Lichen floral studies on Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam. tree trunk in different eco -regions of Sri Lanka

Information on lichen flora in Sri Lanka is scarce. Therefore a study was carried out to investigate lichens growing on a tree species common to all five eco regions (Montane, Wet, Intermediate, Arid and Dry zone) of Sri Lanka. The common tree species found in all regions was Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam. (jak). Lichen flora found on bark of jak trees between 1.5 m and 2 m above the ground level was studied. Six hundred and sixty three specimens from hundred and twenty trees were studied. Twenty five genera and thirteen families were found among them. Twenty genera were found to be crustose and five were folioses. No fruticose lichen was found in any region. Of all identified lichens 40% were belonged to the family Graphidaceae and it was the most frequently found lichen family in all regions and the second highest (17%) was belonged to family Phyciaceae. The most frequently found genus was Graphis.

Heterodermia and Pertusaria were found only in montane zone while Leptogium was found only in lowland wet zone. Thelotrema, Ocellularia, Myriotrema and Chrysothrix were found only in Intermediate zone. Parmelia was restricted to wet zone while Dirinaria, Dimerella and Porina were restricted to dry zone. Differences in distribution of some of these lichens can be explained with rain fall, temperature and humidity.
Graphis and Opegrapha were found on jak tree trunks in all studied sites indicating that it has been well adapted to any environmental conditions in Sri Lanka.

M M K Karunarathne 1, W J S K Weerakkody 1 and D S A Wijesundara2
1 Department of Plantation Management, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka
2Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Present status of mangroves in three different water bodies associated sites in Thirukkovil and Pottuvil, Ampara district

Thirukkovil and Pottuvil villages in Ampara district are well known for Ecotourism. Village ecotourism is based on the beauty of the coastal belt and its surrounds which is decorated by flora and fauna within its geographical sites. A predominant flora of the coastal villages, along the water bodies are mangroves and this was either fully or partially devastated by tsunami tidal waves in 2004. Studing the present status of mangroves is important for the ecotourism since it enables the present plant forms and by replanting the appropriate species. The aim of the study was to evaluated the present status of mangroves, in the three selected water bodies associate sites namely Maranakandy River in Thirukkovil, Kudakali Lagoon & Dhua Lagoon in Pottuvil, Ampara district, which was carried out in July 2006.

An impact of tidal waves on mangroves and its associates was not clearly evident in Maranakandy River, where an impact was clearly seen in Kudakali lagoon, but least was noted in Dhua lagoon, at the time of study. This impact difference possibly by the distances of sea point’s from the sites and the types of mangrove vegetation the sites had at that time. Maranakandy River was under continuous exploitation by local communities compared to Kudakali lagoon and Dhua lagoon, which located next to each other, but at a distance and an undisturbed state. Both true and associated mangroves species were naturally segregated in all three sites. Predominant species was Rhizophora sp, except in Dhua lagoon. In Dhua lagoon, along the sites, but opposite to the sea, root stumps and prop roots were left out as evident destructive parts of Rhizophora sp. by tidal waves impact and no species were seen in the premises. Rhizophora sp. was grown adjacent and along the sites in Maranakandy River and Kudakali lagoon, where Excoecaria agallocha and Bruguiera gymnorhiza were at its immediate right backyard, respectively. R. mucronata showed a stunted growth in Maranakandy River, where as R. apiculata recorded in Kudakali lagoon was overgrown to a height of 6 m. As such, a morphological habit of R. apiculata possibly served as a colliding object for the impact of tidal waves in Kudakali lagoon and thus impact of tidal waves was greater on R. apiculata, mainly at the entry point of sea water. Tall grown B. gymnorhiza was only recorded in Kudakali lagoon and impact of tidal waves were negligible, since R. apiculata was in the frontier line and sacrificed first while safe guarded the B. gymnorhiza. Natural regenerations by numerous B. gymnorhiza seedlings were seen and being occupied in the devastated sites of R. apiculata in Kudakali lagoon. Replantation of R. mucronata seedlings were noted in Maranakandy River, except in Dhua lagoon. Thus, on site basis, a planned replantation of mangroves is necessary to uplift the socio-economic life of three sites in the district, perhaps ecotourism.

