different for all human impact categories in order to harbour epiphytic orchid species. Habitats with a mixture of mature trees are suitable and essential for the conservation of viable populations of epiphytic orchids in settled areas. The study reveals that to improve the population size of orchids it is essential for future urban forestry to: (i) Protect old trees as carriers of existing epiphytic orchid diversity, (ii) protect medium old trees to ensure that they may become old trees, (iii) plant new host trees for the future, (iv) plant in groups instead of single isolate trees. Trees should especially be planted in areas where orchids still exist to provide more trees for orchid population enlargement (e. g. along riparian system). Native species should be favoured; the pool of such native host species is wide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-342
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Mountain Science
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Keywords

  • Conservation
  • Epiphytic orchids
  • Host tree
  • Human impact
  • Micro-climate
  • Nepal
  • Remote sensing

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