India’s plant diversity database at landscape level on geospatial platform: prospects and utility in today’s changing climate
biodiversity characterization, landscaping analysis, Remote sensing, spatial database
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.