Patterns of Diversity and Regeneration in Unmanaged Moist Deciduous Forests in Response to Disturbance in Shiwalik Himalayas, India
We studied vegetation attributes in Indian tropical moist deciduous unmanaged forests to determine the influence of forest disturbances on them. We enumerated 89 species: 72 under moderate disturbance and 54 under least disturbance. The data from 3399 stems [>5 cm diameter at breast height (dbh)] decreased linearly along the disturbance gradient. The basal area was largest in least disturbed forests (61 m2/ha) and smallest in intensely disturbed forest (41 m2/ha). Under least and moderate disturbance, tree density-diameter distribution had negative exponential curves, whereas highly disturbed forests had unimodal-shaped curves where a few trees 5–10 cm and >50 cm in diameter were recorded. Most tree and shrub layer species under heavy and intense disturbance had impaired regeneration. Moderate disturbance intensity thus apparently benefits species diversity, stand density, and regeneration. Decline in seedlings and saplings, especially tree species, threaten forest regeneration and the maintenance of species diversity of unmanaged tropical forests.