Regeneration dynamics, population structure, and forest composition in some ridge forests of the Western Himalaya, India.
The present study aimed to analyze the regeneration dynamics, population structure, and forest composition in some ridge forests of the Western Himalaya to elucidate the impact of climate change. The highest species richness (trees, 17; saplings, 16; seedlings, 16) was recorded in mixed Rhododendron arboreum forest. The maximum tree density (737±25.93 trees ha-1; mixed Quercus floribunda); sapling density (5342±587.54 saplings ha-1; mixed Quercus semecarpifolia), and seedling density (71,429±26,632.29 seedlings ha-1; mixed Cedrus deodara) were recorded in forests of higher altitudes. The mean basal cover values in these forests oscillated between 39.21±1.53 m2 ha-1 (mixed Quercus leucotrichophora) to 87.65±15.45 m2 ha-1 (mixed Abies pindrow). The highest Shannon index value (0.51±0.05) and species evenness (0.36±0.02) for trees were recorded in mixed Rhododendron arboreum forest. Some species like Betula utilis, Myrica esculenta, Ficus rumphii, Ilex dipyrena, Quercus floribunda, Litsea elongata, Symplocos paniculata, and Abies spectabilis were noticed as new recruiters (recent invaders) in new habitats, which may change the future forest composition. This study revealed that ridge forests of the Bhagirathi catchment area were in transition phase at middle altitudes. Mixed Quercus floribunda forest was observed to be the youngest regenerating forest; however, mixed Abies pindrow forest was the most mature old-growth forest.