Pteridopytic diversity in Loolkandura forest

The plant category ferns and fern allies are taxonomically known as Pteridophytes. In Sri Lanka about 340 Pteridophytes have been recorded belongs to 29 families. They have ornamental, medicinal and edible values and play an important role in biodiversity of forest understory. Unlike flowering plants, studies on Pteridophytes are limited in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s first tea plantation has started in Loolkandura area but the remaining hilly areas still exists as undisturbed forests with high biodiversity. However limited studies have been carried out on biodiversity of Loolkandura forest area. Consequently, the objective of this study was identification of Pteridophytic diversity of Loolkandura forest area.

Three elevation levels (1100, 1300 and 1500 m) were selected along the stream networks and three plots (each of 10 × 10 m) from each elevation level were established for sampling. Number of species, their population size and habitats were assessed for each plot. Data were analyzed to identify correlation of species and individuals with elevation levels. A total of 56 Pteridophytes from 19 families were identified from studied area. Seventeen percent of Sri Lankan Pteridophytic flora represent in Loolkandura forest area which consists 3 endemic species (Cyathea walkerae, Meringium macroglossum and Diplazium beddomei). Two main Pteridophytic habitats were identified as lithophytes and terrestrial (terrestrial dense forest, terrestrial open and terrestrial road side). In Loolkandura forest area, both number of families and number of species are in increasing trend with increasing of elevation. There are three species namely, Asplenium nomale (R2= 0.69), Metathelypteris flassida (R2 = 0.54) and Polystichum biaristatum (R2= 0.64) showed significantly positive relationship with number of individual of a species with increasing of elevation from 1100 to 1500 m. Two species namely Arachniodes aristata (R2= 0.69) and Tectaria decurrence (R2= 0.59) showed decreasing trend in number of individuals with increasing of elevation. Disturbances to the ecosystem and soil moisture content were identified as major parameters to variations of Metathelypteris flassida and Arachniodes aristata. Checklist for Pteridophytes was prepared for the studied area and implications of findings on conservation and utilization of Pteridophytes are discussed.

S R W A B M R J Kandapola2, R G H Ranill, D K N G Pushpakumara1 and T Sivananthawarl1
1 Department of Crop Science, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
2 Postgraduate Institute of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka