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India’s plant diversity database at landscape level on geospatial platform: prospects and utility in today’s changing climate

P. S. Roy, Harish Karnatak, S.P.S. Kushwaha, A. Roy, S. Saran
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Journal Article
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Characterization, quantification and monitoring of biodiversity have been among the major challenges in biodiversity conservation. Until recently, spatial eco- logical database in India was almost non-existent. There is need of a robust and quality database of the biological diversity at species, community, ecosystem and landscape levels for identification of vulnerable ecosystems and risk species. In order to have a national level database on the spatial distribution of biological diversity, a nationwide project on the biodi- versity characterization at landscape level was imple- mented and studies were carried out between 1998 and 2010 to characterize and map the flowering plants richness in the forested landscapes. The spatial data- base on vegetation types generated from temporal IRS LISS-III satellite imagery, road/rail network and set- tlements from topomaps and high-resolution satellite images, and species richness from field sampling were used to generate the spatially explicit species distribution maps and statistics. To model the spatial distribu- tion of biological richness a customized software package, SPLAM has been developed for landscape analysis and spatial data integration. This study has resulted in the creation of a large baseline spatial database on vegetation types, porosity, patchiness, interspersion, juxtaposition, fragmentation, disturbance regimes, ecosystem uniqueness, terrain complexity and species richness. The field inventory involving 16,518 geo-referenced 0.04 ha plots across India has recorded a total of 7596 plant species. The geospatially tagged species database, created in the project, pro- vides information on the endemic, rare, endangered, threatened and economically/medicinally important species. The database has been shared with organizations including State Forest Departments, and has found extensive applications in policy planning, opera- tional management, biodiversity bio-prospecting and climate-change studies. conservation, bio-prospecting and climate-change studies.

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