An Approach to Determine the Diversity and Conservation Status of Bryophytes in Northern Sindhupalchok District of Nepal Final report Submitted to Rufford Small Grant Foundation, uk nirmala Pradhan June, 2012 Summary



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1.10. Tourism


The cultural and natural diversity are the main attractions of this district adding extra attractions by Sunkoshi and Bhotekoshi which are famous for river rafting in the country. Bhairav Kunda and Panch Pokhari are popular trekking destination carrying religious and cultural important.
Due to scenic beauty, incredible landscape, diverse cultural and natural diversity, Panch Pokhari can be expected to attract many tourists of different interests. This all need good management especially the required physical facilities, camping areas, and trained guides. Many other interesting spots like Bhairab Kund, a popular high altitude lake is also located in this region at 4300 m. The next beautiful lake called Suraj Kund lies at the junction of Sindhupalchok, Nuwakot and Rasuwa districts.

Though under developing stage, this district still offers many preferable destinations to tourists both of the national and international standards. This study area has also been encompassed within the buffer zone of the Langtang National Park, a mid central Himalayan National Park of Nepal. Sindhupalchok is a potential district for rich biodiversity components which are displayed at different altitudinal pockets of the subtropics to the Himalayan bio-climatic zones.


Helambu which includes Malemchi Gaun and Tarkegyang is situated in higher region offers scenic meadows of considerable beauty. The word Helambu derives from the word Yolmo or Hyolmo who are the original residents of this region. Helambu is well known for Buddhist followers where Buddhist monasteries of high architectural values can be seen.



1.11. Local Efforts

Sindhupalchok Panch Pokhari Tourism Development and Management Committee (SPTDMC) a non profit Organization is supporting local peoples who are engaged to promote tourism in this place. This organization is located in Chautara, the head quarter of the district.
This organization envisions on sustainable development and management of rural tourism supporting human resource development, providing economic opportunities, empowerment of the local peoples that are the basic requirements for community development.
This organization assists in different sectors such as health, education, eco-tourism, social mobilisation and social empowerment. Besides the natural beauty, innumerable historical monuments, pilgrim sites and both the tangible and intangible tourism products do prevail in the district. Because of all these tourism products, it can proudly be said that tourism has high potential in the district. Some parts of the districts that fall within Helambu region are very popular for tourism activities as Langtang - Helambu area is ranked third tourism destination of Nepal. Some of the well known and highly possible tourism sites within the district are Helambu area, Tatopani, Ama Yangri, Bhote Koshi, Panch Pokhari, Duganagadi, etc.


  1. OBJECTIVES




  • To enumerate bryophyte species occurring at different altitudinal zones of the northern Sindhupalchok district of central Nepal.

  • To assess conservation status of the reported species including their threat factors.

  • To identify micro and mega fauna associated to bryophyte habitats.

  • To develop distribution map of bryophytes occurring at different study sites.

  • To gather information on traditional uses of this plant in the society.

  • To launch door to door awareness program to bring conservation participation of the local peoples and communities.




  1. METHODOLOGY


3.1. Study Area

Sindhupalchok occupies its position at 27°13’ N to 85° 27” to 86° 06’ E of Central Nepal. Presenting interesting ecological zones for flora and fauna, this district also provides popular destinations and routes for visiting tourists and trekkers from the country and abroad.


This is one of the midland districts covering an area of 2,542 Sq. km (981 sq. m). The geographical complexity has made this place less fertile so the agricultural yield is not enough to meet entire year sustenance. This district now is under the process of development where construction of the broad roads is underway that link hilly villages and wards to the town area.

The upper Bhote Koshi is one of the main sources of hydropower in the country. Many small scaled hydropower plants can also been in this district. Likewise Melamchi River which crosses

this district at Nagote, Timbu and different areas is a good source for potable water besides its use in irrigating farm lands. Certain percentage of this water is under the process of diversification to the Kathmandu City.
This study as proposed is confined to the northern belt of this district which is also linked to the Nuwakot and Bhaktapur to the south and northwest respectively. Phyto-geography of this district is more diverse corresponding to the changing landscape and variable climatic features.

