Digital Himalaya Journals

Himalayan Journal of Sciences Volume 4, Issue 6, 2007 Mainali, Kumar P 2007

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PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL OF SCIENCE Volume 4 • Issue 6 • 2007        ISSN 1727 5210
■*- How to create conservation area networks for the Indian region
■*. Ancient lake in Kathmandu basin
* Retreating glaciers and expanding moraine-dammed lakes in the Himalayas
'■*■ E-conference sheds light on negligent management of mountain hazards
m r re J
Volume 4
Issue 6
Page 1-76
ISSN 1727 5210
Assistant Editors
Kumar P Mainali
Ripu M Kunwar
Shishir Paudel
Executive Editor
Bharat B Shrestha
Arjun Adhikari
Rajan Tripathee
Language Editor
Editorial Assistant
Seth Sicroff
Kanak B Kshetri
Himalayan Journal Online
Full text of all papers, guide to
authors, resources for writing and
other materials are available at
Contact   GPO Box 5275,
Kathmandu, Nepal; Tel: 977-1-
5525313 O, 2020770 R (preferred);
Advisory Board
Ram P Chaudhary
Professor, Central Department
of Botany, Tribhuvan University,
Kathmandu, Nepal
Monique Fort
Professor, Centre de Geographie
Physique, University of Paris, France
Mohan B Gewali
Professor, Central Department of
Chemistry, Tribhuvan University,
Kathmandu, Nepal
lack Ives
Professor, Department of Geography
and Environmental Studies, Carleton
University, Ottawa, Canada
Pramod KIha
Professor, Central Department
of Botany, Tribhuvan University,
Kathmandu, Nepal
UdayR Khanal
Professor, Central Department
of Physics, Tribhuvan University,
Kathmandu, Nepal
Bishwambher Pyakuryal
Professor, Central Department of
Economics, Tribhuvan University,
Kathmandu, Nepal
Sahotra Sarkar
Professor, Section of Integrative
Biology and Department of Philosophy,
University of Texas at Austin, USA
Madhusudhan Upadhyaya
Nepal Agricultural Research Council
Khumaltar, Lalitpur, Nepal
Teiji Watanabe
Associate Professor, Hokkaido
University, lapan
Pralad Yonzon
Chairperson, Resources Himalaya
Foundation, Lalitpur, Nepal
Personal: NRs 100.00
Institutional: NRs 300.00
Outside Nepal: US $ 10.00
 Reviewers of this issue
Katsuhiko Asahi
Faculty of Environmental Earth
Science, Hokkaido University, N-10, W-
5, Sapporo, 060-0810 Japan
Mukesh K Chalise
Central Department of Zoology,
Tribhuvan Univeristy, Kathmandu,
Nakul Chettri
Natural Resources Management
Programme, International Centre for
Integrated Mountain Development
Suresh Kumar Ghimire
Central Department of Botany,
Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu,
Pramod Kumar Jha
Central Department of Botany,
Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu,
Shawn Marshall
Department of Geography, University
of Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Arvid Odland
Telemark University College, Hallvard
Eikas Plass, 3800 Bo, Norway
Durga D Poudel
Department of Renewable Resources,
University of Louisiana at Lafayette,
Kanta Poudyal
Amrit Science Campus, Kathmandu,
GS Rawat
Wildlife Institute of India,
Chandrabani, Dehra Dun, India
Harutaka Sakai
Graduate School of Science, Division
of Earth and Planetary Sciences,
Kyushu University, Japan
Victor Sanchez-Cordero
Institute of Biology,
National Autonomous
University of Mexico,
Bhim Subedi
Central Department of Geography,
Tribhuvan University,
Kathmandu, Nepal
Bhaba P Tripathi
IRRI Nepal Office,
Singha Durbar Plaza,
Kathmandu Nepal
Madhusudan P Upadhya
National Agriculture
Research Center,
Khumaltar, Lalitpur,
Resource Himalaya Foundation,
Lalitpur, Nepal
Thematic Focus Schedule
For the next issue (Vol 5, Issue 8; Sept 2008), "Himalayan lournal of Sciences" will have
a double focus:
• Primary: Medical science and technology (including traditional medicine) in
the Himalayan region
• Secondary: Agricultural adjustments to climate change
We will have two online e-conferences to discuss these topics in August 2008, and
the wrap-up papers will be published. We also invite articles (feature, research, book
review) on these themes.
Please note that HIS will also include articles from other fields, but we will give priority
to the focal topics.
Subsequent HIS issues will have the following focus priorities:
• Primary: Major mountain infrastructure (dams, roads, bridges, airstrips)
• Secondary: Energy challenges and opportunities
• Primary: Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)
• Secondary: luniper and/or rhododendron
• Primary: Computers, Internet and globalization
• Secondary: Gender equity and other issues
The extended schedule (beyond 2008) is provisional. We seek you feedback on these
and other focal areas. Please visit our Web site for updates and discussion.
Volume 4
Issue 6
Page 1-76
ISSN 1727 5210
Himalayan Journal of
Volume 4, Issue 6, 2007
Page 1-76
Cover image: retreating
glaciers in the Himalayas;
story p 21
Published by
Himalayan Association for
the Advancement of Science
Lalitpur, Nepal
GPO Box No. 2838
An open access database for Himalayan
environmental management
Environmental management in the
Himalayas requires creation of a database
with collaborative public sharing of data
Sahotra Sarkar
Page 7-8
Road to ruin
Tough laws won't save poor nation's
ecosystems until the impacts of developments
are taken seriously
William Laurance
Page 9
research paper
Conservation area networks for the Indian
region: Systematic methods and future
Sahotra Sarkar, Michael Mayfield, Susan
Cameron, Trevon Fuller and lustin Garson
Page 27-40
Expansion of an ancient lake in the
Kathmandu basin of Nepal during the
Late Pleistocene evidenced by lacustrine
sediment underlying piedmont slope
Kiyoshi Saijo and Kazuo Kimura
Page 41-48
Phenology and water relations of eight
woody species in the Coronation Garden of
Kirtipur, central Nepal
Bharat B Shrestha, Yadav Uprety, Keshav
Nepal, Sandhya Tripathi and Pramod KIha
Page 49-56
policy and development
Acts of God are not the problem
Human negligence turns hazards into
Seth Sicroff
Page 11-19
Volunteer expedition brings modern health
care to Rolwaling
Pepper Etters
Page 14-15
An assessment of contemporary glacier
fluctuations in Nepal's Khumbu Himal using
repeat photography
Alton C Byers
Page 21-26
Plant species richness and composition in
a trans-Himalayan inner valley of Manang
district, central Nepal
Mohan P Panthi, Ram P Chaudhary and Ole
R Vetaas
Page 57-64
Production of haploid wheat plants from
wheat (Triticum aestivum L) x maize
(Zea mays L) cross system
Raj K Niroula, Hari P Bimb, Dhruva B Thapa,
Bindeswor P Sah and Sanothos Nayak
Page 65-69
Distribution pattern and habitat preference
of barking deer (Muntiacus muntjac
Zimmermann) in Nagarjun forest,
Ajaya Nagarkoti and Tej Bahadur Thapa
Page 70-74
 Editorial Policy
Himalayan Journal of Sciences (ISSN 1727 5210 print issue and 1727 5229 online) is a peer-reviewed annual multi-disciplinary journal.
HJS invites authors to share their expertise, discoveries and speculations.
Mission Statement: HJS is dedicated to the promotion ot scientitic research, informed discourse, and enlightened stewardship of
natural and cultural systems in the Himalayan region.
Scope: The problems and opportunities confronting the Himalayan region are so broad and interrelated as to resist treatment within
traditional academic disciplines; accordingly, the Himalayan Journal of Sciences publishes articles of scientific merit based on
investigations in all fields of enquiry pertinent to the natural and cultural systems of the Himalayan region.
Contribution Categories: HJS publishes works pertinent to the scope of the journal in the following categories: a) Research papers:
Report on original research; b) Review papers: Thorough account of current developments and trajectories in a given field; c) Articles:
Narrowly-focused account of current development in a given field; d) Editorial: Opinionated essay on an issue of public interest; e)
Essay: Similar to editorial but longer and more comprehensive; may include tables and figures; f) Commentary and Correspondence:
Persuasive and informed commentary on any topical issues or on articles published in prior issues of the journal; g) Policy and
development: Usually a hybrid of opinion and review papers covering a broad topic with rigorous analysis of the issue and bearing on
policies relating to science and/or development. The focus may be rather specific, and it may contain primary data or new model of
substantial significance; h) Resource review: Evaluation of books, websites, CD-ROMs, and other resources; i) Publication preview:
Description of forthcoming books; j) Announcement: Notice of forthcoming conferences, seminars, workshops, and other events.
Guide to Authors
Guide to authors is available online Please choose "Article preparation and submission" menu and select "Guide
to authors".
We grant permission to make digital or hard copies of part or all of any article published in HJS for personal or educational use. There
is no fee for such use. However, the first page or screen of the display should include the notice "Copyright © [YEAR OF PUBLICATION]
by the Himalayan Association for the Advancement of Science," along with the full citation of the paper. We assert the authors' moral
right to post their papers on their personal or home institution's Web pages and to make and distribute unlimited photocopies of their
papers. In all of the above cases, HimAAS expects to be informed of such use, in advance or as soon as possible. Using an article or
part of it for commercial purposes and republication in print on the Internet is not permited without prior permission. HimAAS does not
grant permission to copy articles (or parts of articles) that are owned by others.
We would like to acknowledge the logistic support (office space, computers, furniture) of International Center for Integrated Mountain
Development (ICIMOD). To all our reviewers and authors, for your patience and persistence: Thank you!
Special Acknowledgments
In the business of dissemination of new knowledge relevant to Himalaya, we are assisted in our publication and pre-publication work
by certain commercial collaborators. By offering HJS generous discounts (and in some cases waiving all fees), they have significantly
reduced our publication costs. We have tried to reciprocate in a small measure by including notices of their services. ScanPro,
WordScape and Jagadamba Press: Thank you for standing with us in this venture!
Cover design: Hari Marasini,
WordScape Crossmedia
Kathmandu, Tel: 4229825
Printed at: Jagadamba
Press, Hattiban, Lalitpur, Tel:
Color separation: ScanPro,
Pulchowk, Lalitpur, Tel:
We were unable to publish our
journal in 2006. To accommodate
editors' time constraints, the
publication schedule has been
temporarily changed from half-
yearly to annual.
HJS does not bear any responsibility for the views expressed by
authors in the journal.
Himalayan Journal of
scientific information for the advancement of society
An open access database for Himalayan
environmental management
Environmental management in the Himalayas requires creation of a
database with collaborative public sharing of data
Sahotra Sarkar
From arid high terrain in the northwest, through the world's highest peaks in the mid-regions,
to tropical wet forests in the southeast, the Himalayan region includes some of the most
biologically diverse habitats on Earth as well as homes to a bewildering variety of cultures.
During the last half-century it has increasingly become clear that though some parts of the
region are ecologically fragile, while others remain relatively intact, all are facing the uncertain
effects of climate change. Recent research has established, though not beyond controversy, that the
popular model of catastrophic environmental degradation in the Himalayas due to overpopulation and
deforestation has little empirical support: understanding the dynamics of environmental change requires
attention to socio-political oppression, resource
appropriation   by   outsiders,   and   other   social
factors (ives 2006). Consequently, Himalayan Reliable analyses of environmental processes
environmental planning must be based on region- and dynamics on a regional scale require the
wide data on socio-economic structures besides        availability and easy accessibility of relevant
the customary data on physical and biological
features, including the geographical distribution data from  acr0SS the re9'0n-  To Understand
of all data. Because ethically appropriate planning the mechanisms behind environmental pro-
must accommodate the cultural diversity of        cesses and dynamics so as to make accurate
the region, besides its biological and physical .. .. . .,      . .
,      ■_ tU  a +     +      a+ ik predictions of the future, we need adequate
drversrty, the data sets used must necessarily be r it
both extensive and also have a sufficiently high information on the physical, biological and
resolution to support planning at the local level at socio-economic features of a region. In the
whichmostdiversityismanifestedAvastamount        Himalayan region we need to collect, collate,
ol data must be collected and analyzed.
The purpose of this Editorial is to call for the        and provide public access to such data on a
collaborative creation of an open access database regional Scale...
to help meet that challenge. The goal should be
to provide free and reliable data sharing between
researchers and planners throughout the region (and elsewhere) and to create a database that meets
the strictest international standards for functionality. For biodiversity data, several such transnational
databases exist (for instance, those maintained by the World Conservation Monitoring [http: / /www.unep -] and NatureServe []) though they all provide sporadic coverage
and are remarkably poor in Himalayan data.
Creating a dedicated Himalayan database will break new ground. But such a project has to be
implemented carefully. Specifically, the database should conform to the following six principles:
• The database must be open access with public sharing of all data. We are living in an age of increased
recognition that academic and intellectual exchange is not well served by proprietary attitudes
towards data and software—witness the success of projects such as R, OpenBugs, and GenBank, to
name just a few of the many successful open access initiatives. Increasingly journals are requiring
software to be open access as a condition for publication. Throughout the world, the trend is towards
the non-proprietary creation of intellectual products.
• The effort to create the database must be truly collaborative, drawing in researchers from all
 I Editorial
the Himalayan regions. There have been many
transnational efforts in the Himalayas in recent years
(Wikramanayake et al. 2001, CEPF 2005, WWF and
ICIMOD 2005) but coverage has not been uniform over
the entire region. For instance, there has been less effort
directed to Sikkim or Arunachal Pradesh than to many
other parts ofthe Indian Himalayas and to Nepal. As the
database gets developed, these biases must be corrected
to ensure homogeneous coverage of all regions.
All data must be geo-referenced and have their
provenance recorded. This is the most important
requirement that the database must satisfy. Almost all
environmental planning today is spatial. Recording
locational co-ordinates with GPS units has become
technologically trivial and inexpensive and there is
no reason not to record such data systematically in
every project. Unfortunately there is at present very
little high resolution geo-referenced biodiversity data
for the Himalayas and this is a major impediment to
scientific research. Almost none of the existing records
in museums and other databases provide precise
longitude-latitude co-ordinates. With respect to socioeconomic data, all that often exists are summaries at the
level of political units such as sub-divisions, districts, and
provinces. This situation must be changed. It is equally
important to record the method of collection ofthe data
so that future researchers can independently assess the
reliability of data sets and their appropriateness for their
specific research needs.
The database should be made available at several
different mirror sites both within the Himalayan region
and outside, wherever there is significant research
and policy interest in the region. Several universities,
research institutes and academies within the region,
especially in China, India, and Nepal, as well as
the International Centre for Integrated Mountain
Development (ICIMOD) are natural host sites and
should be brought into the discussion as the database
is planned.
The process of creating the database will require
significant commitment to the information technology
infrastructure of the host sites within the Himalayan
region. Developing this infrastructure should be
accompanied by relevant technology transfer and
capacity building, especially the transfer of knowhow
to young researchers from the Himalayan region.
Collaborators from Northern institutions must make an
explicit commitment to the training of local personnel,
and this commitment must be monitored.
Finally, care must be taken to ensure the proper
design of the database so that eventual growth in size
does not destroy functionality. The software must be
stable. Database queries should receive fast answers.
There must be variable ways of searching, for instance,
based on taxonomic or geographical specifications.
Data should be downloadable in a variety of formats.
Contributors should be able to upload data and edit
their own information easily following a straightforward
protocol. There are many other such criteria and these
...Analyses based on such data will both advance our
understanding of regional environmental challenges
and also let us assess the geopolitically convenient
explanations of environmental problems that the
countries and institutions in the region have long
advocated. It is high time we create a collaborative
open-access database that can receive public input
and access to data while meeting international
standard of functionality.
should be discussed and correctly implemented from
the outset.
An example of a collaborative open access database is the Latin
American Biodiversity Database (
biodiversity/) which does not include socio-economic data.
However, it is a helpful pointer to where to take efforts to
initiate a database project for the Himalayas.
The expertise and technological and financial resources
required to create such a database are not particularly
daunting. However, for success, co-operation will be
necessary fromregionalandinternationalmuseums, herbaria,
and other repositories of information from the region such as
the Kew Gardens ( and the California
Academy of Sciences ( Much
of the traditional data stored in these repositories may be
useless for most planning purposes because they are not
georeferenced. However, they may still be valuable for
historical analyses. Most importantly, the bulk of the data
must come from individual researchers who must be brought
into collaboration in all aspects of the project—including
its design and management—so that everyone remains
committed to the goals of data sharing and open access.
There should be no doubt that such a project would be
valuable and that it can be implemented—if there is the will.
Sahotra Sarkar is a professor of biology (Section of Integrative
Biology) and philosophy (Department of Philosophy) at
University of Texas at Austin, USA
CEPF [Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund] 2005. Ecosystem profile:
Indo-Burman hotspot, Eastern Himalayan region. Washington:
WWF US-Asian Program. 97 p
Ives ID. 2006. Himalayan perceptions: Environmental change and
the well-being of mountain peoples, 2nd ed. Lalitpur (Nepal):
Himalayan Association for the Advancement of Science. 284 p
Wikramanayake E, Dinerstein E, Loucks C, Olson D, Morrison
I, Lamoreux I, McKnight M and P Hedao. 2001. Terrestrial
ecoregions of the Indo-Pacific: A conservation assessment.
Washington: Island Press
WWF and ICIMOD. 2001. Ecoregion-based conservation in the
Eastern Himalaya: identifying important areas for biodiversity
conservation. Katmandu: WWF Nepal. 178 p
 Road to ruin
Tough laws won't save poor nations' ecosystems until the impacts
of developments are taken seriously
William Laurance
Dozens of Indonesians killed by landslides this
spring have paid the price of unchecked development. Many other innocents in developing
nations die each year as rampant illegal logging
and deforestation denude steep hillsides, loosening soil and allowing heavy rains to create deadly deluges.
Such environmental perils are increasingly common
across much of the world as native forests are fragmented,
waterways polluted, and oceans over-harvested. The
onslaught is especially alarming in the tropics, where an
area of forest the size of 40 football fields is destroyed every
minute. Thousands - perhaps millions - of species are at risk.
Yet remarkably, many developing nations have good
laws to regulate development and protect their natural
ecosystems. Indonesia, Brazil, Bolivia and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, for example, all have strong forestry
codes and environmental laws. So why aren't they working?
A key problem is that environmental impact assessments
(EIAs), required by law for most development projects, are
often utterly inadequate. Nowhere is this clearer than in
Brazilian Amazonia, which is yielding to the biggest expansion
in paved highways in its history. By greatly increasing access
to the heart of the Amazon, these highways are opening a
Pandora's box of threats such as illegal logging, hunting,
mining and land colonisation. But the EIAs for these new
highways only evaluated the direct effects on the narrow strip
of land being cleared for each road. None of the alarming
indirect impacts that commonly follow highway construction
were covered.
A similarly narrow evaluation is under way for the
planned expansion of the Panama Canal, which will allow
supertankers to travel the waterway. As less than 700 hectares
of rainforest will be destroyed, everyone expects the project
will get the green light. Yet this $5.2 billion scheme will
have a profound impact on a nation as small as Panama.
Increased land speculation, overheated development and
growing demand for construction timber will put pressure on
forests across the country. Even cursory consideration ofthe
project's indirect effects reveals these issues.
In addition, many EIAs are laughably superficial.
For example, a biological survey for a planned housing
complex in Panama's suburban forests identified only 12
common bird species. A 2-hour census of the same area by
experienced birdwatchers tallied 121, including several rare
and threatened species. The project was approved despite
scientists' warnings to the authorities of flaws in the study.
Why are EIAs often so poor? Firstly, they are usually paid
for by the project backer, who pushes to ensure approval with
minimum costs. In such a system, environmental firms that
Environmental impact
assessments are often
laughably superficial.
get projects accepted with
few mitigation measures are
in high demand, while those
with a rigorous reputation
are avoided.
Secondly, government 	
agencies that evaluate EIAs
often fail to apply their own environmental rules. The process
is also vulnerable to corruption, since government employees
are often poorly paid while project backers have deep pockets
and a large financial stake to protect. Even EIAs with glaring
faults are sometimes approved.
Finally, it is rare for a project to be halted on environmental grounds because the burden of proof falls on those
who oppose it, not those who favour it. A planned highway
might sever a critical forest corridor, or open up a pristine
valley to exploitation, but unless it can be shown that it would
irreparably harm an endangered species or rare ecosystem,
the road may be approved regardless. Fighting development
projects takes considerable time, money and expertise, and
this stacks the deck heavily against citizens and public-
interest groups who often oppose risky developments.
What can be done to improve the situation? Increasing
public awareness should help focus attention on the EIA
process and its many weaknesses - including a dire need
to evaluate both the direct and indirect impacts of major
projects. Equally important is greater involvement by society
and by environmental groups. Government agencies that
approve or halt projects are often responsive to external
pressure, and they rely on lobbying by conservationists to
help balance development forces. If you want to help the
global environment, supporting an active environmental
group in a developing nation may be a key strategy.
Of course, serious flaws in EIAs are not confined to
developing countries. The drafter of the US Environmental
Protection Act, Lynton Caldwell, has often bemoaned the
failure of EIAs to balance the needs of nature against human
activities. But in developing nations, conservation interests
are often less established, and pressures for exploitation
are stronger and more immediate. Better environmental
decision-making is crucial if we are to limit these growing
threats to the natural world.
Reprinted with permission from New Scientist, issue 2607,
06 June 2007, page 25
William Laurance is a biologist at the Smithsonian Tropical
Research Institute in Panama. His latest book is "Emerging
Threats to Tropical Forests" (with Carlos Peres, University of
Chicago Press, 2006).
 Special announcement
Call for nominations:
Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal
For current Hillary Medal information,
The Sir Edmund Hillary Medal is sponsored by the
Environment and Planning Program of The Royal Melbourne
Institute of Technology University (
Description of medal
The Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal was
initiated in 2003 both in order to recognize Sir Edmund's
life-long commitment to the welfare of mountain people
and their environment and also to encourage the continuing
emulation of his example. Sir Edmund's contributions and
the work ofthe foundations he founded or inspired in New
Zealand, Canada, United States and Germany have resulted
in the construction of some thirty schools, two airstrips, two
hospitals and eleven village clinics as well as a reforestation
program in Sagarmatha National Park. Authorized by Sir
Edmund Hillary himself, the Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain
Legacy Medal was initiated in 2003 by Mountain Legacy, a
Nepalese NGO (
Nomination return date
Nominations and supporting material, whether submitted in
hardcopy or electronic form, are due by midnight (Australian
Eastern Daylight Time) on Friday, February 22, 2008.
Qualification criteria
The Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal is awarded
"for remarkable service in the conservation of culture and
nature in remote mountainous regions."
• Nominees working in remote mountainous regions
anywhere in the world are eligible.
• As the award is for both cultural and environmental
conservation,nominees should be working in inhabited
remote mountain regions.
• One purpose of this award is to draw attention to efforts
that are in need of broader support; therefore nominees
should be currently engaged in such a project.
• Nominations of third parties as well as self-nominations
will be accepted.
• Hillary Medal recipients cannot be re-nominated;
however, unsuccessful candidates may be re-nominated
without prejudice.
• Two or more individuals may share a joint nomination
if equal credit is due for the same project(s); however, in
such a case only one medal will be awarded.
• The identities of nominators and of unsuccessful
nominees shall remain confidential.
Former Sir Edmund Medal winners
2003: Husband and wife team of Michael Schmitz and Helen
Cawley who for the previous decade had been working
on keystone cultural and ecological projects in the Solu-
Khumbu area of Nepal. Their work entailed assessing the
requirements ofthe recently reconstructed Tengboche
Monastery and implementing improvements including
drinking water supply, sanitary facilities, porter lodge,
accommodations for the monks, information center, clinic
staffed by trained amchi (traditional Tibetan medicine
specialist), reforestation, and conservation of endangered
Schmitz and Cawley also carried out the Thubten
Chholing Monastery Development Project at the request of
His Holiness Trulshik Rinpoche, one ofthe teachers ofthe
Dalai Lama. This monastery houses more than 300 monks
who sought refuge there after fleeing Chinese oppression in
Tibet. The project entailed construction of a new large prayer
hall, kitchen, dining hall, classrooms, printing press, library,
water system, toilets and hydro-power station.
2006: Dr Alton C Byers, Director of Research and Education
at the Mountain Institute based in Elkins, West Virginia.
From 1993 to 1994 Byers worked with the local residents
and the government of Nepal to establish the Makalu-Barun
National Park and Conservation Area. From 1994 to 1996 he
founded and directed programs in the Huascaran National
Park, Peru. Between 1998 and 2000, Dr Byers directed
the Appalachian Program and the 400-acre Spruce Knob
Mountain Centre in West Virginia.
Byers' work has been instrumental in bringing
awareness to the critical environmental damage that was
occurring in the alpine meadow and sub alpine ecosystems
with his project "Community-Based Conservation and
Restoration of the Everest Alpine Zone Project". With support
from the American Alpine Club and National Geographic
Society this project has now become a Sherpa-directed
program aimed at protecting and restoring the fragile
ecosystems ofthe Khumbu that have been damaged by
decades of under-regulated adventure tourism.
More information and nomination form
Contact: Dr Beau B Beza
Chair, Hillary Medal Selection Committee
Environment and Planning Program
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University
E-mail:, URL:
This information may be posted or published without
specific permission.
 Policy and development
Acts of God are not the problem
Human negligence turns hazards into disasters
Seth Sicroff
Mountain tourism both increases the risks posed by mountain hazards and also provides the economic opportunity to
effectively cope with those hazards. Salient points and recommendations from participants in "Mountain Hazards, Mountain
Tourism" e-conference include:
Although climate change is increasing the likelihood of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), we now have the
scientific tools to monitor and quantify such hazards.
Unfortunately, those tools are not being used on a regular basis. This increases the hazard of media sensationalism,
which in turn increases the risk of serious economic damage as well as lost scientific credibility.
Contrary to published reports, the hazard mitigation project at Tsho Rolpa in Rolwaling was left in an incomplete
state and without provision for scientific monitoring; the lake still poses a great risk.
More attention must be paid to the human component of mountain hazards. Ethnic cleansing programs such as the
current disaster in Bhutan cause suffering and economic damage on a scale that beggars most natural events.
A useful step toward the rational confrontation with all sorts of disasters (not just those that impact mountains)
would be the conversion of King Gyanendra's palace into a Disaster Management University.
This paper is a synthesis of an e-conference held on the
Mountain Legacy listserv from Nov 7 to Dec 7, 2006. The
discussion was originally intended as a precursor to a
"face-to-face" event, The Rolwaling Conference: Mountain
Hazards, Mountain Tourism, which was canceled due to
lack of sufficient funding. The wrap-up is by no means
comprehensive; we urge you to read the details in the
archived discussion at
The Rolwaling Conference was to have three
interlocking agendas: a general theme (mountain
hazards as they relate to mountain tourism), a
specific geographic focus on Rolwaling Valley,
and a logistical and conceptual roundtable on a
proposed interdisciplinary research station to be established
in Rolwaling Valley. The latter theme was omitted from the
e-conference agenda.
Active participation in the e-conference was limited
primarily to important presentations from three experts,
plus ancillary discussion and commentary by a few
other participants. A keynote presentation, "Fools rush
in: A mountain dilemma", was contributed by Prof lack
D Ives, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. A second
feature presentation was "Glacial hazard assessment and
risk management: Lessons from Tsho Rolpa and new
perspectives," by Professor fohn M Reynolds, Managing
Director, Reynolds Geo-Sciences, Ltd (RGSL). Dr fanice
Sacherer, an anthropologist with the University of Maryland
University College Asia (Okinawa) contributed "Tsho
Rolpa, GLOFs, and the Sherpas of Rolwaling Valley: A brief
anthropological perspective."
Mountain tourism
Tourism has the potential to alleviate many problems in
impoverished mountain areas. First, it offers economic
opportunities that are greater and also less destructive than
extractive industries (such as logging or hunting) and out-
migration. Second, tourism generally entails the expansion
of services deemed necessary for recreational comfort.
