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Functional importance of sacred forest patches in the altered landscape of Palakkad region, Kerala, India

Ray, Rajasri and Sreevidya, EA and Ramachandra, T (2017) Functional importance of sacred forest patches in the altered landscape of Palakkad region, Kerala, India. In: JOURNAL OF TROPICAL ECOLOGY, 33 (6). pp. 379-394.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0266467417000360


The role of sacred forest patches in maintaining biodiversity and offering ecosystem services is well established, though the functional aspects are understated. This study aims to understand the functional diversity of tree reproductive traits of sacred forest patches in an altered landscape. Twenty-five sacred groves in Palakkad region, Kerala, India, were chosen to assess the distribution of five reproductive traits - pollination mechanism, fruit size, seed number, seed size and dispersal mechanism - among the tree populations. The data matrix was analysed for overall trait-state distribution, functional diversity assessment and its relation to environmental parameters and disturbance in the area. A total of 87 woody species was documented with a fairly homogenized distribution of fruit and seed characters, with >= 50% of the recorded trait states in each grove in comparison to control plot. Pollination and dispersal mechanisms are dominated by a single guild. e.g. insects and birds, often generalist in nature. Functional richness had a strong correlation with Shannon's index and disturbance, but evenness and divergence were weakly related with others. Comparative assessment with null model showed no significant deviations from expected results indicating apparent lack of habitat filtering or resource competition among sacred groves. The trait homogenization and overall simplification of the grove biota is perhaps an outcome of rapid land-use change and its consequences on specialist members. This study shows sacred groves are important for maintaining a plethora of functional traits in the altered landscape. However, the prevalence of generalist mediators indicates maintenance of basic ecological functions in the landscape without support for specialist ones.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: 10.1017/S0266467417000360
Additional Information: Copy right for this article belongs to the CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, 32 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS, NEW YORK, NY 10013-2473 USA
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Ecological Sciences
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2018 06:34
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2018 06:34
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/58598

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