T




Fig.1. Map showing the location of Study Sites
he highest range of elevation at 4300 m where this study was limited is connected to the First RSG Fund which was funded for the study of the biodiversity of Panch Pokhari, Sindhupalchok district of Central Nepal in 2008. This study which has encompassed many interesting bryofloral zones where diverse species of this plant with different conservation status have been reported. The interesting bryofloral species recorded from this northern Sindhupalchowk region are Cephaloziella massalongii, Conocephalum japonicum, Herbertus adunca, Trichocolea tomentaella, Bryum coronatum, Homalothecium nilgheriensis, Sphagnum junghuhnianum and Tayloria indica.

3.2. Research Sites

An extensive study was carried out at various potential sites. The study were made in three different phase. The first phase study were made in September to October, 2011 starting from Melamchi Bazar (850 m) to Timbu (1300 m), Kakani (2000 m), Tarkyghyang (2743 m), Shermathang (2520 m), Ghyangul (2420 m) and ended in Timbu (1250 m). The second phase study made in February, 2012 starting from Melamchi Bazar to Melamchi Gaon towards northwest of Sindhupalchowk. It covered Timbu (1250-1040 m), Ambathan (1400-1560 m), Doring (1700 m), Dhupyang (1780 m), Nagote (18000- 1940 m) and Melamchi Gaon (2100 m). The Humidity and temperature and a Quadrate at different potential sites were taken. Quadrate taken in Nagote has been given below in Table 2. The third phase study was made in June, 2012 for awareness program at Timbu (1350 m) gathering local peoples and school students of Sarkathali and at Doring villages.


This investigation also provided interesting findings on the faunal species which were found in associations to the bryophyte habitats at various bioclimatic zones.
3.3. Routes Followed

3.3.1. First Phase study

September 24, 2011: Kathmandu - Bus – Melamchi Bazar (850 m)

September 25, 2011: Melamchi - Timbu (1350 -1400 m)

September 26, 2011: Timbu - Kakani (2000 m)

September 27, 2011: Kakani - Tarkeghyang (2740 m)

September 28, 2011: Tarkeghyang – Helambu and periphery areas (3000 m)

September 29, 2011: Tarkeghyang – Ghyangul (2420 m)

September 30, 2011: Ghyangul - Shermathang (2520 m)

October 1, 2011: Shermathang - Timbu (1350 m)

October 2, 2011: Timbu - Melamchi (850 m)

October 3, 2011: Melamchi - Kathmandu (1300 m)


      1. Second Phase Study

February 18, 2012: Kathmandu - Bus – Melamchi Bazar (850 m)

February 19, 2012: Melamchi - Timbu (1350 -1400 m)

February 20, 2012: Timbu - Doring (1700 m)

February 21, 2012: Doring - Nagote (1820 m)

February 22, 2012: Nagote – Melamchi Gaun (2150 m)

February 23, 2012: Melamchi Gaun Ghayang Associated areas (2250 m)

February 24, 2012: Melamchi Gaun Nagote (2000 m)

February 25, 2012: Nagote - Doring (1700 m)

February 26, 2012: Doring - Timbu (1350 m)

February 27, 2012: Timbu - Kathmandu (1300 m)



      1. Third Phase Study

June 16, 2012: Kathmandu – Timbu (1350 m)

June 17, 2012: Timbu (Awareness program)

June18, 2012: Timbu – Doring (1700 m)

June 19, 2012: Doring ((Awareness program)

June 20, 2012: Doring – Timbu –Bus – Kathmandu


Legends:

Study sites

Triking routes

River



Fig.2. Study Route from Melamchi Bazar to Melamchi Gaon
3.4.Ecology

From ecological perspective, this district has interesting display of the diverse and rare faunal components. The notable species represented here are Barking Deer (Muntiacus muntijak), Musk Deer (Moschus chrysogaster), Common Leoprad (Panthera pardus), Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa), Leopard Cat (Felis bengalensis), Thar (Hemitragus jemlaihcus), Goral (Nemodhaedus goral), Himalayan Palm Civet (Paguma larvate), Sloth Beer (Malursus ursinus), Himalayam Beer (Selenarctos thibetanus), Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens), Pikas (Ochorona species). Procupine (Hystrix indica) and many rodent species.