Electricity, medical services, imported foods, warmer
clothing, and other perquisites are eventually extended to
host communities. In the same way, concern for the safety of
tourists (as well as downstream infrastructure) can result in
huge expenditures for the mitigation of hazards which would
not likely be undertaken merely for the sake of those who live
with them on a year-round basis.
The downside of tourism is dependency on a market
that can collapse instantaneously and for reasons beyond
the control of those involved in the tourism trade. Global
and regional political instability, terrorism, and economic
recession can all effectively quench people's taste for
recreational travel. Real or perceived hazards at the remote
destination site can result in a redirection of traffic that may
last longer than the threat itself, whether or not the disaster
Mountain hazards
What exactly do we mean by "mountain hazards"? Normally
we think of threats to human life and property that are
posed by natural processes - generally by extreme events,
often aggravated (or even caused) by human activity. Floods
and mass wasting are the most familiar agents. But if we
are thinking in terms of mitigation strategies, we should
probably look at the entire range of "bad things" that happen
in the mountains. In this context, Ives brings up the ongoing
 Policy and development
Bhutanese "crimes against humanity," which have caused
more suffering than nearly any other mountain disaster on
record, and also pose a substantial threat of regional armed
conflict. Of course, there are more commonplace disasters.
For instance, the unavailability of modern medical services
is arguably the cause of nearly every single death in remote
areas. How do we assign priorities for hazard mitigation
when the aggregate cost of ordinary flash floods during the
monsoon probably exceeds anything we might attribute to
a certifiable disaster such as a glacial lake outburst flood
On the other hand, there is a danger of paralysis in the
headlights of equity. "To do nothing unless the whole picture
is addressed," Reynolds observes, "is unrealistic."
Mountain hazard #1: The media
Both Ives and Reynolds have addressed the issue of an
ill-informed and irresponsible press. In some cases, there
is simply a distortion of expert views. Reynolds alludes to
misrepresentations even in supposedly reliable publications
such as New Scientist. However, as Ives has made clear
in Himalayan Dilemma and more recently in Himalayan
Perceptions, sensationalism is nurtured by bad science and
corrupt politics. The risks include distorted priorities (and
therefore unfair and ineffective use of limited resources),
loss of scientific credibility, defamation of population sectors
wrongly accused of causing or exacerbating the hazard, and
failure to recognize and/or act on hazards that are politically
less glamorous.
Reynolds cites the example of the 2003 fiasco
surrounding Palcacocha, Peru. The crisis began when NASA
published a press release based on ASTER satellite imagery
that was incorrectly interpreted as showing cracks in a glacier,
portending imminent collapse and glacial flood. Losses in
the tourism sector have been estimated at $20 million. Both
NASA and New Scientist, which gave the story extensive play,
declined to issue retractions or even to remove the false
reports from their Web sites.
In Nepal, the 1997 panic over the Tsho Rolpa threat led
to a costly disruption of economic activity in Rolwaling Valley,
and concomitant mass-wasting of scientific credibility.
Nonetheless, another media feeding-frenzy accompanied
the publication of the UNEP/ICIMOD7wyewfor)/o/gZa«ersfor
Nepal and Bhutan (Mool et al. 2000). Because the inventory
omitted any specific assessment of actual hazards posed by
the lakes catalogued, and because it included some lakes that
are not hazardous (while excluding some that are), it gives a
misleading impression about the extent ofthe hazards.
Reynolds agrees that media inaccuracy is a problem, but
notes that the distortions cut both ways:
Undoubtedly there have been exaggerations for effect in
some quarters, for a variety of reasons, and such excesses
are to be deplored, but so too are the protestations of
the vociferous few who downplay the seriousness of the
adverse effects of climate change, however it is caused.
Mountain hazard #2: Armed conflict
Ives points out that the greatest devastation to mountain
peoples is caused by conflict. The modalities range from
conventional warfare (as in Afghanistan and Kashmir) to
guerrilla insurrections (as in Nepal) to the "expropriation
of land for major infrastructure or for the establishment of
national parks; and pervasive discrimination against the
poor, the under-privileged, and the politically marginalized."
One under-reported and on-going disaster is the oppression
of the Lhotsampa by the government of Bhutan, resulting in
the displacement of some 100,000 refugees.
Again, Ives accuses the press and the politicians of
distorting the truth. Development agencies and donor
organizations have collaborated to whitewash Bhutan's
royal government, to accept without guffaws the king's
pap about "Gross National Happiness" even while he
perpetrates one ofthe more conspicuous programs of ethnic
cleansing. Mountain Forum, which has the responsibility to
facilitate exchange of information of practical importance
to researchers and planners, has a policy of suppressing
politically sensitive postings, thereby increasingthe likelihood
of a cultural "meltdown" with regional consequences outweighing those of natural hazards.
Mountain hazard #3: Global warming
Global climate change has been linked to a cascade of
potential or actual disasters at the regional or watershed
scale. These include increased incidence of avalanche,
proliferation of GLOFs, and disappearance of glaciers,
resulting in loss of tourist attractions as well as disruption of
the water supply on which local and downstream ecosystems
These days very few scientists deny that unusually
rapid climate change is occurring and that human activity
is a significant factor. lack Ives does however take issue
with the tenor of discourse on this significant issue. Ives
equates the Cassandraism that pervades discussion of global
warming with the previous exaggerations of the danger of
deforestation. He cites predictions by the World Bank and
the Asian Development Bank that "no accessible forest
would remain in Nepal by the year 2000" and compares these
with such reports as the 2002 article by Fred Pearce in the
New Scientist in which fohn Reynolds is quoted as warning
that "the 21st century could see hundreds of millions dead
and tens of billions of dollars in damage [from GLOFs]."
Reynolds has characterized this quote as "journalistic
licence" and "an exaggeration" of his actual statement,
although the potential impact of GLOFs and their secondary
effects would affect significant numbers of people and have
serious consequences for many vulnerable infrastructural
installations and communities downstream. Regarding the
prediction that the Himalayan glaciers will disappear and
the Ganges shrink to a mere trickle, Ives wonders at the logic:
even if the snow and ice gave way to rain, surely the rivers
would still keep running!
The problem Ives alludes to goes beyond hysterical
conclusions on the part of untrained reporters. He refers to
misleading use of supposedly "replicate photographs" that
purportedly illustrate glacial shrinkage. Reynolds argues that
the shrinkage is real and probably under-reported, due to the
fact that substantial thinning of a glacier can occur without
much measurable decrease in surface area.
 Policy and development
Band-Aid solution for a major GLOF threat: in 2000, an engineering project lowered the level of Tsho Rolpa (Rolwaling, Nepal)
by 3.5 meters - less than one-third ofthe minimum recommended by experts.
As in Himalayan Dilemma, Ives is concerned with
not only scientific credibility, the loss of which endangers
us all, but also hazard inflation. When "supercrises" (with
only long-term and speculative solutions) jostle for public
attention, how can we make any headway on the more
modest crises that can be addressed and remedied in the
short term? He cites Alton Byers' work on the destruction of
alpine vegetation as one of many unspectacular problems
- and a somewhat unusual one in that Byers seems poised
to address it effectively, thanks to a remarkable collaboration
with the American Alpine Club.
On the specific issue of GLOF hazards, Ives notes that,
contrary to prevailing wisdom, climate warming can be an
attenuating factor. He explains that water accumulations
next to and underneath glaciers normally become smaller
and drains more frequently as the glacier shrinks. As for water
accumulations behind moraines, they generally result in only
one GLOF, since the breached moraine is no longer capable
of impounding large quantities of water.
On this point, Reynolds concurs that "a warming trend
will reduce the hazard pertaining to ice-dammed lakes while
increasing that resulting from moraine-dammed lakes."
However, Reynolds cautions that repeat GLOF events are
possible, and gives the examples of Dig Tsho in Nepal's
Khumbu (still a threat), and Artesanraju at Laguna Paron
(Peru), which in 1951 experienced two GLOF events a few
months apart.
Mountain Hazard #4: GLOFs
Remote mountain tourism destinations are inherently at risk
due to their relative inaccessibility, dynamic geology, and
dramatic meteorology. The declivity and human settlement
patterns (as well as recreational activities) particularly aggravate the risks of avalanche, landslide, and flooding. GLOFs
have drawn attention in recent decades due to three factors:
• Like an inland tsunami, a GLOF can inflict a huge amount
of damage over a great distance, and poses a devastating
threat to vital infrastructure including hydroelectric
plants, bridges, and roads and trails, as well as to entire
• Like the legendary sword of Damocles, GLOF threats are
relatively easy to identify; on the other hand, the timing
of a given event is difficult to predict. And this sword cuts
both ways: inaccurate prognostications may lead to panic
and economic disaster.
• GLOFs are linked to climate change. They are likely
to occur with greater frequency as glaciers retreat. It
has been argued that they are also likely to become
increasingly common currency in political discourse, not
to mention posturing and hand-wringing.
 Policy and development
GLOFs and Politics
In his keynote presentation, "Fools rush in," lack Ives notes
that a United Nations University study of hazards in Kakani
and Khumbu (Nepal) concluded that GLOFs represent the
most serious mountain hazard in those areas, a conclusion
underscored soon afterward by the outbreak of Dig Tsho,
near Thame.
Political contingencies have hampered GLOF research
and mitigation efforts. Essential aerial photography was
classified as secret. Ives' recommendation that ICIMOD take
a lead in studying and mapping the hazards was ignored by
ICIMOD under Dr Rosser. Although Dr Vic Galay and individual
staff members ofthe Water and Energy Commission provided
assistance for Ives' research, His Majesty's Government
(HMG) ignored their recommendations. Only after global
warming had become a sexy topic in the mid-1990s did
ICIMOD (with UNEP support) produce an inventory of
potentially hazardous glacial lakes in Nepal and Bhutan.
Arun III Hydro-Electric Power Project
lack Ives gives a semi-insider's account ofthe politicization of
GLOF hazards as pertains to the aborted Arun III hydropower
project. According to Ives it was due to the generalized GLOF
fears that the World Bank and HMG undertook a narrowly
focused review of the project in 1995. Only GLOF threats
in the Arun Valley itself were to be discussed, and all other
factors were excluded from the review. While there was no
evidence of a GLOF hazard to the hydropower site itself, Teiji
Watanabe passed on to Ives his findings about the serious
GLOF threat posed by Imja Lake in the neighboring valley.
Volunteer expedition brings modern health care to Rolwaling
n the fall of 2000,1 spent a month in Rolwaling as
a member of Bridges-PRTD ("Projects in Rational
Tourism Development"), a private volunteer/study
abroad company that had was trying to help promote backpacker tourism as a resource for economic development. (See We
were quartered at the main village of Beding (3700m),
some thirty drab houses clustered around a small monastery about six days' trek up from the road head at Dolakha. At the time, there was no electricity, no health clinic,
no functioning school. The monastery was dilapidated
and the stupa had been washed away by a GLOF. Every
able-bodied man and most ofthe women had left to work
elsewhere as porters and guides, leaving only a few dozen
women, children, and lamas to tend the fields.
Although our resources were limited, we did set up
a handful of teahouses - merely by providing signs and
English menus; we bought some paint and lumber and
gave the gompa a face-lift; we identified and marked a
suitable waste disposal site; we gave a few lectures on
first aid, and donated a trunk-load of medical supplies.
A Kathmandu engineering firm was hired to produce a
feasibility study and design for a micro-hydro plant.
Since 2003, Bridges-PRTD had suspended operations
due to the political instability in Nepal. As often happens
with small development efforts, we had raised hopes but
failed to follow through with the kind of assistance that
might make a long-term difference.
Last October I was finally able to pull together an
expedition of health care professionals with the objective
of decisively upgrading healthcare facilities in Beding
and sharing with this remote community the advantages
of modern science. The team included my wife lody
Swoboda Etters, Medical Director Laurie Strasburger
PA-C, Ken Zawaki MD, Ami Zawaki MD, Kristi LaRock
PA-C, Clairane Vost RN, Tom Willard EMT, Vannessa
Willard, Eddie Sandoval and Perry LaRock. Our support
network included anthropologist fanice Sacherer, climber
Nick Arding, Everest veterans Ion Gangdal and Dawa
Chirri Sherpa ofthe Rolwaling Foundation, and Scott
MacLennan and his staff at the Mountain Fund. Unlike
the situation that prevailed back in 2000, when virtually
no one outside Nepal had heard of Rolwaling, there is
now an international web of individuals and groups
interested in both the valley and its people.
On the trail north along the Tamba, not much had
changed since 2000. The road had been extended to
Singate, which meant we didn't have to deal with the
2000m descent (and ascent, coming back) just northeast
of Dolakha. There were no signs ofthe sort of prosperity
you see along the Everest trail - the fact that Rolwaling
had been closed to independent trekkers for thirty years
meant that most visitors passed through in self-contained
caravans, contributing precious little to the economy.
The Maoist insurgency effectively removed the official
restrictions on travel, but few tourists wanted to face
being shaken down for a "contribution."
At our first stop, we happened on a man carrying
his eleven-year-old daughter in a dhoko, a conical wicker
basket supported by a tumpline over his head. They
were coming from Simigaon, racing toward the hospital
in Dolakha, although they had no money and were not
optimistic about getting help. It turned out that the girl
had a serious kidney infection which had lead to sepsis.
For two days we treated her with intravenous fluids
and antibiotics. It was touch-and-go the first night, but
when we parted ways she was walking and on her way to
recovery. We were soon besieged by requests for medical
In Beding, there were signs of activity. A new stupa
had been constructed, a new school built and staffed,
and a diversion project had been along the river - not
 Policy and development
Ives was able to argue that if Imja gave way, the catastrophe
would cause such consternation that it would likely derail
the nearby Arun III project. According to Ives, this argument
proved trenchant; in the end, it was fear of bad publicity,
rather than concern for human safety and ecological
sustainability, that led the German and lapanese to withdraw
their support, and killed the project.
lohn Reynolds provides a somewhat more nuanced
but not necessarily contradictory account of the demise of
Arun III. According to Reynolds, the main consultants to the
project had given the go-ahead on the basis of outdated maps
which showed no glacial lakes in the area. Alert members
of the Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS)
staff showed Reynolds much more recent photographs
that revealed there were indeed glacial lakes in the Arun
to mitigate a potential lake outburst, but to control the
normal monsoon floods. The Rolwaling Foundation is
moving ahead with plans for a small hydropower plant to
supply households with electricity as well as to develop
local lodges so that independent backpacker tourism can
finally take off.