P Manoharan and T Shripathy
Faculty of Science, Eastern University, Sri Lanka

Phytosociology of woody vegetation on the eastern slopes of Nilgiris

For proper assessment of biodiversity, its rate of extinction and driving forces leading to extinction, information on the vegetation type, floristic composition and their habitats, human interventions and ultimately impact on landscape changes vis-à-vis biological richness characteristics are required. Nilgiris, the blue mountains of the Southern India, is one of the magnificent and oldest mountain ranges in the world, lying at the junction of Eastern and Western Ghats of the Indian peninsula. Basically, Nilgiris is a hilly area forming part of the environmentally fragile Western Ghats with extremely rich, abundant and wide array of flora and fauna. Botanically, as well as zoologically and ethnologically, the Nilgiris forms a distinct ecological realm of its own and possesses enigmatic affinities to Himalayan flora and fauna. An attempt has been made in this study to analyse the vegetation of eastern slopes of Nilgiris forming part of the famous NBR for its floristic composition and phytosociological aspects during the year 2002-03.

Results revealed that the vegetation of the entire study area was composed of 166 species distributed among 51 taxonomic families. Among the different vegetation types under study semi-evergreen vegetation was found to be the richest in species composition (117 species), followed by riverine vegetation (89 species) and least species richness was registered in deciduous vegetation (85 species). Phytosociological studies revealed that Dendrocalamus–Anogeissus–Naringi in deciduous vegetation, Karadisale– Nothopegia–Pamburus in riverine vegetation and Olea-Ligustrum-Anogeissus in case of semi-evergreen vegetation were the dominant plant communities. Semi-evergreen vegetation was found to be dense with nearly 540 individuals per ha and dominant with BA of 41.85 m2 ha-1 followed by riverine vegetation (520 individuals per ha and 25.07 m2 ha-1) and deciduous vegetation (317 individuals per ha and 19.17 m2 ha-1). Among the vegetation types under study contiguous distribution was recorded for majority of species followed by random pattern of distribution. None of the species showed regular distribution pattern. Thus, it can be concluded that all the vegetation types under investigation registered comparatively rich floristic composition. This valuable resource needs to be protected and managed sustainably.

R T Agasimani and K Kumaran
Forest College and Research Institute, Mettupalayam (Tamil Nadu), India

Conservation significance of privately managed coffee forests of Kodagu, Wetstern Ghats

The main approach for habitat conservation in the past has been the establishment of protected areas. This however, cannot ensure the protection of all the earths’biodiversity. Without tackling the influences leading to environmentally destructive activities, parks don’t necessarily attend to the reasons behind the need for protected habitat. They are also highly dependent on the state of surrounding land use. The amount of land in the world currently with protected areas is estimated at five per cent of the earths land surface with remainder being shaped by human managed habitats. Hope for biodiversity lies in the fact that not all agricultural lands are biological deserts, and some agro-systems especially traditional structurally diverse systems can support high levels of biodiversity. Coffee based agroforestry system is one such sub-system and is prevalent in many agrarian regions of the world and also in India. Kodagu, the second smallest district in Karnataka is in the central part of Western Ghats. The district has 73 per cent of its landscape under tree cover and is one of the densest forested districts in India. The diversity of forested ecosystems and associated biodiversity has resulted in Kodagu being identified as micro hotspot of biodiversity. Privately owned and managed coffee plantations are also well wooded and constitute 29 per cent of the landscape and Kodagu produces one third of India’s coffee. The present paper tries to throw light on the structure, diversity and conservation significance of coffee based agroforestry systems of Kodagu, a privately managed coffee forests.

B N Sathish and C G Kushalappa
University of Agricultural Sciences, College of Forestry, Ponnampet, Kodagu, Karnataka India.

Eco-geographic survey of wild species of Vigna in Sri Lanka

The eco-geographic survey of plant genetic resources is essential for effective in situ and ex situ conservation of plant genetic resources. Results of eco-geographic survey could be used to predict new areas for survey and to assist in the formulation of collection and conservation priorities. An eco geographic survey was conducted in Sri Lanka during August 2005 to February 2006 in some protected areas and other target areas of Sri Lanka to locate wild species of Vigna, map their localities, identify threatened areas and find out suitable locations for in-situ conservation.

Habitats and taxonomic characteristics data were recorded. Locations of wild spices of Vigna were noted by using Global Positioning System (GPS). The distribution of six wild species of Vigna occurring in Sri Lanka is depicted in the maps. GPS data were analyzed by Flora map distribution modelling and probable localities of Vigna wild species were mapped. Six species of Vigna recorded by the survey are distributed from 0 MSL to 1630 m MSL. However, V. stipulacea, V. trilobata and V. aridicola were found only lower latitudes (0 to 130 m MSL) and V. dalzilliana and V. trinervia are limited to higher elevation (790m to 1630m MSL). Vigna radiata var. sublobata was found only in one location Dambana in Badulla district. V. stipulacea, and V. trilobata are mostly found near sea shore and V. aridicola is found in inland dry areas. Difference in leaf shape of V. trilobata is observed in different populations. The probable areas that were identified using flora map modelling are located in Puttalam, Polonnaruwa, Ampara, Kurunagala and Batticola districts. Surveys in these areas are needed to identify new populations of wild Vigna species.