Avian diversity is remarkable in this part that includes Danfe pheasant (Lophophorus impejanus), Monal Pheasant (Tragopan satyr), different pheasant species, Finches, Thrushes, Warblers, Choughs, Babblers, etc.
3.5. Enumeration of Bryophytes

Best effort was carried out to identify the observed species of bryophytes in the field. This was done with the help of magnifying hand lens and consulting books by Gangulee (1969-1980), Kashyap (1972), Chopra (1975), Eddy (1988, 1990, 1996), Smith (1996) and Long (2006). The collections were made using a pocket knife to scrape specimens from the substratums. The collected specimens were placed in paper packets to bring to the laboratory in Kathmandu in order to confirm their correct identification. The book by Brummitt and Powel (1992) was used to check the author citation. The process of identification is still continuing and the collected specimens were deposited at Natural History Museum, Tribhuivan University, Kathmandu.


3.6. Assessment of Conservation Status

The local status was determined on frequency basis in the field and IUCN Redlist has been consulted for the native status of the species collected in this study. Threat factors were determined by study and direct observation at different potential areas of this region. The list provided in Appendix I also include status of this species on native and local levels.




  1. RESULTS


4.1. Categorization of the Specimens

A total of 451 specimens had been collected from Northern Sindhupalchowk district, which were categorized into 75 genera and 141 species under 41 families and three classes. The class Anthocerotae included two genera and three species under the family Anthocerotaceae. The class Hepaticae included 23 genera and 50 species under 19 families and the class Musci with 50 genera and 88 species belonging to 21 families. Among the Hepaticae, the order Jungermanniales including an acrogynial-jungermannial is dominant with the records of 33 species under 13 families. The order Marchantiales records six species with dominant genera Asterella and Marchantia. Among the Music, the family Bryaceae is most dominant with the record of 18 species. Of the total species recorded, eleven species are new records for the country (Appendix II).


4.2. Vertical Distribution of Bryophytes from 1300-3000 m

The final phase of study was confined within the elevation of 1300 m to 3020 m where bryophytes of different status categories were recorded. The species diversity of bryophyte was found changing with the effect of altitudinal gradients representing rich diversity from 2000- 3000 meter whereas the mid elevation level accommodated less diversity of this flora.


Of the reported species, long range of distribution was shown by the species called Conocephalum conicum (L.) Underw. (Conocephalaceae). This species occurred in every pocket within the range of 1800-2600 m of elevations. Anthoceros punctatus L. (Anthocerotaceae) at the elevation of 1400-1700 meter was remarkably displayed, so was with Plagiochasma appendiculatum Lehm. & Lindb. (Aytoniaceae) at 1350 to 1400 m. Taxiphyllum taxirameum (Mitt.) Fleisch. (Hypnaceae) was seen common within 1400-2700 m with distributional gaps at some places. The species like Bryum cellulare, Bryuim clavatum, Funaria hygrometrica and Hypnum pleumaforme had been recorded above 3000 m. The species like Cephaloziella massalongi (Spruce.) K. Muell. (Cephaloziellaceae), Frullania gracillima St. (Frullaniaceae) and Jamesoniella automnalis (D.C) Steph. (Jungermanniaceae) were reported as very rare species. They were recorded at the elevation of 1700 m and 2450 m in a micro habitat. Similarly the occurrence of Tayloria indica Mitt. (Splachnaceae) at an elevation of 2460 m was also very rare in status. Among the hepaticae, many species of different families were found rare as well. Likewise 28 species of Musci also were recorded rare in status. Heteroscyphus argutus (Reinw. et al.) Schiffn, of the family Geocalycaceae, a common species in lowland below 1000 m was reported rare in this area (Pradhan, 2008). A list of bryophytes including Anthocerotae, Hepaticae and Musci is provided in Appendix I.
The distribution of Bryophytes were noted at every 100 m starting from 1300 m to 3000 m. Rich diversity of this plant was documented at elevation of 2000-3000 m where 170 species were recorded. About 47 species were identified at 1800-2000 meter whereas 88 species were recorded at 1300-1800 meter at the northwest part (Table 2.). These are represented here in pyramid diagram (Fig. 12)
Table 2. Altitudinal species diversity of Bryophytes in Northern Sindhupalchok

S.N.

Altitude

Species Number

1.

1300-1400 m

10

2

1400-1500 m

15

2..

1500- 1600 m

13

3.

1600-1700 m

11

4.

1700-1800 m

39

5.

1800- 1900 m

26

6.

1900-2000 m

21

7.

2000-2100 m

21

8.

2100-2200 m

20

9.

2200- 2300 m

18

10.

2300-2400 m

14

11.

2400- 2500 m

39

12.

2500- 2600 m

25

13.

2600- 2700 m

14

14.

2700- 2800 m

4

15.

2800-2900 m

6

16.

2900- 3000 m

5



Table 3. Quadrant reading at Nagote (Nakote) Village

Latitude: 28◦00’35.57”N

Longitude: 85◦31’59.66”E

Altitude: 1938m

Size of quadrate: 10x10 m

S.N.

Bryophyte species

No. of patches observed

Relative cover

( %)

Hepaticae

1

*Jungermania exertifolia

1

1.14

2

Marchantia emarginata Reinw. et al.

2

2.28

3

Plagiochila spinulosa

1

1.14

4

*Scapania undulata (L.) Dumort.

1

1.14

Musci

5

Barbula tenuirostries Brid.

1

1.14

6

Brachythecium buchanii (Hook.) A. Jaeger

1

1.14

7

Entodontopsis wightii (Mit.) W. R. Buck & Ireland

3

3.44

8

Funaria hygrometrica Hedw.

31

35.63(most dominant)

9

Hyophila involuta (Hook.) A. Jaeger

28

32.1

10

Hypnum plumaforme W. Wilson

6

3.44

11

Pholia flexuosa Hook.

1

1.14

12

Pogonatum microstomum (Schwaegr.) Brid.

10

11.4




Total

87




Funaria hygrometrica was found in majority with relative coverage of 35.63 %. Likewise, Hyophila involuta represented 28 patches with a total cover of 32.1 %. Pogonatum microstomum within 10 patches has 11.4 % of coverage. Least coverage had been noticed in Pholia flexmosa, Barbula tenuirostries, Brachythecium buchanii, Jungermsnia exertifolia, Plagiochila spinulosa and Scapania undulata. Marchantia emarginata covers 2.28 % whereas Entodontopsis wightii had 4. 59 % of coverage.
4.3. Endangered Bryophyte species resulted

The peat moss (Sphagnum junghuhnianum) has been found very rare in status which so far is reported only from a single place of eastern Nepal. This was reported in a single patch around the damp place at 2200 m on the way to Shermathang. The species like Ricardia multifida (Anuriaceae), Reboulia hemispherica, (Aytoniaceae), Cephaloziella massalongi (Spruce.) K. Muell. (Cephaloziellaceae), Frullania gracillima St. (Frullaniaceae) and Jamesoniella automnalis (D.C) Steph. (Jungermanniaceae) were reported very rare in status. They were recorded in a microhabitat type. Similarly Tayloria indica Mitt. (Splachnaceae) was recorded at an elevation of 2460 m. They are the notably very rare and endangered species recorded in this study. Newly reported leafy liverwort species like Frullania gracillima St., Plagiochila spinulosa (Dicks.) Dumort., Scapania irrigua (Nees) Nees and Scapania undulata were also rare in status collected at 1700 m to 2450 m of elevation. The common lowland Bryum coronatum Schwaegr. (Crown moss) of the family Bryaceae was recorded at 1350-1760 m. This is a tropical species and the present record at 1760 m indicates its habitat shift due to climate change impact thus providing a significant margin for its extensive research. Conocephalum japonicum (Conocephalaceae) is the next rare and endangered species reported at 1800 m in this study.