After settling into the host families' homes, the team
was welcomed to the village with a tea ceremony in which
all the community members offered katas (ceremonial
scarves) and blessings to the volunteers. Following the
ceremony, we set to work. There was a side room attached
to the school, and we converted that into a clinic,
installing furniture and medical supplies. Solar panels
provide light and charging capacity for small equipment,
including a microscope donated by Colorado Mountain
Medical, a clinic in Vail, Colorado. At the same time, we
undertook public health improvements in areas such as
sanitation, drinking water, waste management, nutrition
and first aid training.
Meanwhile we were training fangmu, the Nepali
nurse hired to run the clinic on a long-term basis. Together
we treated villagers for a variety of complaints. There were
relatively few acute infections and injuries, while chronic
and persistent disorders were much more prevalent. Respiratory diseases, cataracts, arthritis, tooth decay, gingivitis, and arthritis are all too common. While we were able to
deal with most problems, several could not be addressed
without more advanced diagnostics. A few members of the
community may have cancer and other life threatening
illnesses, but without making the trek to Katmandu, we
couldn't be sure, much less provide effective treatment.
During the ten days we spent in the Rolwaling Valley,
we also encountered a substantial demand for medical
services on the part of tourists. Despite the fact that most
packaged tours had medical supplies and trained staff, we
were called on to provide assistance for quite a few cases
of altitude sickness. As tourist traffic increases, we expect
this need to increase.
We have begun to look for resources to address
catchment. At the request of the World Bank, Reynolds
produced a "notional scheme" to assess the actual hazard
and was granted $500,000 to carry it out, but the entire
scheme was suddenly aborted; to date, no glacial hazard
assessment has ever been carried out in the Arun Valley.
Reynolds reports that the Germans withdrew because they
Pepper Etters
these issues and hope to bring volunteer specialists
including dentists and oral surgeons, eye surgeons and
orthopedists as well as additional general practitioners
who will continue to train and support fangmu and her
eventual successors so that they can continue to care for
the community with whom they have been entrusted.
On a personal note, I would like to add that I am
saddened by the recent death of Sir Edmund Hillary. Both
as a member of Bridges-PRTD and as the organizer of
this medical expedition, I have been keenly aware that we
are following in the huge footsteps ofthe man who gave
the world an enduring model of volunteer development.
Sir Edmund undertook only those projects specifically
requested. He made it clear that he was undertaking
this work out of gratitude for Sherpa collaboration
on a project that had brought him immense personal
satisfaction (as well as world fame). He didn't proselytize
or set conditions; he came and personally participated in
the projects; and he returned, again and again and again.
I hope that the death of Sir Edmund will remind people of
his work, and the work that remains to be done. The need
is great, and the experience is life-transforming.
Pepper Etters
Pepper Etters directs Rolwaling Health Care Project,
and owns Adventurous Spirit Photography (http://
 Policy and development
considered the project "flawed," but not because ofthe Imja
Lake GLOF hazard. Based on research subsequently carried
out by his team, Reynolds does not consider Imja Lake a
"major hazard," although he says it should be monitored.
According to fohn Reynolds' account, concern about the
GLOF risk at Tsho Rolpa can be dated to the 1991 outbreak
flood from Chubung, a much smaller lake; the damage
from this relatively minor event led the community to start
worrying what would happen if the much larger Tsho Rolpa
were to give way.
Even after the partial fix, the known threat from Tsho
Rolpa is much greater than that from any other Himalayan
glacial lake. According to the Web site ofthe Department of
Hydrology and Meteorology,
If the dam breaches, about 30-35 million m3 of water
could be released and the resulting GLOF could cause
serious damage for 100 km or more downstream,
threatening lives, villages, farmland, bridges, trials, roads,
60 MW Khimti Hydro power and other infrastructure.
The story ofthe Tsho Rolpa mitigation project is in many ways
just as alarming as the hazard threat itself. Even Reynolds'
brief account is far too detailed to bear summarizing here,
but I will highlight some of the points that I consider most
1. Pleas for assistance from the Sherpas themselves were
ignored both by the Nepalese government and by the
many embassies they addressed. It was only the fortuitous
visit and subsequent persistence of a Dutch national that
resulted in international assistance. This unforeseeable
good fortune was frittered away in a diplomatic freeze-
out between the Netherlands and Nepal that developed
out of an incident involving an unauthorized Dutch
movie filmed in Nepal. Although Reynolds himself does
not explicitly make the point, I think it is rather clear
that without his largely pro bono work, and his unusual
prior experience in Peru, the Tsho Rolpa project would
not have had much chance of success. In other words,
there simply was no viable procedure in place capable
of dealing routinely with such hazards; that situation
persists today largely unchanged.
2. Efforts to mitigate the Tsho Rolpa threat were stymied by
political insouciance and bureaucratic malice. In 1996,
after several years of research and experimentation with
siphons, the project was moved from the Water and Energy
Commission Secretariat (WECS) to the Department of
Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM). The WECS GLOF
unit was cut loose. The lapanese workers went home.
Some Nepalis went to ICIMOD. Reynolds observes, "This
has been the source of the friction between ICIMOD and
DHM ever since and was to play a part in the public fracas
associated with the 1997 work."
3. Plans developed by scientists in consideration of
extremely important circumstances were unwisely
disregarded by bureaucrats both in Nepal and elsewhere.
The Dutch eliminated Reynolds' proposal for "integrated
hazard management," resulting in a situation where the
locals do not have resources or expertise to manage the
project after installation.
4. The 1997 panic over an impending outbreak flood at Tsho
Rolpa was due to irresponsible and inaccurate reporting
by the media, aggravated by what Reynolds characterizes
as "sniping from the sidelines by former WECS staff who
were opposed to DHM's handling of the matter and
were holding press conferences that had the effect of
undermining DHM's position."
5. While the Tsho Rolpa GLOF Risk Reduction Program
successfully reduced the lake level by 3.5 meters in
2000, research conducted between 1997 and 2000 led
scientists to conclude that internationally recognized
safety standards could be achieved only through further
reduction by 11.5 meters, and preferably by 16.5 meters.
This recommendation, along with recommendations
that the moraine be monitored on a continuing basis,
has not been implemented. In fact, moraine stability has
not been assessed since 2000. Given Reynolds' findings
that thermokarstic degeneration within the moraine can
occur more rapidly than previously suspected, further
remediation efforts are urgently needed.
Tsho Rolpa: the human impact
According to oral histories collected by fanice Sacherer, the
only notable event reported up to the time of her doctoral
research in 1974 was the temporary blocking ofthe Rolwaling
River by a snow avalanche; this occurred sometime between
1900 and 1950 and there were no fatalities.
A warming trend is responsible for more recent
developments. The thawed moraine on the north side of Tsho
Rolpa has turned the trail over Tashi Labtsa pass (19,000 ft
above sea level) into a monstrous Plinko game, with rocks of
all sizes careening down on travelers. In the late 1990s, traffic
shifted to a new longer trail on the south side of the glacier.
There have also been two GLOFs in recent decades.
In 1979, a comparatively small event issued from a south-
facing glacier on Menlung Pass directly north of Beding, and
resulted in the death of a woman who was grinding grain at a
water-powered mill at the confluence ofthe Menlung stream
and the Rolwaling River.
Regarding the second GLOF, I quote Sacherer's account:
In 1991, a much larger GLOF occurred when a lake
under the ice of the Ripimo Shar glacier, a south facing
glacier on the east side of a small high altitude north-
south valley above the village of Na, burst through the
ice. This happened in the late afternoon of a summer
religious festival... in the village of Beding when almost
all of the Rolwaling people were gathered at the temple
in Beding. The villagers first noticed that the Rolwaling
River had turned brown and then that it began rising
rapidly. Dressed in their holiday finery, they ran uphill,
as Beding is located in a narrower part ofthe valley. The
flooding went on until dark, washing away the village
chorten and some houses and potato fields. Thus the
people of Rolwaling spent the entire night out in the
open in the rain, as high on the hill as they could climb.
 Policy and development
Today, they are still dealing with the erosion caused by
the river and the loss of some of their best potato fields.
Sacherer disputes the accuracy of certain press reports on
the reaction of the Rolwalingpa to the Tsho Rolpa threat.
Contrary to assertions that the Sherpas were not disturbed
by the threat because they consider Tsho Rolpa the sacred
precinct of a goddess, she points out that while nearby Oma'i
Tsho (fed by Ripimo Shar glacier) is sacred to the local goddess
Tseringma, Tsho Rolpa is said to be the home of only a few Iii
(naga), lower-status snake divinities. If there was aperception
that the Rolwaling people were not afraid, Sacherer suggests
that it was probably due to "Sherpa fatalism and courage in
the face of adversity" rather than lack of concern.
According to Sacherer, fear of an outburst of Tsho
Rolpa was a major factor leading to outmigration of most
of the Rolwaling community. About 85% of the population
now spend nine or more months outside the valley. She
admits that Kathmandu offers advantages other than
safety, including comfort, as well as better employment
opportunities and schooling for the children; moreover, for
newly wealthy mountain guides and tour operators, building
a house in Kathmandu is a better investment than building
one in Rolwaling given that both government policies and the
Maoist insurgency had effectively impeded tourism.
The result, according to Sacherer, is that the permanent
residents of Rolwaling are "predominantly the old, the poor,
the alcoholic, the incapacitated, and those with no close
relatives in Kathmandu - the very people who could least afford
to lose everything." Furthermore, since the likelihood is that a
GLOF would strike during the monsoon, when most of the
economically productive members of the community are in
the valley, the disaster would have long-term repercussions.
Since the valley has little usable space, most of which would
be rendered useless by debris, the valley would probably
be abandoned, which Sacherer speculates would have a
"national impact, as an abandoned valley lying just south of
the Tibeto-Chinese border would not be seen as politically
desirable from the Nepalese government's point of view."
Based on interviews conducted during three Bridges-
PRTD expeditions to Rolwaling, I doubt that the GLOF
threat is the immediate cause of current out-migration from
Rolwaling. As Sacherer points out, most of the community
returns to the valley precisely when it is most vulnerable - and
when comfort and employment opportunities in Kathmandu
are at low ebb. Furthermore, many Rolwaling informants
seem dubious of the imminence of the threat. This may
be due to the fact that the widely publicized predictions of
1997 did not come true, and also because people have been
reassured by the 3-meter reduction in the lake level. (A recent
communication from Sacherer notes that "As for Tsho Rolpa,
[the Rolwalingpas] unanimously trust in western technology
and believe that there is no further danger because of the
amelioration work already done.")
Whether or not the GLOF risk is still a factor in
outmigration, Sacherer is clearly correct that the hazard
has hampered attempts to raise funds for development
in Rolwaling. Without electrification (and light, heat,
telephones,    and    internet),    the    Kathmandu-educated
Urgent recommendations from "Mountain Hazards,
Mountain Tourism" symposium include:
• rigorous application of available assessment
and mitigation technology,
• international attention to simmering Bhutanese
problem, and
• conversion of King Gyanendra's palace into a
Disaster Management University.
generation will probably not return to settle in Rolwaling.
Certainly, there has been a delay in the development of teahouse tourism, and concomitant economic opportunity, due
to the lack of amenities.
Perceived development needs in Rolwaling
Based on interviews in Kathmandu and correspondence with
recent visitors to Rolwaling, Sacherer reports on the status of
development. These are the areas of need most commonly
River containment Sacherer reports that the most pressing
need is for control of the Rolwaling River, especially as it
passes Beding. In the 1990s, the river destroyed the largest
area of arable land in the area, in addition to the village
chorten and three houses. The greatest damage was caused
by the 1991 Chubung GLOF. However, the containment
walls that were undertaken in 1999 were intended primarily
to manage the high waters from annual monsoons. Based
on my observations and reports from village members, the
initial lowering of Tsho Rolpa was well managed and caused
no damage.
According to recent information from Dr Sacherer, a
more ambitious river control project has been already begun
with the aid of Dr Ruedi Baumgartner and Swiss Development
Cooperation. Again, it seems unlikely that this project could
be intended to control an outbreak flood from Tsho Rolpa.
Gompa restoration Now that the ruined gompa at Na (an hour
above Beding) has been rebuilt, the monastery at Beding is
an important priority. The Beding gompa is the spiritual
center of Rolwaling, a beyul or "sacred valley" according to
Tibetan Buddhist tradition. It is also the center of community
social life, hosting a year-round series of village festivals. In
2002, Bridges-PRTD volunteers donated materials and labor
to complete the precinct gateways and repaint the outer
walls and metal ornaments. However, the outer frescoes are
damaged, and those inside are in danger. Sacherer reports that
she has donated money and mobilized resources to undertake
a more substantial rehabilitation ofthe Beding gompa.
Health clinic There is a strong consensus on the need for
a health clinic, or, if that proves impossible, a mobile team,
training for a village health worker and further supplies
 Policy and development
of the type Bridges-PRTD donated several years before,
which informants agree was well administered by Ngawang
Chokling. Currently, Pepper Etters, a former Bridges-PRTD
associate, is organizing a medical expedition which will bring
supplies and training in the fall of 2007 (see box on p 14).
School The school at Beding was originally built by Sir
Edmund Hillary. However, it was unused in recent years,
both because of delapidation and because the schoolteachers
prove unreliable. Several years ago fohn Reynolds gave a
considerable sum to be used for educational upgrades, but the
entire amount was reportedly embezzled and spent on chang
(local beer). More recent efforts have resulted in a larger and
better heated structure, but staffing remains a problem.
Electricity In 2001, Bridges-PRTD commissioned a
Kathmandu-based engineering firm to do a feasibility study
for a 3.5 kw Peltric set that would have provided electric
lighting in all permanent households as well as the school
and gompa. Half the cost would have been underwritten by
a Nepal government program, leaving only about $5,000 to
raise. However, given the activities ofthe Maoist insurgents, it
was impossible to proceed with this effort. More recently there
have been renewed explorations of electrification schemes.
