Landscape level assessment of critically endangered vegetation of Lakshadweep islands using geo-spatial techniques.
The conservation of biodiversity is essential for human survival and quality of the environment. Lakshadweep islands are vulnerable to global change and the representing remnant natural vegetation. Landscape fragmentation, disturbance regimes and biological richness have been studied using geo-spatial techniques. Littoral vegetation is the only natural vegetation type of Lakshadweep islands. Altogether 59 patches of the littoral vegetation occupying an area of 137.2 ha were identified. 58.06% of the littoral vegetation patches belongs to the patch-size class of <5 ha. The remnant natural vegetation surviving with patches of less than 20 ha size indicates severe anthropogenic pressure. The fragmentation of littoral vegetation habitat into smaller isolated patches poses one of the key threats to biodiversity and coastal environment. Phytosociological observations revealed distinct plant communities and presence of invasive species in littoral vegetation. The high disturbance areas accounted for 59.11% area of the total vegetation. The overall spatial distribution of biological richness (BR) in Lakshadweep shows maximum BR at low level (78%), followed by medium (19%), high (2%) and very high (1%). The study emphasises the importance of conserving the remnant natural vegetation, which is critically endangered.