Ecology, Ethnobotany, and Conservation Status of Browse Vegetation from Cholistan Rangelands of Pakistan

Document Type : Research and Full Length Article

Authors

1 Cholistan Institute of desert Studies (CIDS) The Islamia University of Bahawalpur Pakistan

2 Department of Forestry, Range & Wildlife Management, The Islamia University of Bahawalpur, Pakistan

3 Department of Forestry and Range Management, Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan, Pakistan

4 Arid Zone Research Institute, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Bahawalpur Pakistan

Abstract

The browse vegetation of the Cholistan rangelands is diminishing with the passage of time due to climatic extremities, overgrazing, and human exploitation. Therefore, this study was planned to collect the baseline data about ecology, ethnobotany, and conservation status of browses. A semi-structured questionnaire was designed to record information of plant species from nomadic peoples (85 males, 05 female) and by ecological observations during field visits. In this study, a total of 25 browse species belonging to 17 genera and 12 families were documented, however family status showed that Chenopodiaceae and Mimosaceae were most dominant families. In these rangelands three-soil microhabitats sandunal, interdunal and clayey saline were noted, and each have different species structure and composition. According to life span and life form, all identified species were found as perennials and phanerophytes, respectively. Leaf spectra of Raunkiaerian approach revealed that leptopylls dominated study area, which is an indicator of arid conditions. Phenological observations revealed two flowering seasons, first season was from February to April and second was from September to November, both were associated to winter and monsoon rains, respectively. Further ethnobotanical observations have divided species into four categories based on their uses i.e. firewood, timber wood, forage and medicinal. The peoples of this area depend on local plants and different parts of plants (bark, leaves, shoots, roots) were used for different treatments. Out of total species, 24 species were observed to have forage value that shows potential of this area as rangeland whereas based on grazing response, maximum number of species (40%) were noted as decreasers. According to conservation status, most of browse species have become threatened followed by endangered, vulnerable, least concerned, and critically endangered, respectively. Results showed current status and potential of browses to apply quick conservation measures with suggestion of further floral investigation in Cholistan rangelands.

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