A S U Liyanage, W M D Wasala, D K Edirisinghe and A Wijesekera
Plant Genetic Resources Centre, Gannoruwa, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

Determination of the scale of pattern and distribution in Helicteres isora L. (Sterculiaceae)

Helicteres isora L. is a traditional multipurpose plant used by indigenous community and villagers in all the three major climatic zones in Sri Lanka. It naturally occurs in the edges of forests and in disturbed secondary vegetation. It is fastly disappearing in the wet zone due to land clearing and high extraction rates. The present study was conducted to understand the pattern and the scale of distribution of H. isora in order to provide information for biodiversity conservation and further to enable the sustainable use.

Twelve natural populations were identified in wet, intermediate and dry zones and the distribution of individuals was studied using gradient directed transect method. The t test was performed for each population to detect the pattern of distribution and pattern analysis was carried out to determine the scale of pattern.

Out of twelve populations surveyed, only five populations showed contagious distribution (p < 0.05) while seven populations showed random pattern of distribution. This indicates that the populations of H. isora do not fall into a particular pattern of distribution in nature. This may be due to the high disturbance present in and around the populations.

The results of the pattern analysis reveal more peaks in smaller block sizes (2m2) and larger block sizes (32m2) indicating aggregated pattern in respective block sizes. Peaks in smaller block sizes are due to the morphology of the plant as it produces new plants from roots. Peaks at larger block sizes are due to the extrinsic factors and these results could be utilized in the in- situ conservation of H. isora.

K Yakandawala1, S J B A Jayasekera1, D S A Wijesundara2 and T L S Thirimanne3
1Faculty of Agriculture and Plantation Management, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka
2National Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
3Faculty of
Science, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.

On the relationships of birds and their habitat requirements: Insights from a tropical rain forest in Silent Valley National Park, Western Ghats, India

At Silent Valley National Park, (SVNP) the habitat associations for birds and the effects of environmental variables, seasonality at various altitudes have been studied. We used bird count data collected from 60 plots during 2002-2005 at 30-m fixed radius point count stations. A total of 5,253 individuals belonging to 108 species were recorded which includes 14 species endemic to Western Ghats. Breeding of 32 species were recorded with 517 nests. Highest species richness was found in the wet evergreen forest sites. Species richness was significantly lower in broad-leaved hill forest followed by montane wet temperate forest compared to the other habitat types. Both total bird abundance and species richness were highest within the evergreen habitat of SVNP, which offered distinctive vegetation. Bird diversity followed the same pattern, evergreen followed by grasslands and montane wet temperate forest and then by broad-leaved hill forest. Our analysis showed that altitude appears to be the primary environmental variable responsible for the distribution of species. We examined nest-site characteristics and degree of partitioning among 12 major co-existing bird species breeding in SVNP. Habitat characteristics of nest sites differed significantly among species, indicating strong nest-site partitioning. The 12 variables for all 442 nest sites were collectively subjected to PCA to determine the relationships of the 12 species in the “habitat space” of SVNP. To summarize the differences in the nest site “gestalts” of the species, and to identify the best contributors of their statistical separation, Stepwise Discriminant Function Analysis was performed on the entire set of 12 variables.

A Das and L Vijayan
Division of Conservation Ecology, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Tamil Nadu, India

Buffer zone restoration and development in Knuckles conservation area, Sri Lanka: An overview of Darwin Initiative Project

The Knuckles Conservation Area, which extends to an area about 17, 500 ha of central uplands of Sri Lanka, is famous for its highly diverse species of flora and fauna, endemism and many unique habitats. Over few decades, much of the forest in the area was cleared for the cultivation of coffee, tea and then cardamom. The buffer zone, therefore, consists of a mosaic of anthropogenically derived vegetation types that vary in habitat quality, including degraded grasslands and natural forest fragments under-planted with Cardamom. In this context, a project primarily focussed on research, training and knowledge dissemination, funded by Darwin Initiative of the government of UK is jointly launched in Knuckles region by University of Aberdeen, UK and University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka along with other partner organisations for three years. It has already passed the first sixth months of its implementation. The project aims to enhance the sustainable conservation of biological diversity and ecosystem services in the Knuckles by addressing the main threats to environmental protection through the development of options for buffer zone management that improve the livelihoods of local communities. This paper is, therefore, supported with ideas and information gathered from preliminary project workshop and field observation at Knuckles, assess the relevancy of this project in the context and explore the conservation related issues in Knuckles. Beyond that, in addition to the experience with the project so far, this paper examines the approach adopted for the restoration and development of Knuckles and its surrounding buffer zone.

B Dhakal1 and M A Pinard2
1Darwin Initiative Project, Post graduate Institute of Science (PGIS), University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka 2Department of Plant and Soil Science, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom

Preliminary study on herpetofaunal diversity of Nilgala forest area in Monaragala district, Sri Lanka

Nilgala Forest Area (NFA) is one of the largest and important forest area in Monaragala District, Uva Province. It contain 12,432 hectares and lies within 7o 08‘ – 7o 14‘ NL and 81o 16‘ – 81o 20‘ EL. Its elevation range between 200m to 700m within the Irindahela, Hangale, Yakun hela (highest point 700 m), Hamapola, Badangamuwa, Keenagoda, Makada, Karadugala, Kukulagoda, Ewalahela, Gorikkada hills. The mean annual rainfall varies between where the average annual rainfall 1500mm – 2000mm (rain during northeast monsoon), while the mean annual temperature of the area is 28 oC – 31 oC. The vegetation comprised with lowland tropical moist semi evergreen forest and savannah forest, home gardens and small patch paddy cultivations. The dominant tree species are Aralu (Terminalia chebula), Bulu (Terminalia bellirica) and Nelli (Phyllanthus emblica). Other than biodiversity, Nilgala is rich of archaeological monuments, such as prehistoric, proto-historic and historical Buddhist monasteries.

During the two-year study period, total number of 70 reptile species were and 19 amphibian species recorded. Reptiles include 44 genera of 17 families and 20 (28.5%) endemic species. Amphibian fauna contain 13 genera including 4 families and 6 (31.5%) endemic species. 41.4% (29) of reptiles and 26.3% (5) of Amphibians listed as ‘Nationally Threatened’ in the 1999 IUCN National threatened list. Out of 70 species 38 (54.2%) are Serpentoid reptiles (11 endemics) and 32 (45.7%) species are of Tetrapod reptiles (9 endemics). Among the recorded species, 11 Serpentoid, 3 Tetrapod, and 2 amphibians have not been recorded by previous workers. Furthermore seven unidentified species were also recorded during the survey, which probably include new amphibian species belonging to genus Nannophrys. Human activities such as man-made fire, illegal logging, extensive use of chemicals for agriculture, forest clearing for chena cultivation and road kills were identified as a main threat for the natural habitats as well as faunal species.

D M S S Karunarathna, A A T Amarasinghe, U T I Abeywardena, M D C Asela and D G R Sirimanna
The Young Zoologists’ Association of Sri Lanka, National Zoological Gardens, Dehiwala, Sri Lanka.

Current distribution and abundance of slender lorises (Loris tardigradus and L. lydekkerianus) in Sri Lanka

Two species of slender lorises are currently recognized in Sri Lanka. They are Sri Lanka red slender loris (Loris tardigradus) and Grey slender loris (L. lydekkerianus), with four currently recognized sub-species; viz. Western red slender loris (L. t. tardigradus), Montane slender loris (L. t. nycticeboides), Northern grey slender loris (L. l. nordicus), and Highland slender loris (L. l. grandis). The objective of this survey was to map the distribution and estimate the abundance of lorises in Sri Lanka. The study was initiated in 2002 and continues to date. Thus far forty-five sites across all of the ecological zones have been surveyed covering approximately 400 km2. In six of these sites, lorises were not recorded. Of the other 39 sites, 223 sightings of slender loris (L. t. tardigradus (n = 86), L. t. nycticeboides (n = 3), L. l. nordicus (n = 122), and L. l. grandis (n = 12). Abundance estimates, base on sightings of animals km-1, were: L. t. tardigradus (0.5–8), L. t. nycticeboides (0.03), L. l. nordicus (0.7–13), and L. l. grandis (0.3–4) were recorded. The abundance of lorises varied in different habitat types with the highest abundance of lorises occurring in the dry zone monsoon forests. The least abundance of lorises was recorded in the cloud forest.

S N Gamage1, D K Weerakoon2 and A Gunawardena1
1Department of Animal Science, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka
2Department of Zoology, University of Colombo, Sri LankaS N Gamage1, D K Weerakoon2 and A Gunawardena1
1Department of Animal Science, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka
2Department of Zoology, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka.