Structure and Floristic Composition of Subtropical Broad-Leaved Humid Forest of Cherapunjee in Meghalaya, Northeast India
The structure and floristic composition of subtropical broadleaved humid forest was investigated in three sites of Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya, northeast India. It is one of the wettest places on Earth with an annual rainfall of 11,309 mm. In each site, a belt transect (20 m x 500 m) was laid that had 100 plots of 10 m × 10 m. All plants ≥ 5 cm diameter at breast height (dbh) in each plots were measured and enumerated. A total of 125 plant species (≥5 cm dbh) of 94 genera and 51 families was recorded from the three study locations. Of these 99 species (79%) were trees, 16 (13%) were shrubs and 10 (8%) were climbers/lianas. Thirty-three species (26%) were common to all the sites. Thirty two species (26%) are endemic to northeast India or the Indo-Burma hotspot, of which eight species are narrowly endemic to the state of Meghalaya. The species richness ranged from 70-81 ha-1, density 1109-1637 individuals ha-1 and basal area 30.52-38.38 m2 ha-1 in the three studied sites. Lauraceae (11 species), Rubiaceae (8) and Fagaceae (7) were the dominant families. The numbers of species as well as stem density were greater for the trees of lower dbh (5–15 cm) class compared to the higher (> 56 cm) dbh class. Majority of the species showed a contagious distribution pattern. Species richness and various structural parameters of these forests at Cherrapunjee, comparable with other tropical forests thus underline conservation need.