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Department of Geography
PhD project

Temporal changes in the plant species composition along elevation gradient of Nepal Himalaya

Changes in spatial patterns of the plant species across globe are the ecological fingerprints of climate - and landuse - change on all but mostly the mountain plant communities including the Himalayas.

PhD Candidate Kuber Prasad Bhatta.
PhD Candidate Kuber Prasad Bhatta.

Plant species composition pattern along elevation gradient of Nepal Himalaya has been well documented. However, most of these studies are based on the interpolation of the secondary data sets. Moreover, studies on climate- and land use-change driven compositional changes in the Himalayan plant communities remain very scarce.

Comparing the empirical phyotosociological data with Miehe (1990) and Vetaas (1997), I will elucidate the temporal changes in elevational patterns of plant species composition in central Nepal Himalaya. I have collected the phytosociological data of flowering plants and ferns from the temperate zone (2200 m -2700 m asl) of the Phulchoki Mountain, Kathmandu, Nepal; and subalpine and alpine region (3500 m - 5000 m asl) of Langtang National Park, Rasuwa District, Nepal. I will use regional atmospheric temperature, and as a surrogate of land use change, will apply canopy disturbance and livestock grazing pattern as the major explanatory factors for the temporal changes in species composition.

In this research project, I will try to find the answers of following research questions:

  1. Are there significant changes in elevational pattern of plant species composition of Nepal Himalaya from 1990s to 2014 that may be attributed to land use change and increased temperature?
  2. Does the elevational pattern of plant species composition in the Nepalese Himalaya vary as per the grain size?
  3. How does the elevational pattern of plant species composition vary between the phytosociological releves, the sample plots, and the interpolated species data?