How will forest fires impact the distribution of endemic plants in the Himalayan biodiversity hotspot?
Document Type: Journal
Author(s): Vishwas Sudhir Chitale ; Mukunda Dev Behera
Publication Year: 2019

Cataloging Information

  • climate change scenarios
  • fire frequency
  • fire intensity
  • Himalayas
  • India
  • MaxEnt
  • maximum entropy method
  • species distribution modeling
  • tree composition
  • wildfires
  • International
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 14, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 57464


Global warming is causing shifts in distribution of plants, leading to alterations in the native flora. In addition, increased intensity and frequency of wildfires is posing threats to Himalayan ecosystems. Modeling a species' ecological niche and its potential distribution under projected impacts of climate change and distribution of wildfires provides an understanding of the behavior of native flora in altered climatic conditions. In this study, we predicted future distribution of four endemic tree species Pinus roxburghii, Quercus semecarpifolia, Rhododendron arboretum, and Cedrus deodara in western Himalaya under A1B scenario of Special Report on Emission Scenarios for 2030, 2050, and 2080, under two conditions: (i) without wildfire and (ii) with wildfire. We included wildfire occurrence as a predictor variable in the Maxent model along with 35 climate variables, to predict the future distribution of four indicator species. As per the predictions, there will be a significant reduction in the geographic distribution of the indicator species under the 'with wildfire' scenario as compared to the 'without wildfire' scenario. The future distribution range was shifted towards the northern and north-eastern regions of our study area owing to higher moisture availability. We predicted reduction in the range of C. deodara during 2030, R. arboreum during 2050, and P. roxburghii during 2080, while the distribution of Q. semecarpifolia remained unchanged. Our modeling predicted that climate change could induce reduction, expansion, and shift in the distributions of endemic plant species, which could lead to alteration in the endemic flora of the Himalayas.

Online Link(s):
Chitale, Vishwas Sudhir; Behera, Mukunda Dev. 2019. How will forest fires impact the distribution of endemic plants in the Himalayan biodiversity hotspot? Biodiversity and Conservation 28(8-9):2259-2273.