The Environmentalist

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 485–493 | Cite as

Composition, species diversity, and biomass of the herbaceous community in dry tropical forest of northern India in relation to soil moisture and light intensity

  • R. Sagar
  • A. Pandey
  • J. S. Singh


Herb layer contributes substantially to the species diversity of forests and responds relatively quickly to changes in the environment. The objectives of the present study were to understand the relationships among tree canopy cover, soil moisture, light intensity, herbaceous diversity and biomass in a dry tropical forest of India. For this, 20 locations equally distributed in four sites were selected. Four quadrats, each 1 × 1 m in size, were randomly placed for sampling at each location. For each quadrat, tree canopy cover, incident light, soil moisture, herbaceous diversity, and biomass were determined. Results indicated that the selected locations differed in terms of tree canopy cover, soil moisture, light intensity, herbaceous diversity, and biomass. Principal component analysis (PCA), using importance value indices of the component species yielded four groups corresponding to the four communities. PCA axes were related to the tree canopy cover, light intensity, and soil moisture and suggested that these variables had a profound effect on the organization and determination of herbaceous floristic composition and diversity. Positive relationships of tree canopy cover with soil moisture, herbaceous diversity and biomass, and those of soil moisture with herbaceous diversity and biomass suggested that the tree canopies facilitated the herbaceous communities by modifying environmental conditions that ultimately improved the diversity and production. Further, the study showed a linear relationship of herbaceous diversity with biomass, indicating the importance of species diversity for generating primary production in forest herbs.


Biomass Canopy cover Diversity Dry tropics Herb diversity 



The Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, is acknowledged for financial support. JSS is supported by NASI Senior Scientist Scheme.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BotanyBanaras Hindu UniversityVaranasiIndia

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