High altitude biodiversity of the Alps and the Himalayas: ethnobotany, plant distribution and conservation perspective
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Historical evidences suggest that the Himalayas have some strong biogeographical links to the Alps. In view of this fact, the present study aims to understand the similarities in plant species distribution and their ethnobotanical uses in the Indian Himalayas and the Slovenian Alps. The plant species common in both the mountain systems and used by local inhabitants were compiled by extensive literature search and also by carrying out primary surveys. Ethnobotanical information was collected through personal interviews of villagers with the help of local assistants and also through direct and indirect observations made during the field surveys. A total of 59 ethnobotanical species representing 17 families common in both the Indian Himalayas and the Slovenian Alps were documented, of these 78% obtained medicinal properties and traditionally used by local people for curing diseases. Comparatively, people of the Indian Himalayas used plants for medicine in higher percentage (73%) than the people of Slovenia (42%). Of the total medicinal plants, only 7 plant species such as Acoruscalamus, Capsellabursa-partoris, Hypericumperforatum, Origanumvulgare, Prunellavulgaris, Solanumnigrum and Urticadioica had some common uses in both the Slovenian Alps and the Indian Himalayas. In the Slovenian Alps, the maximum ethnobotanical species (61%) had wide distribution range whereas maximum ethnobotanical species in the Indian Himalayas (62%) had localized distribution. Though, 27% of common ethnobotanical species belonged to different threat categories, only 2 species—Taxusbaccata and Hippophaerhamnoides—are placed under similar threat category in these two different mountain areas. The study unfolds relationship in plant species distribution and their ethnobotanical uses along with offering an opportunity to provide information on uses of plant species though available but unknown to community.