4.4. Rare Bryofloral species at Remote northern Sindhupalchowk

4.4.1. Panch Pokhary (2000- 4300 m)

Among the bryophytes, the rare species recorded in this study includes Asterella mussuriensis, Riccardia multifida, Jungermannia hyalina, Heteroscyphus coliatus, Metzgeria conjugata, Cepahlozeia and Calypogeia species and likewise in Music the species like Philonotis thwaitsii, Fissidens grandiflorons, Bryum cellulare, Hyophila involuta, etc. are rare in status. The peat moss (Sphagnum cuspidatulum) is very rare in status and was recorded from Hinger Khola, 3000 m of Northern region. The species Folioceros assamicus which was recorded in Tarai for the first time also occurs here (Pradhan and Joshi, 2007b). It was also recorded at the Mahadev Khola, 1300 m on the way to Panch Pokhari. Among other sites in this study Tangu Khola, Chitre, Chhare Kharka and Hinger Khola, Gupha Danda, Mahadev Khola and Nosim are noted potential for bryofloral diversity (Pradhan et al., 2008).
4.5. Associated Higher Plants

Different forest types provide preferable habitats and canopy to various species of bryophytes carrying different conservation values. Epiphytic species like Frullania, Porella, Plagiochila, Hypnum, Entodontopsis, Mnium, spp. were also reported growing upon the trunk of different tree species like Alnus nepalensis, Castanopis, Choerospondias axillaris, Prunus cerasoides, Schima wallichii, Quercus semecarpifolia and Persea odoratissima. Altogether 32 tree species at different ecological zones were identified within 1300 to 3000 m of elevation.


Four species like Schima wallichii, Castanopsis indica, Castanopsis tribuloides and Pinus roxbhughii were the notable species at 1300-2000 m. The temperate part above this was dominated by Alnus nepalensis, Quecus semicarpifolia and Quecus lamillosa. Rhododendron arboreum was well speared in this region which is the National flower of Nepal.

A detail list of reported flora including Pteridophytes, Gymnospermae, Angiospermae with their altitudinal record has been provided in Appendix III to Appendix VI. The bryophyte associated Pteridophytes include 20 genera and 29 species belonging to 12 families (Appendix III). Six species of Gymnosperm under two families were recorded at the followed routes (Appendix IV). The higher plants recorded in first and second phase are given separately in Appendix V and Appendix VI. The list of plants in Appendix V are arranged alphabetically with their habit, altitude and status where as the plants in Appendix VI are given altitude wise with their GPS readings.


The association of faunal components to Bryophyte habitats is given in Appendix VII.
4.6. Traditional Use

One of the aspects of this study is also to find out traditional uses of bryophytes in the community or society of the peoples of this district. This study revealed very few information on its uses. This study was made by direct observation and information gathering through questionnaires. Peoples at every stopped station were interviewed besides letting them know on uses of bryophytes in different ways. They were also informed to make its use under sustainable way.


The use of the bryofloral specimens was done by the local inhabitants differently for making pillow stuffs and clothes wrapped for basal support to make stand to water vessels in their homes especially at Doring and Timbu villages of the study sites. Especially the moss Calliergonella cuspidata (H 62) and Hypnum spp. were used for these purposes. At Doring village, these plants were dried and stuffed in infant’s bed which was placed in a flat basket thus making easy to carry on back. They used called these plants (Mosses) as Bhop in their local language.
The local inhabitants were made familiarized with this plant with regards to its use in various ways. They were informed to harvest very soft specimens of mosses, make them dry which eventually can be used to make pillow, mattress or small beds. They were also informed that soft specimens of bryoflora which are common in their areas can be used for baby diapers after drying and wrapping the specimens with soft clothes. These mosses have the capacity to absorb moisture and water so can be used for different purposes. Colored Pictures of different bryofloral species, books and real specimens were used in this program
The peoples in Nagote and Dhupgyang villages were also informed that the use of these mosses should follow sustainable pattern. It is essential that after harvesting, the capsules of the mosses should be separated very lightly, dry them out, mashed them gently and spread over the land or its habitats. This helps to germinate and grow these plants again and compensate harvested specimens.
4.7. Faunal Association to Bryophyte Habitats

Identification of insects, nematods, mammal, and some bird species reported in and around bryophyte habitats have been made. Birds and mammals were identified in the field using field guide books written by Fleming (1976) and Prater (1971). Field identification of butterflies and moths were done with the help of Khanal and Smith (1997) and Haruta (1995). Other faunal components like beetles, earwigs (Dermaptera), millipedes, molluscans and nematods were brought to the research institutes in Kathmandu to confirm their identification. Ethyl alcohol was used as preservatives for millipedes and nematodes while dry preservative method was adopted for beetles and some molluscans except slug which was preserved in ethyl alcohol of 70 % as well.


Many small invertebrates were recorded in moss habitats. These habitats are located generally at the northern slopes of the mountains where damp and wet condition prevailed. A list of the reported faunal species in and around bryophyte habitats is provided in Appendix VI

  1. DISCUSSION

A total of 451 specimens of bryophytes were collected from Northern Sindhupalchowk district, which were categorized into 75 genera and 141 species under 41 families and three classes. The class Anthocerotae included two genera and three species under the family Anthocerotaceae. The class Hepaticae included 23 genera and 50 species under 19 families and the class Musci with 50 genera and 88 species under 21 families (Fig. 9). Among the Hepaticae, the diversity of leafy liverwort (Jungermanniales) were dominant with the records of 31 species under 11 families and two species from Anacrogynous Jungermanniales (Metzgeriales) (Fig.10). The thalloid liverworts (Marchantiales) included 17 species. Among the order Marchantiales, the family Aytoniaceae is dominant with the record of six species under three genera.


Among the Music, the family Bryaceae is the most dominant with the record of 18 species from different localities at the elevation of 1250-3000 m. The second dominant families are Fissidentaceae and Pottiaceae with the record of six species each and Hypnaceae and Thuidaceae have five species each. The species Tayloria indica Mitt is very rare species recorded only in a place at the elevation of 2400 m.
Of the total records, eleven species are new to the country (Appendix II). Of them, seven species belong to the order Jungermanniales of Hepaticae and rest four species are from the class Musci which includes two species of Bryaceae, one species each from Calymperaceae and Polytrichaceae (Fig. 11)

5.1. Graphs


Families, genera and species


Fig.3. Species Diversity of Bryophytes of Northern Sindhupalchok


Orders


Fig.4. Number of species in three Orders of Class Hepaticae


Fig.5. New records to the Country.


Fig.6. Diversity of bryophytes in N. Sindhupalchok at 1300 m – 3000 m.


  1. CONSERVATION

Threat factors imposing direct impact on bryophyte habitats were studied at different altitudinal pockets. The major impact assessed in this part is mainly due to high rate of deforestation which is causing habitat loss of many rare bryophyte species occurring here. Agricultural extension which has demolished a major part of the natural forests was noticed in various places. This has made direct impact on bryofloral habitats mainly at Shermatnag (2620 m), Timbu (1300 m) and Melamchi (846 m) and Nagote (18000-2000 m) areas. The undergoing road constructions linking Melamchi, Timbu to the Tarkyghyang. Melamchighyang, Nagote and Shermathang are the next adverse effect on the habitats of many rare bryophyte species. Major habitats have been destroyed for this work with complete loss of many species so their diversity and status remained completely unknown for-ever.


Tourism promotion activity in this part without proper management also has left adverse effect though tourism is one of the important income sources for the peoples of this part. Many significant habitats were found demolished in order to provide essential physical facilities for tourists visiting this part.
Villagers were found interested to participate in conservation campaign, they can do still better to promote tourism in their area if they are supported by the government or any other agencies. The women of this area have formed Women’s Group which is actively participating in village development programmes. They are equally interested in the conservation of forest resources, wild life and to promote tourism in their areas. They also have planned to increase the economy of the villagers with the development of the horticultural and agricultural sectors; this has been found very encouraging especially at Nagote, Dhupgyang, Botang and Mane Bhanhyang areas.
6.1. Endangered and protected species

6.1.1. Faunal species: Among the fauna present in the forest area along the road alignment, Leopard (Panthera pardus) and Bear (Ursus thibetanus) are listed in CITES Appendix-I. Dumsi (Hystrix indica), Monkey (Macaca mulatta), Common frog (Rana tigrina), Wild cat (Felis Chaus) are listed in CITES Appendix-II.

6.1.2. Floral Species: Okhar (Juglans regia), is protected plant species and Sugandawal (Cinnamomum glaucescens) and Jhyau (Lichen sp.) are prohibited species for export to other countries (IEE Study Report of February -2010). Chiraito (Swertia chirayita) and Jhyau (Parmelia sp.) are vulnerable species under IUCN category.
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