For the most part, the people of Rolwaling maintain a
cohesive community near Bouddha, just east of Kathmandu
proper. They would like to see enough modernization and
economic prosperity to interest their children in returning,
or at least to make it place for comfortable summer and
retirement. They are willing to invest their own resources,
and, like the Khumbu Sherpas, they have international
friends with deep pockets. If the GLOF threat is lifted and if
the new democratic government of Nepal does not reinstate
the restrictive measures that prevented development of teahouse trekking, Rolwaling has a good chance of reinventing
itself before an irreversible diaspora sets in. But there isn't
much time.
Moving ahead
An essential element of any disaster management program
must be the perception of scientific objectivity. Whatever the
reality behind the debacles discussed in our e-conference, we
know for sure from the sordid tale of Hurricane Katrina that
political cronyism, incompetence, profiteering, racism, and
indifference can and do compete with heroism, altruism and
sound judgment. What can be done to mitigate the likelihood
of bad disaster management?
Again, the media have an important role to play in
disseminating information; we should not and they cannot
be expected to be reliable unless there is an authoritative
entity to serve as an information clearinghouse. Who will
take on that role?
Finally, we need to establish a firewall between
engineering consultants who assess risk and those who
design infrastructure, in order to eliminate the potential
for and perception of conflict of interest. With the limited
available expertise pertaining to complicated hazards and
development projects, is it reasonable to hope for enough
redundancy to keep these roles separate?
Disaster U
Perhaps the time is right to found a new type of academic
institution: one based on a real-world problem rather than a
preconceived "discipline." Why not establish a Disaster Management University? Here are some ofthe considerations:
1. Many types of disasters are unlikely or rare enough that
it doesn't make sense to design an academic career
specifically for them. These would include asteroid
collision, nuclear terrorism, bird flu, mid-plate volcanism
and earthquake, and others. Even though they may seem
to pertain to disparate fields, they have important strategic
points in common, particularly rescue and evacuation.
2. The existence of a recognized degree would make it less
likely that incompetents would get into positions where
they can make the disaster more catastrophic (such as the
directorship of FEMA).
3. The establishment of a single Disaster U, presumably at
the graduate level, would probably inspire universities
around the world to offer disaster management as
an undergraduate degree. This would assure enough
redundancy of expertise to allow for informed debate,
peer review, and separation of interests.
Kathmandu would be a logical location for an international
university of this sort because of the concatenation of
man-made and natural hazards. Specifically, the royal
palace would present a perfect campus. (Presumably the
King would be offered a less pretentious and portentous
domicile somewhere outside the capital, as befits a modern
constitutional monarch.) Apart from the substantive
contributions to local as well as regional safety, an
international university would be a significant foreign-
exchange magnet for Kathmandu.
A protocol for glacial hazard assessment
Subsequent to the Arun-III debacle, the World Bank modified
its policy, requiring that proper glacial hazard assessments
be undertaken prior to approval of hydropower projects.
The UN followed suit. Yet there was no definition of what
that assessment should entail. Furthermore, the terminology
varied; one Peruvian project required a glacial hazard
analysis, without further specification. Interpretation was left
up to contractors bidding on the project, and in the end the
successful bidder came up with a minimalist version.
On the other hand, there is the danger that perceived
- rather than demonstrable - hazards will be taken as
sufficient to block a hydropower project. Given the economic
importance of these projects, such a perspective could have
a devastating effect on Nepal and other countries where
hydropower is the principal natural resource.
The alternative to emotive and subjective
characterizations is a scientific protocol with clearly defined
criteria for the assessment of risk at any given site. Reynolds
summarizes the tools currently available:
...It is now possible to identify and map glacial lakes
using remote sensing techniques and to produce Digital
Elevation Models from stereo satellite images; to derive
an inventory of glaciers and map all glacial lakes using
 Policy and development
both manual and semi-automatic land classification
procedures; to monitor flow rates as small as 2 cm/day
for debris-covered glaciers using Synthetic Aperture
Radar imagery; and to map where proto-supra-glacial
lakes are most likely to develop in the next two to
three decades. Working with colleagues originally at
the University of Zurich it is possible to calculate and
map the probability of inundation from debris flows
and glacial lake outburst floods. Since 1996 we have also
developed and tested different geophysical techniques
on moraines to determine if they are ice-cored or not at
a wide variety of Himalayan glacial lakes (e.g., Delisle et
al. 2003, Hanisch et al. 1998, Pant and Reynolds 2000,
Reynolds 2006).
In 2000, the [British] Department for International
Development awarded Reynolds Geo-Sciences Ltd (RGSL)
a 3-year contract "to develop glacial hazard and risk
minimisation protocols in rural environments." The result
is a set of weighted criteria that can be measured by nonexperts and plugged into formulas that yield an objective
glacial hazard rating. Details are available online either
through RGSL's web-site ( or through
the British Geological Survey's web-site (;
DFID Knowledge and Research portal, then Search for
Glacial hazards). The system has since been adopted by the
Union Commission for the Cryospheric Sciences Working
Group on Glacial and Permafrost Hazards.
Now that there are standards for risk measurement, it
would make sense to have an international entity in charge
of a well-publicized program. Such a Mountain Hazard and
Disaster Watch could direct graduate students and other
researchers to areas in need of study. It could serve as a
clearinghouse to review, assemble, and track research, and as
an authoritative source of prognostications and advisories.
Localized efforts
The Sherpas of Nepal have been very successful at developing
ongoing "sponsorship" relationships with trekking and
mountaineering clients. While comparable enterprise is not
often found in other remote travel destinations, the likelihood
is that it would be easy to develop. All that is required is that
an organization gather email addresses of visitors to each
locale, perhaps in exchange for news and photo updates.
The email list could then be used to solicit donations in the
event of catastrophe, as well as for development, and also to
stimulate interest in return visits.
One local target should be to establish depots of rescue
tools, blankets, and communication devices. Placement
of the depots would necessarily entail some thought to
emergency access and evacuation.
Quite a few important opportunities have already
been missed. As noted above, Reynolds' integrated
disaster management/social development plan was not
implemented. A great engineering effort was mounted that
resulted in a very small draw-down of the lake level. The
full draw-down plan was abandoned, meaning the lake is
still dangerous, and unmonitored. We have heard reports
of possible continuation of the project, but nothing firm yet.
Reynolds concludes:
There is a clear consensus that the future viability of
Rolwaling communities is tied up with the reduction in
hazard at Tsho Rolpa, and infrastructure development
within the valley. This must be done sensitively with
respect to both the physical and social environments,
and should include the provision of electricity and other
social benefits, as other contributors to the e-conference
have also suggested.
... As Dr Sacherer states in her article, unless
Tsho Rolpa is remediated, the further development of
Rolwaling will not happen and this is likely to lead to the
demise ofthe communities within the valley.
In Rolwaling we have been afforded the luxury of a long-
drawn-out training period. Tsho Rolpa will not be the last
GLOF hazard. Whatever we learn there will certainly have
applications elsewhere. Let's hope the lessons are best-
practices, and not missed chances.
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Nepal; Tel: 977-1-4330829, 6613353, Fax: 977-1-4333515,
 Policy and development
An assessment of contemporary glacier fluctuations in Nepal's
Khumbu Himal using repeat photography
Alton C Byers
Alpine Conservation Partnership Program, The Mountain Institute, Washington, DC, USA
For correspondence, email:
A preliminary study of glacial fluctuations in Sagarmatha (Mt Everest) National Park, Nepal was undertaken in
Oct-Nov 2007 using repeat photography. Photographs from scientific and cartographic expeditions to the upper
Imja Khola region ca. 1950 were replicated in order to derive a better, empirically-based understanding of what
changes had occurred in the region's glaciers during the past half century. Over 40 distinct panoramas were
replicated which demonstrated the (a) complete loss of certain small (< 0.5 km2), clean glaciers (C-Type) between
approximately 5400-5500 masl, (b) the retreat of larger (>0.5 km2) clean glaciers by as much as 50 percent ofthe ca.
1955 volumes at elevations ranging from approximately 5500-5600 masl, (c) the formation of new and potentially
dangerous glacial lakes that had been debris covered glaciers (D-Type) in the 1950s, and (d) the ablation of most
ofthe D-Type glaciers re-photographed. The findings support and complement those of recent investigations
based almost entirely on remote sensing and computer modelling. However, detailed, on-the-ground field
studies of potential climate change impacts on the people and environments of the Mt. Everest region are
disturbingly absent. I suggest that only by systematically combining field and laboratory-based investigations
will we acquire the tools to enable us to identify the real threats, non-threats, and ways in which local people can
adapt and reduce vulnerabilities to climate change.
EDITOR'S NOTE This preliminary report on a study of
Himalayan glaciers has been released without peer review
in order to share important findings. A detailed report will
be forthcoming.
Between 1955 and 1963, the Austrian climber and
cartographer Erwin Schneider completed a terrestrial
photogrammetric survey of the mountain valleys to the
south and west of Mt Everest (Schneider 1963, Byers 2005)
which resulted in the beautiful 1:50,000 map of Khumbu
Himal, first published in 1965 (Arbeitsgemeinschaft fiir
Vergleichende Hochgebirgsforschung 1999). In 1956, an
eight-month study of the region's glaciers was conducted by
the Swiss glaciologist Fritz Miiller (Miiller 1958) following his
participation as scientific leader to the successful 1956 Swiss
Everest expedition. Both efforts resulted in the production
of thousands of oblique black and white photographs of the
Khumbu's cultural, physical, and high altitude landscapes.
Half a century later, these photographs are now of immense
value to our understanding of contemporary impacts of
climate change on the world's highest mountain landscapes,
especially when combined with other analytical tools such
as remote sensing, computer modeling, GIS, and field-based
biophysical and social science studies.
Over the years, I have replicated many of Schneider's
1955-1963 landscape photographs of the lower Khumbu
valleys (3,200-4,200 meters above sea level, masl) in an
effort to better understand contemporary landscape change
processes and their prospective causes (Byers 1987a, 1987b,
1987c, 1996, 1997, 2003, 2005). However, it was not until
2002 that, thanks to Jack D Ives, I came into possession
of hundreds of historic photographs of glaciers and high
altitude landscapes from the Miiller archives (see postscript).
In October-November 2007,1 spent 30 days in the upper Imja
Khola watershed ofthe Sagarmatha (Mt Everest) National Park
relocating the photopoints from which Miiller and Schneider
took their photographs, and then re-photographing the
landscapes, in order to derive a better, empirically-based
understanding of what changes had occurred in the region's
glaciers during the past half century.
I conducted my field work in the upper Imja Khola region
between 12 October and 12 November, 2007. I used a Nikon
D-80 with Bogen tripod and Manfrotto 3039 head. I recorded
locations and altitudes using a Garmin Summit GPS, and
also noted other attributes such as date, time, and aspect. I
shot the photographs using aperture priority at 15° and 30°
intervals, and subsequently stitched individual frames into
complete panoramas using Adobe Photoshop. I was able
to replicate more than forty panoramas and hundreds of
individual photographs. In this paper, I present four pairs
of original and replicate images together with a discussion of
preliminary results and recommendations.
Preliminary results
Four photo-pairs are presented as Plates 1 through 4, taken
in the upper Imja Khola watershed at approximately 86° 50' E
and 27° 53' N. The earlier of each pair was taken by Fritz Miiller
in 1956; the Schneider panoramas and photographs will be
 Policy and development
Plate 1. The lower Khumbu Glacier in 1956 (top, Plate la; photograph taken by Fritz Miiller), and in 2007 (bottom, Plate lb),
revealing very slight change in the lower tongue
presented in future publications. Plates la and lb illustrate
that, superficially at least, and despite recent dramatic
claims to the contrary, the lower tongue of the Khumbu
Glacier has changed very slightly over the last 50 years. In
contrast, the small Pokhalde Glacier (Plate 2) has entirely
disappeared over the same period. Plates 3 and 4 illustrate
the pronounced retreat and collapse of the lower tongue of
the Imja Glacier. This development introduces an associated
phenomenon, i.e., the creation of moraine-dammed lakes
(Imja Lake) in the frontal zones of retreating glaciers. In turn,
this raises the prospect of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs,
also known as jokulhlaups, the Icelandic term, Iceland being
the country where systematic study of glacier outburst floods
began almost 100 years ago).
Plate la shows the lower Khumbu Glacier as it appeared
to Fritz Miiller in 1956, taken from Awi Peak (5245 m)
north of Dugla (4620 m), and Plate lb is the 2007 replicate.
When Muller took his first photograph, he, and most other
glaciologists, would have been thinking about the likelihood
of a recurrence ofthe 'Little Ice Age' rather than prospects for
a widespread glacier melt-down. The lower glacier appears
to have changed very little. Close examination, however, will
reveal several recently-formed melt-water ponds among
the boulders which constitute a nearly complete surface
moraine. Two points must be borne in mind. First, a very
thick cover of surface debris (as occurs on a "D-type" glacier)
will insulate a glacier surface and so protect it from higher
air temperatures. On the contrary, a thin debris cover will
accelerate surface melting as heat due to solar insolation
of the relatively dark debris is transferred to the ice below.
Second, the lower Khumbu Glacier receives its supply of ice
from one ofthe world's highest accumulation areas, i.e., the
Western Cwm. At this extreme altitude, an increase of a few
degrees in mean temperature has little impact on the rate of
snow-melt. Furthermore, the ice supply to the lower tongue
cascades down the precipitous and rapidly moving Khumbu
icefall as it discharges from the Western Cwm on Mt Everest.
On the other hand, the Pokhalde Glacier (Plates 2a and
2b), as it appears from just below the Kongma La pass (5535
m), has entirely disappeared since it was photographed by
Muller in 1956. It is virtually the opposite extreme of the
Khumbu Glacier - small total area and relatively low altitude
accumulation zone. Furthermore, it had no conspicuous
cover of surface debris and so could be classified as a
'clean' ("C-type") glacier. The same inferred explanation
(disappearance on account ofthe current global warming) is
used to explain the disappearance of many small glaciers in
Glacier National Park, USA. This pattern is also characteristic
of the European Alps and many other mountain regions.
As  mentioned,   altitude  has  also   played  a  role  in  the
 Policy and development
Plate 2. Pokhalde Glacier in 1956 (top, Plate 2a; photograph taken by Fritz
Muller), and in 2007 (bottom, Plate 2b) when it completely disappeared
disappearance and/or retreat of small C-type glaciers in the Khumbu, with the
zone between approximately 5400 and 5600 masl being the most heavily affected
because of its warmer overall conditions. Within this range, I observed the entire
disappearance of one C-type glacier (i.e., Pokhalde), the retreat by half of three
C-type glaciers on the Jobo Lhaptsan (6440 masl) ridge toward Cho La,
and upward retreat of dozens of ice sheets on most glaciated slopes re-
In one sense, Imja Glacier (Plates 3 and 4), as seen from a point above
Amphu lake (Plates 3a and 3b) and again from the upper slopes of Island Peak
(Plates 4a and 4b), falls between the two extremes. It is a large glacier fed by
two vigorous upper tributaries. A detailed study of Imja Lake and Glacier was
initiated by the United Nations University (UNU) mountain hazards mapping
program in 1983. The lake is totally absent in Miiller's 1956 photograph,
although a few small melt-ponds can be detected, comparable to those showing
on the lower Khumbu Glacier today. Imja Lake only became of significance to
UNU research when the late Dr Brad Washburn made available to the research
team air photographs that he obtained in the course of producing the National
Geographic Society's superlative 1:50,000 map ofthe Everest region.
The UNU identification of Imja
Lake - we can't say "discovery," as its
presence was previously known to the
local Sherpas - coincided with the initial
study of the glacial lake outburst from
Dig Tsho, also in the Khumbu, in 1985.
This occurred towards the end of UNU's
mapping of mountain hazards in the
area and facilitated one of the earliest
on-the-ground post-facto analyses of
such an event in Nepal, and discussion
of its implications (Ives 1986, Vuichard
and Zimmermann 1986). Thereafter a
systematic collection of'old' photographs
was initiated and a series of expeditions to
study Imja Lake was launched (Watanabe
etal. 1994, 1995).
Interest in the Imja Lake continues
to accelerate as a result of its rapid growth
(WWF 2005, Bajracharya et al. 2007),
relative ease of access, proximity to the
popular trekking peak objective Island
Peak, and the fact that it is located at
the foot of Mt Everest, one ofthe world's
most powerful media draws. Based on
temporal series of satellite images from
1962 to 2006 combined with some field
verification data, Bajracharya et al. report
that the lake increased in area from 0.82
km2 in 2001 to 0.94 km2 in 2006, with
the glacier currently receding at the rate
of 74 m/yr. The lake increased in length
from 1,647 m to 2,017 m during the same
period, exhibiting an average depth of
41.6 m in 2002 that contains 35.8 million
m3 of water. They report that during the
past six years, 34 major lakes appear to
be growing in the Khumbu, and 24 new
lakes have appeared, 12 of which are
classified as "dangerous." They advocate
early warning systems as the most cost-
effective means of dealing with the risk
of glacial lake outburst, and in fact a
lapanese team installed a video cam
to monitor lake levels in November of
2007. In May of 2008, Asian Trekking and
the International Centre for Integrated
Mountain Development (ICIMOD) are
planning an "EcoEverest Expedition"
designed in part to raise awareness of
the potential problems associated with
proliferation and expansion of glacial
lakes as a result of climate change.
Over 40 distinct panoramas were
replicated which demonstrated, among
other phenomena to be described in
forthcoming  papers,  the   (a)   complete
 Policy and development
loss of certain small (<0.5 km2), clean
glaciers (C-Type) between approximately
5400-5500 masl, (b) the retreat of larger
(>0.5 km2) clean glaciers by as much as
50 percent of the ca. 1955 volumes at
elevations ranging from approximately
5500-5600 masl, (c) the formation of
new and potentially dangerous glacial
lakes that had been debris covered
glaciers (D-Type) in the 1950s, and
(d) the ablation of most of the D-Type
glaciers re-photographed. The findings
support and complement those of
Bajracharya et al. (2007), and illustrate the
advantage of combining remote sensing
and computer modeling with thorough
and systematic field verification. However,
detailed, on-the-ground field studies of
potential climate change impacts on the
people and environments ofthe mountain
world-on water, agriculture, safety, glacial
lakes, tourism - are disturbingly absent,
and all to o frequently substituted with well
meaning, but frequently erroneous and
sensationalistic reports based entirely on
anecdotal evidence alone. For example, I
found the terminus of the Khumbu glacier
to be exactly where it was 50 years ago,
despite stories heard in Kathmandu to the
effect that it had receded by 5 km; and the
"glacial lake outburst" in Kunde village
reported on the Internet last summer was
in fact a centuries-old torrent that floods
at least once every several decades; there
are no glacial lakes on Khumbui Yul La, the
peak that rises above Kunde. My informal
interviews with Sherpa informants suggest
that a wide range of opinions exists
regarding the impacts, or lack of impact,
of climate change, and I can find no
systematic studies that have attempted to
determine what local people think. More
than ever, we now need to emulate the
thorough work of Muller and Schneider
half a century ago, with on-the-ground
field studies by mountain geographers,
anthropologists, glaciologists, and social
scientists with those ofthe laboratory. Only
by combining both field and laboratory
results, especially in collaboration with
local people, will we have the tools that
enable us to identify the real threats, non-
threats, and ways in which local people
can adapt and reduce vulnerabilities to
climate change.
I also suggest that much more field-
based analysis of glacial lakes in general
is needed in the Khumbu and elsewhere
in the Himalaya. For example, some have
Plates 3. Imja Glacier, as seen from a point above Amphu lake in 1956 (top,
Plate 3a, photograph by Fritz Muller) and in 2007 (bottom, Plate 3b) show
pronounced retreat and collapse ofthe lower tongue ofthe glacier and
formation of new melt-ponds
argued that controlled breaching of dangerous lakes is too expensive, and that
early warning systems are the only practical solution. Yet, Peruvian engineers,
for example, have over 45 years of experience in the successful control of glacial
lakes in the Cordillera Blanca region of Peru (Byers 2000). This experience needs
to be reviewed for possible adaptation to conditions in Nepal. Cost is clearly
not prohibitive if dozens of lakes have been controlled in another developing
country such as Peru. Regardless, the savings of lives, land, and infrastructure
that could result from an outburst would appear to dwarf the expense of its
prevention. Early warning systems, although potentially a viable component
of GLOF management, provide only a brief opportunity to get out of the path of
destruction for those lucky enough to hear them, and do little for the hundreds of
farmers, porters, and trekkers who may be on the trail between villages when the
 Policy and development
Plates 4. Imja Glacier,
as seen from the
upper slopes of Island
Peak in 1956 (top,
Plate 4a, photograph
by Fritz Muller) and
in 2007 (bottom, Plate
4b) show pronounced
retreat and collapse
of the lower tongue
of the glacier and
formation of new
outburst occurs. Likewise, classifying a lake as "dangerous"
based on remotely-sensed size and volume alone does not
take into account the more frequent causes of lake outbursts,
such as catastrophic ice fall (e.g., as with the Langmoche
flood), earthquake, or natural failure ofthe terminal moraine
dam. Much uncertainty in these regards could be removed
through the development and implementation of more
thorough ground verification methods, followed by the
implementation of controlled breaching and early warning
systems where indicated.
The photographs compared here, and the dozens of other
replicate panoramas that I took in order to highlight change
over a 50-year period, represent only a tiny fraction of those
remaining in the Miiller/Schneider archives. More work
is planned for the future in partnership with ICIMOD's
Decision Support System (DSS) project, The Mountain
Institute, and the American Alpine Club. This should provide
a database to facilitate more objective assessment of changes
that are occurring in the Khumbu, as well as development
of a model applicable to other mountain regions of the
world. In this way a more reliable basis can be built for the
formulation of policies promoting adaptation to change as
well as mitigation of disasters. The paper is also intended to
encourage the incorporation of more field-based studies of
the biophysical and human aspects of climate change in the
mountains in order to realistically understand its impacts on
peoples' lives, livelihoods, and safety.
Postscript (by Jack D Ives)
The preservation of Fritz Miiller's 1956 photographs is a
saga in its own right. Fritz formed the scientific 'team' on the
successful Swiss Everest-Lhotse expedition of 1956. He stayed
behind to continue his glaciological and permafrost studies
after the climbers had departed for home. He remained
for nine months at altitudes in excess of 5,000 metres - a
non-indigenous record for the time [see note]. Afterwards
he divided his energies as professor of geography between
McGill University (Montreal), and ETH (Zurich). During
this time he initiated and led a series of expeditions to Axel
Heiberg Island in Canada's High Arctic (the island's largest
ice cap is named in his honor). He also campaigned against
what he perceived as reckless development of hydroelectric
facilities in the Swiss Alps. It was while haranguing news
reporters on the Rhonegletscher that he suffered a fatal
heart attack in 1980, at the age of 54. In the confusion that
followed his tragic death most of his photographic collection
was lost. A single box of photographs was salvaged by one
of his doctoral students, Dr Konrad Stefan, and brought to
Boulder, Colorado. Koni presented the box to me, knowing
that I had begun to focus my UNU activities on the Khumbu
Himal. Inspection revealed that there were no negatives
(apparently they had been inadvertently destroyed) and that
 Policy and development
most ofthe prints were 35mm contacts. Remarkably, the Imja
Glacier photographs were amongst the very few that had
been enlarged (to about 12 by 20 cm). Recently, Alton Byers
was able to utilize the rapidly developing digital technology
to enlarge and enhance many of the other contact prints.
He is currently planning major photo exhibits featuring the
comparative panoramas at the American Alpine Club's Brad
Washburn Mountaineering Museum, Golden, Colorado;
and in celebration of the 25th anniversary of ICIMOD in
I present the story of the Muller photographs here in
the hopes that it will encourage similar efforts to retrieve,
restore, and utilize historic photographs. It is also meant
to be a tribute to one of the most effective and imaginative
Swiss-Canadian glaciologists I have ever known, Professor
Fritz Muller.
I would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support for this
project provided by The Mountain Institute, Washington, DC, the
American Alpine Club, Golden, Colorado, and the International
Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, Kathmandu, Nepal.
I would also like to thank lack D Ives for so generously entrusting
me with the Muller archives, and hope that their use will stimulate
continued advances to our understanding of the high mountain
Arbeitsgemeinschaft fiirVergleichende Hochgebirgsforschung. 1999.
Khumbu Himal 1:50,000. Munich
Bajracharya SR, PK Mool, and BR Shrestha. 2007. Impact of climate
change on Himalayan glaciers and glacial lakes. Kathmandu:
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.
119 p
Byers A. 1987a. A geoecological study of landscape change and man-
accelerated soil loss: the case of the Sagarmatha (Mt Everest)
National Park, Khumbu, Nepal [PhD dissertation]. Ann Arbor:
University Microfilms International. 354 p
Byers A. 1987b. An assessment of landscape change in the Khumbu
region of Nepal using repeat photography. Mountain Research
and Development1'(1): 77-81
Byers A. 1987c. Landscape change and man-accelerated soil loss:
the case ofthe Sagarmatha (Mt Everest) National Park, Khumbu,
Nepal. Mountain Research and Development1'(3): 209-216
Byers A. 1996. Repeat photography ofMt Everest National Park: Final
report. National Geographic Society
Byers A. 1997. Landscape change in the Sagarmatha (Mt Everest)
National Park, Khumbu,   Nepal.   Himalayan Research Bulletin
XVII(2): 31-41
Byers  AC.   2000.   Landscape   change   in   the   Cordillera  Blanca,
Huascaran National Park, Huaraz, Peru. Mountain Research and
Development20(1): 52-63
Byers A. 2003. Landscape change in the Mt Everest National Park,
Nepal.   In: Triumph on Everest: A tribute from the Sherpas of
Nepal. Kathmandu: Mandala Press. 152 p
Byers A. 2005. Contempory human impacts on alpine ecosystems
in the Sagarmatha (Mt Everest) National Park, Khumbu, Nepal.
Annals of the Association of American Geographers 95(1): 112-140
Ives ID. 1986. Glacial lake outburst floods and risk engineering in the
Himalaya.   Occasional paper No. 5. Kathmandu: ICIMOD
Muller F. 1958.   Eight Months of Glacier and Soil Research in the
Everest Region.   In: The Mountain World 1958/59.   New York:
Harper and Brothers Publishers, p 191-208
Schneider E. 1963. Foreword to the map ofthe Mount Everest region.
In: Hagen T, GO Dyhrenfurth, C von Furer-Haimendorf, and
E Schneider (eds), Mount Everest: Formation,   population and
exploration of the Everest region.   London: Oxford University
Press, p 182-195
Vuichard D and M Zimmerman. 1986. The Langmoche flash-flood,
Khumbu Himal, Nepal.   Mountain Research and Development
6(1): 90-94
Watanabe T, ID Ives, and IE Hammond. 1994. Rapid growth of
a glacial lake in Khumbu Himal, Himalaya: prospects for a
catastrophic flood. Mountain Research and Development 14(4):
Watanabe T, S Kameyama, and T Sato. 1995.   Imja Glacier dead-
ice melt rates and changes in a supra-glacial lake, 1989-1994,
Khumbu Himal,  Nepal:  danger of lake  drainage. Mountain
Research and Development15(4): 293-300
World Wildlife Fund Nepal Program 2005. An overview of glaciers,
glacier retreat, and its subsequent impacts in Nepal, India, and
China. Kathmandu: World Wildlife Fund. 68 p
Note (from postscript)
One of my prized pieces of personal memorabilia is a postcard
sent to me by Fritz from the South Col. It includes the official Swiss
expedition diagram of the Everest group with Fritz's annotations to
the following effect: he apologizes for not having had time before his
departure for Nepal to assist me with my doctoral dissertation saying
that, at least, I can claim it all as my own work; he goes on to say that,
after struggling with his permafrost studies and after drilling holes in
the Khumbu icefall for movement stakes, he needed a rest break; this
he obtained byjoiningaparty of Sherpas to carry a load to the South
Col. I last saw Fritz on the Rhonegetscher just two years before his
death in the same place.
 Research paper
Conservation area networks for the Indian region:
Systematic methods and future prospects
Sahotra Sarkar*1, Michael Mayfield2, Susan Cameron3, Trevon Fuller1 and Justin Garson4
1 Biodiversity and Biocultural Conservation Laboratory, Section of Integrative Biology,
University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station C0930, Austin, Texas, USA 78712
2 Wello Horld, Inc., 195 Morgan Avenue, Brooklyn, NewYork, USA 11237
3 Graduate Group in Ecology, Department of Environmental Science and Policy,
University of California at Davis, Davis, California, USA 95616
4 Department of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station C3500, Austin, Texas, USA 78712
* For correspondence, email:
We present a framework for systematic conservation planning for biodiversity with an emphasis on the
Indian context. We illustrate the use of this framework by analyzing two data sets consisting of environmental
and physical features that serve as surrogates for biodiversity. The aim was to select networks of potential
conservation areas (such as reserves and national parks) which include representative fractions of these
environmental features or surrogates. The first data set includes the entire subcontinent while the second is
limited to the Eastern Himalayas. The environmental surrogates used for the two analyses result in the selection
of conservation area networks with different properties. Tentative results indicate that these surrogates are
successful in selecting most areas known from fieldwork to have high biodiversity content such as the broadleaf
and subalpine conifer forests ofthe Eastern Himalayas. However, the place-prioritization algorithm also selected
areas not known to be high in biodiversity content such as the coast of the Arabian Sea. Areas selected to satisfy
a 10% target of representation for the complete surrogate set provide representation for 46.03% ofthe ecoregions
in the entire study area. The algorithm selected a disproportionately small number of cells in the Western Ghats,
a hotspot of vascular plant endemism. At the same target level, restricted surrogate sets represent 33.33% ofthe
ecoregions in the entire study area and 46.67% of the ecoregions in the Eastern Himalayas. Finally, any more
sophisticated use of such systematic methods will require the assembly of Geographical Information Systems
(GIS)-based biogeographical data sets on a regional scale.
Key words: Indian biodiversity, Eastern Himalayas, complementarity, area prioritization, reserve selection,
The Indian subcontinent is a region of moderate to very
high biodiversity including two of the global hotspots
of vascular plant endemism: the Western Ghats and the
Eastern Himalayas (Myers et al. 2000). It has also had a
long cultural history of biological conservation, going back
almost 2,500 years in recorded history. Since independence
in 1947, and particularly since 1970, India has been one of
the international leaders in setting aside land for biodiversity
conservation. In spite of strong local interest, a highly
developed scientific infrastructure, and considerable
political will for conservation, systematic conservation
planning methods from contemporary conservation biology
have rarely been used in any Indian context (see, however,
Pawar et al. 2007). Our purpose here is to provide a brief
introduction to these neglected methods with particular
attention to the Indian context, and then apply them to
two Indian data sets. However, the data sets we use were
generated from publicly available coarse-grained data from
the World Wide Web. The only geographical data that are thus
available for India are for environmental, that is, climatic and
topographical, features. No geographical distributional data
for biota were available. Consequently, we could only test the
adequacy of using environmental features by assessing what
fraction of each ecoregion was selected when we prioritized
places for conservation using these features. However, the
surrogates that we used effectively represent components
of biodiversity in other regions (Sarkar et al. 2005, Margules
and Sarkar 2007). Because of these limitations, our results
indicate what conservation planning might achieve if the
ongoing Indian and transnational ecoinformatics projects
compile adequate data in appropriate form. They should not
guide policy formulation. In the future, we hope to repeat
this analysis with more adequate data sets, and to provide
Himalayan lournal ofSciences 4(6): 27-40, 2007
Available online
Copyright©2007 by Himalayan Association for the
Advancement of Science
 Research paper
Box 1. Glossary of technical terms
Conservation area: Any geographical unit at which a
conservation plan for biodiversity is being implemented.
There is no restriction on what such a plan may be.
Conservation area network: A network of conservation areas
which are jointly intended to satisfy representation targets
for biodiversity and other goals. The main goal of systematic
conservation planning is to identify such networks.
Estimator surrogate: See surrogate.
Goal: A desired spatial configuration of conservation areas
in a conservation area network, for instance, with specified
sizes or shapes of individual areas, their dispersion across the
study region, or the connectivity between them. Also refers
to desired social, political, and economic consequences of a
conservation area network.
Representation level: A quantitative measure of the extent
to which a biodiversity surrogate is present in a conservation
area network, for instance, the fraction ofthe habitat of
some species.
Surrogate: Biological or environmental (climatic or
topographic) features that are used to measure biodiversity
in conservation planning. Biological features maybe
sets of species or other taxa as well as community types.
True surrogates are those such features used to capture
biodiversity generally. Estimator surrogates are used
to represent true surrogates when the geographical
distributions of true surrogates cannot be accurately
True surrogate: See surrogate.
Target: A required level of representation for each surrogate
in an adequate conservation area network.
policy recommendations. Nonetheless, for one case in
peninsular India our results do suggest the need for a new
program of investigative research. (For an explanation ofthe
terminology used in this paper, see Box 1.)
The following section of this paper describes a
systematic conservation planning and management
framework previously used by conservation planners in
many countries, including Australia, Canada, Papua New
Guinea, and South Africa. (For details, see Margules and
Sarkar 2007; for a historical review, see Justus and Sarkar
2002.) We tailored the discussion to the Indian context. In
the "Materials and methods" section, we describe the data
sets, algorithms, and software tools we use. In the "Results"
section, we provide our initial findings and analyze their
implications in "Discussion" section.
Systematic biodiversity conservation planning and
The aim of biodiversity conservation planning is to select
conservation area networks (CANs) and to devise methods
for their adequate management.  We define a conservation
area as an area in which some conservation action is
implemented. Such actions include the designation of
traditional reserves with human exclusion, but they also
include sustainable human use and management. (This is
why we prefer the term "conservation area" to the more
traditional "reserve.") Box 2 details the framework for
systematic conservation planning and management as an
eleven-stage process which is described in detail by Margules
and Sarkar (2007; see also Margules and Pressey 2000). The
first stage is the identification of stakeholders for a given
region and discussion of process and general goals. The
next stage is data collection. It is critical that the data be
georeferenced and recorded in a Geographical Information
System (GIS) model. As part of this stage, planners must
identify the biological entities that are of the most interest
for conservation. These obviously include species that are at
risk and also those that are endemic or rare. Planners must
also assess the quality ofthe data. Even though no techniques
exist as yet to quantify uncertainties in the data, and how
these propagate through the analysis, the best possible
assessment ofthe quality ofthe data must nevertheless guide
the interpretation of results. The last point will be illustrated
as we discuss our own results.
The third stage of conservation planning is the selection
of surrogates to represent general biodiversity. In this context,
there is an operationally useful distinction between "true" and
"estimator" surrogates for biodiversity (Sarkar and Margules
2002, Margules and Sarkar 2007). The former must represent
biodiversity in general. However, since general biodiversity
has so far proved impossible to define, we must use some
convention. Though there are many plausible alternatives,
the most common convention has been to regard the set of all
species as a true surrogate set (Sarkar 2002). Unfortunately,
complete distributions of such comprehensive true
surrogate sets are almost always impossible to obtain in
practice: consequently, conservation planners have to use
estimator surrogates. Whereas true surrogates have general
biodiversity as their target of representation, estimator
surrogates have true surrogates as their target. Estimator
surrogates must be landscape features that are easily and
accurately quantified and assessed. These surrogates may
be sets of species or higher taxa, as well as environmental
parameters such as climatic variables and land classes.
Whether an estimator surrogate set adequately represents
an explicitly specified true surrogate set is a question that
conservation planners must evaluate empirically in the
field. Planners can evaluate the extent to which an estimator
surrogate set represents a true surrogate set in two ways:
(i) planners can use the estimator surrogate distributions to
predict the true surrogate distributions, for instance, through
niche modeling; or (ii) planners can compare results of
planning using estimator surrogates to those obtained using
the true surrogates. So far planners have never successfully
implemented method (i) for large complements of biota at
the landscape scale. However, planners have used method
(ii) with some success (Ferrier and Watson 1997, Garson et
al. 2002a, Sarkar et al. 2006). Typically, planners must survey
a small, suitably randomized set of sites for both the true and
potential estimator surrogates. Planners must then prioritize
 Research paper
1. Identify stakeholders for the planning region:
• Stakeholders include: (a) those who have decisionmaking powers; (b) those who will be affected
by conservation plans for region; (c) those with
expertise about the region and (d) those who may
commit resources for conservation plans;
• Include both local and global stakeholders;
• Ensure transparency in the involvement of all
stakeholders from the beginning.
2. Compile, assess, and refine biodiversity and socioeconomic data for the region:
• Compile available geographical distribution data on
as many biotic and environmental parameters as
possible at every level of organization;
• Compile available socio-economic data, including
values for alternate uses, resource ownership and
• Collect relevant new data to the extent feasible
within available time; remote sensing data should be
easily accessible; systematic surveys at the level of
species (or lower levels) will usually be impossible;
• Assess conservation status for biotic entities, for
instance, their rarity, endemism, and endangerment;
• Assess the reliability of the data, formally and
informally; in particular, critically analyze the
process of data selection;
• When data do not reflect representative samples
ofthe landscape, correct for bias and model
3. Select biodiversity surrogates for the region:
• Choose true surrogate sets for biodiversity
(representing general "biodiversity") for part ofthe
region; be explicit about criteria used for this choice;
• Choose alternate estimator surrogate sets (for
representing true surrogate sets in the planning
• Prioritize sites using true surrogate sets; prioritize
sites using as many combinations of estimator
surrogate sets as feasible, and compare them;
• Potentially also use other methods of surrogacy
analysis to assess estimator-surrogate sets, including
measures of spatial congruence between plans
formulated using the true and estimator surrogate
• Assess which estimator surrogate set is best on the
basis of (i) economy and (ii) representation.
4. Establish conservation targets and goals:
• Set quantitative targets for surrogate coverage;
• Set quantitative targets for total network area;
• Set quantitative targets for minimum size for
population, unit area, etc.;
• Set design criteria such as shape, size, dispersion,
connectivity, alignment, and replication;
• Set precise goals for criteria other than biodiversity,
including socio-political criteria.
5. Review the existing conservation area network (CAN):
• Estimate the extent to which the existing set of
conser-vation areas meets the conservation targets
and goals;
• Determine the prognosis for the existing CAN;
• Refine the first estimate.
6. Prioritize new areas for potential conservation action:
• Using principles such as complementarity, rarity,
and endemism, prioritize areas for their biodiversity
content to create a set of potential conservation area
• Starting with the existing CAN, repeat the process of
prioritization to compare results;
• Incorporate socio-political criteria, such as various
costs, if desired, using a trade-off analysis;
• Incorporate design criteria such as shape, size,
dispersion, connectivity, alignment, and replication,
if desired, using a trade-off analysis.
• Alternatively, carry out last three steps using optimal
7. Assess prognosis for biodiversity within each newly
selected area:
• Assess the likelihood of persistence of all biodiversity
surrogates in all selected areas. This may include
population viability analysis for as many species
using as many models as feasible;
• Perform the best feasible habitat-based viability
analysis to obtain a general assessment ofthe prognosis for all species in a potential conservation area;
• Assess vulnerability of a potential conservation area
from external threats, using techniques such as risk
8. Refine networks of areas selected for conservation
Delete the presence of surrogates from potential
conservation areas if the viability of that surrogate is
not sufficiently high;
Run the prioritization protocol again to prioritize
potential conservation areas by biodiversity value;
Incorporate design criteria such as shape, size,
dispersion, connectivity, alignment, and replication.
Examine feasibility using multi-criteria analysis:
Order each set of potential conservation areas by
each ofthe criteria other than those used in Stage 6;
Find all best solutions; discard all other solutions;
Select one ofthe best solutions.
Implement a conservation plan:
Decide on most appropriate legal mode of
protection for each targeted place;
Decide on most appropriate mode of management
for persistence of each targeted surrogate;
If implementation is impossible return to Stage 5;
Decide on a time frame for implementation,
depending on available resources.
Periodically reassess the network:
Set management goals in an appropriate time-frame
for each protected area;
Decide on indicators that will show whether goals
are met;
Periodically measure these indicators;
Return to Stage 1.
 Research paper
areas using both true and estimator surrogate sets (see the
discussion ofthe sixth stage below) and compare the results.
The subset of potential estimator surrogates that achieves the
closest level of representation of the true surrogate set is the
best to use for the entire region for which the full distributions
of true surrogates are not known.
At the fourth stage, conservation planners must
establish explicit targets and goals for the conservation
area network. Here, targets refer to the quantitative level of
representation of surrogates in conservation area networks
(see below). Goals refer to both the spatial configuration
of networks (the size, shape, dispersion, connectivity, etc.
of the areas in the network) as well as social and economic
aspects. Without explicit targets and goals, it is impossible to
assess the success of a conservation plan. However, setting
such targets and goals provides ample scope for controversy.
Typically, planners use two types of targets: (i) a level of
representation for each surrogate within a conservation area
network (CAN); or (ii) the area of land that can be put under
a conservation plan. A common target of type (i) is to set the
level of representation at 100% for species at risk and 10% for
all other surrogates. A common target of type (ii) is 10% of
the total area of a region, as originally proposed by the World
Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the International Union for
the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN)
(Dudley et al. 1996). However, the actual numbers used are
not entirely determined by biological criteria. Rather, they
represent conventions arrived at by educated intuition.
Similarly, while planners generally accept on ecological
grounds that larger conservation areas are better than smaller
Table 1. Representation of ecoregions among selected
cells for the Indian region
Andaman Islands rain forests
Baluchistan xeric woodlands
Brahmaputra Valley semi-evergreen forests
Central Afghan Mountains xeric woodlands
Central Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests
Central Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe
Chhota-Nagpur dry deciduous forests
Chin Hills-Arakan Yoma montane forests
Deccan thorn scrub forests
East Afghan montane conifer forests
East Deccan dry-evergreen forests
Eastern highlands moist deciduous forests
Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows
Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests
Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests
Goadavari-Krishna mangroves
Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests
Himalayan subtropical pine forests
Hindu Kush alpine meadow
Indus River Delta-Arabian Sea mangroves
Indus Valley desert
Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe
Khathiar-Gir dry deciduous forests
Kuh Rud and Eastern Iran montane woodlands
Lower Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests
Malabar Coast moist forests
Meghalaya subtropical forests
Mizoram-Manipur-Kachin rain forests
Myanamar Coast mangroves
 Research paper
ones, ecology does not specify how large is good enough. The
question of connectivity also remains controversial: while
connectivity might help species migrate to find suitable
habitat, it may also enable the spread of infectious disease.
At the fifth stage, planners must assess the performance
of existing conservation areas in meeting the targets and goals
of the fourth. This will determine what conservation action
(if any) they should take. Because conservation practitioners
have never implemented systematic conservation planning
in India, it is unknown whether, and to what extent, the
existing network of protected areas adequately represents
India's biodiversity. It is only in the southern region (Kerala,
southern Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu) that close to 10% ofthe
land is under some form of protection. However, we do not
know whether the existing areas are spatially economical,
that is, selected so as to represent biodiversity maximally in
the area of land that has been put under protection.
The sixth stage consists of prioritizing places for
conservation action to satisfy the stated targets and goals of
the fourth stage. The result is a potential CAN. This problem
corresponds to the traditional problem of reserve network
selection. We purposely chose the term "place prioritization"
rather than the more traditional "reserve selection" in
order to emphasize that systematic conservation planning
envisions a variety of conservation actions, including, but
not limited to, the designation of reserves. A wide variety
of algorithms and other methods are available for place
prioritization (Cabeza and Moilanen 2001). The algorithm
used here will be discussed in "Materials and methods"
section. It is designed to construct a CAN as economically
Myanmar coastal rain forests
Narmada Valley dry deciduous forests
Nicobar Islands rain forests
North Tibetan Plateau-Kunlun Mountains alpine desert
Northwestern Ghats moist deciduous forests
Northwestern Ghats montane rain forests
Northeast India-Myanmar pine forests
Northeastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests
Northern dry deciduous forests
Northern Triangle temperate forests
Northwestern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows
Northwestern thorn scrub forests
Orissa semi-evergreen forests
Pamir alpine desert and tundra
Rann of Kutch seasonal salt marsh
Registan-North Pakistan sandy desert
Rock and ice
South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests
South Iran Nubo-Sindian desert and semi-desert
Southwestern Ghats moist deciduous forests
Southwestern Ghats montane rain forests
Sri Lanka dry-zone dry evergreen forests
Sri Lanka lowland rain forests
Sri Lanka montane rain forests
Sulaiman Range alpine meadows
Sundarbans freshwater swamp forests
Sundarbans mangroves
Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands
Thar desert
Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests
Western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows
Western Himalayan broadleaf forests
Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests
 Research paper
Table 2. Representation of ecoregions amonf
for the Eastern Himalayas
; selected cells
Brahmaputra Valley semi-
evergreen forests
Chin Hills-Arakan Yoma
montane forests
Eastern Himalayan alpine
shrub and meadows
Eastern Himalayan
broadleaf forests
Eastern Himalayan
subalpine conifer forests
Himalayan subtropical
broadleaf forests
Himalayan subtropical pine
Lower Gangetic Plains
moist deciduous forests
Meghalaya subtropical
rain forests
Northeast India-Myanmar
pine forests
Northeastern Himalayan
subalpine conifer forests
Northern Triangle
temperate forests
Rock and ice
Terai-Duar savanna and
as possible, that is with the least number of areas put under
management for biodiversity conservation.
However, the current representation of biodiversity in
a CAN does not solely ensure its persistence: conservation
planners must also take into account the level of threat from
ecological and anthropogenic factors. The seventh stage of
systematic conservation planning consists of assessing such
risks (Gaston et al. 2002). This is often a difficult task, and
planners have paid relatively little attention to it. Techniques
for coping with risk include population and habitat-based
viability analysis, as well as threat estimation (Boyce 1992,
Boyce et al. 1994). Planners have not carried out any of these
for any Indian region.
In the eighth stage, conservation planners drop areas
with a poor prognosis for relevant biodiversity features
and repeat the place prioritization excluding these areas.
Biodiversity conservation is not the only possible use of land.
Competing uses such as agriculture, recreation, or industrial
development, place strong socio-economic constraints on
environmental policy. The ninth stage consists of attempting
to synchronize all these criteria. Many interesting conceptual
and practical problems arise at this stage, the main one being
whether we can compound all these criteria in one utility
function to be maximized (janssen 1992, Faith 1995, Sarkar
and Garson 2003, Moffett and Sarkar 2006). Systematic
conservation planning in India has never reached this stage.
The end of the ninth stage produces a plan for
implementation. An attempt at implementation
constitutes the tenth stage of the conservation process. If
implementation is impossible, as it sometimes is because of
the constraints encountered, new plans must be formulated.
This requires a return to the sixth stage. Finally, conservation
action is not a one-time process. The status of biological
entities changes over time. Consequently, the last stage
consists of repeating the entire process after a period of
time. Conservation planners may set this period of time
in absolute terms (a specified number of years, once again
chosen by convention) or planners may determine the
period by keeping track of explicitly specified indicators of
the health of a conservation area network. The conservation
planning literature sometimes refers to this iterative process
as adaptive management.
Materials and methods
Data sets Our starting point is the map of terrestrial
ecoregions of the world produced by the WWF (http://, Olson et al. 2001). In
Figure 1, we overlaid all ofthe ecoregions that partly or fully
overlap the political map of India to produce the region
of analysis. The first part of our analysis encompasses the
entirety of this region which we will refer to as the "Indian
region." We divided this region into cells at a resolution of
0.1° x 0.1° of longitude and latitude, resulting in 63,954 cells
which varied in size from 94.6 to 123.6 sq. km. (The variation
in area is due to the fact that the distance between lines of
longitude decreases away from the equator.) The region of
analysis has a total area of 6,987,279.29 sq. km and represents
63 ecoregions.
As estimator surrogates we used climatic parameters
(annual mean temperature, the minimum temperature
during the coldest period, the maximum temperature during
the hottest period, and precipitation), slope, elevation, aspect,
and soil classes. Since we had no access to biogeographical
distributional data, we judged the adequacy of our surrogate
set on the basis of its ability to select representative fractions
ofthe ecoregions. (Olson et al. [2001] defined the ecoregions
based inpart on coarse-grained biological features.) However,
we have previously shown this estimator surrogate set to be
adequate in representing biota for two widely different data
sets from Queensland and Quebec (Sarkar et al. 2005).
We obtained elevation data from the GTOPO30 DEM
which is a 30 arc-second DEM available from the United
States Geological Survey (USGS) (USGS 1998, http:// We created
slope and aspect layers using the Spatial Analyst extension
in ArcGIS 8.1 (ESRI 2002) from the DEM as specified in
the Hydro  IK elevation derivative database methodology
 Research paper
Figure 1. The ecoregions of
India. The region ofthe analysis
includes all ofthe ecoregions that
intersect India. Thus the map
extends well beyond the political
boundaries of India.
0    250 500        1.000       1.500       2000
■; Andaman Islands rain forests
■_ Baluchistan x eric woodlands
| Brahmaputra Valor semi-evergreen forests
| Central Afghan Mountains jienc woodlands
■. central Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests
H, Central Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe
| Chhota-hragpur dry deciduous forests
| Chin Hills-Arakan Yoma montane forBBts
| Deccan thorn scrub forests
■ East Afghan montane conifer forests
H, East Deccan dry-evergreen forests
^] Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows
| Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests
3 Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifertorests
| Eastern highlands moist deciduous forests
3 Goadavan-Krtshna mangroves
H^ Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests
| Hmalayan subtropical pine forests
| Hindu Kush alptie meadow
| Indus River Delta-Arabian Sea mangroves
llndusValley desert
Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe
Khatmar-Gir dry deciduous forests
Kuh Rud and Eastern Iran montane woodlands
UwerOangelK Prams moist deciduous forests
M alabar coast moist fore sts
Maldrves-Lakshadweep-ChagosArchipelago Tropical Moist Forest
M eghalava subtropical fotesls
MEoram-Manipur-kachin ram forests
Myanamar Coast mangroves
Myanmar coastal ram forests
j Narmada valley dry deciduous forests
f Nicobar islands rain forests
| North Tibetan Piateau-Kumun Mountans arpne desert
H North western ohats motst deciduous forests
| North Western Ghats montane rain forests
| Northeast India-wyanmar pine loresls
P Northeastern Himalayan sunaplne conifertorests
| Northern Triangle temperate forests
| Northern dry deciduous forests
_ Northwestern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows
T] Northwestern thorn scrub forests
| Orissa semi-evergreen forests
| Pamir alpine desert and tundra
_] Rann of Kutch seasonal sari marsh
| Registan-North Pakistan sandy desert
■ Rock and ice
H, South Deccan Plateau dry deciduous forests
| South Iran Nubo-Sindian desert and semi-desert
| South Western Ghats moist deciduousforests
| South Western Ghats montane tain forests
| Sn Lanka dry-zone dry evergreen forests
^] Sn Lanka lowland rain forests
| Sn Lanka montane rainforests
| smaman Range alpine meadows
| Sundarbans freshwater swamp forests
H^ Sundarbans mangroves
f Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands
| Thar desert
B Uoper Oangetlc Plains moist deciduous forests
| western Hmalayan apne shrub and Meadwis
| western H ma lav an broad eat forests
H Western Hrnalayan subalpine conifer forests
(     also
available from USGS.
We created the annual precipitation, mean temperature,
minimum temperature of the coldest period, and maximum
temperature of the coldest period layers from the GTOPO30
DEM and the FAOCLIM worldwide agroclimatic database
(FAO   2000,
using the ANUSPLIN 4.1 (Hutchinson 2000, http:// and ANUCLIM
5.1 (Houlder et al. 2000,
anuclim.html) software packages available from the Centre
for Resource and Environmental Studies at the Australian
National University. We used procedures for running
ANUSPLIN and ANUCLIM identical to those used in the
 Research paper
Australian BioRap analysis (Hutchinson 1991, Hutchinson et
al. 1996). In ANUSPLIN, we used the same default values as in
BioRap analysis for the SELNOT and SplineB programs.
We obtained soil classifications for India from the
world soil resources map (
gis/chap7.htm) created by the Food and Agriculture
Organization ofthe United Nations (FAO 1993). There were
only 13 associations of soil types, making this the most
coarse-grained (and least satisfactory) of our estimator
surrogate sets.
We divided the annual mean temperature data (range:
-19° to 29° C) and annual precipitation data (range: 15 to
7,873 mm) into 10 equal interval classes. We divided the
minimum temperature of the coldest period of the year
(range: -40° to 24°C) and the maximum temperature of the
warmest period ofthe year (range: 0° to 45°C) into four equal
interval classes. We did not attach any significance to the
exact number of classes: these choices reflect the intuition
that mean temperature matters more for biodiversity than
the annual high and low temperatures. However, there
is an important reason why we used equal intervals: this
attempts to ensure that a conservation plan adequately
represents biotic features found in rare temperature regimes
(for instance, species found in hot desert and cold tundra
We divided slope into five classes based on standard
deviations (range: 0° to 52° below the horizon). The use of
standard deviations reflects an assumption that mid-range
slopes are more important for biodiversity than extremes. We
based this assumption on the fact that the two biodiversity
hotspot regions in the Indian region (the Western Ghats
and the Eastern Himalayas) are in mountains that have
most of their biota in the mid-range of slope. However, this
assumption may introduce an unjustified bias against the
plains, which are also important for Indian biodiversity. To
guard against this bias, we divided elevation (1 to 8752 m)
into 25 classes based on quantiles. The use of quantiles gives
preference to flatter regions. We divided the soil data into
13 classes based on the 13 soil association types that occur
within the region (FAO 1993). We divided aspect into eight
classes based on the cardinal directions (N, NE, E, SE, S, SW,
Thus, there were a total of 79 estimator surrogates. We
also repeated our analysis without using slope, aspect, and
elevation since these were used to calculate the climatic
parameters. There were then a total of 41 estimator surrogates
in the repeated analysis.
For our second data set, we partitioned the Eastern
Himalayas at the finer scale of 0.01° x 0.01° of longitude and
latitude to obtain some preliminary indicative results because
we plan to do further work on this region. We overlaid the 15
ecoregions that intersected with the Eastern Himalayas and
then eliminated non-mountainous terrain using an elevation
threshold of 400 m. There were 365,347 cells which varied
in area between 1.06 and 1.18 sq. km. The total area of the
region was 401,834.03 sq. km.
In the Eastern Himalayas, there are 15 ecoregions. We
only used the truncated estimator surrogate set in order to
keep the computations tractable. We divided the annual
mean temperature data (range: -19° to 25°C) and annual
precipitation data (395 to 7873 mm) into 10 equal interval
classes. We divided the minimum temperature of the
coldest period of the year (-40° to 14°C) and the maximum
temperature of the warmest period of the year (0° to 36°C)
into four equal interval classes. Soil data were divided into
four classes, corresponding to the four soil association types
that occur in the region. We did not include elevation, aspect,
and slope data in this analysis. Thus, there were a total of 32
estimator surrogates.
Algorithms and software We performed all computations
using the ResNet Ver. 1.2 software package initialized
with rarity (Garson et al. 2002b). This software package
implements a CAN selection algorithm fully described by
Sarkar et al. (2002). We used targets of 5% and 10% ofthe total
distribution of the surrogates. To initiate the construction of
a CAN, we selected the first cell by the presence of the rarest
surrogate in the data set. We then iteratively augmented
the CAN by adding cells using rarity again and, if there
were ties, by breaking them by complementarity. (The
complementarity value of a cell is the number of surrogates
in it that have not yet achieved their targets.) We broke
remaining ties by a random selection of a cell. Finally, we
removed redundant cells. It is well-established that such
rarity-complementarity algorithms lead to very economical
CANs, that is, those that achieve all the prescribed targets
with as few cells as possible (Csuti et al. 1997, Pressey et al.
1997). Such economy is important because the addition of a
unit to a CAN imposes costs, including the cost of acquisition
and the cost of forgone opportunities (Sarkar et al. 2006).
Figure 2a shows the selected cells for the entire Indian region
when we used all 79 surrogates with a target of representation
of 5%; Figure 2b is the result when we set the target at 10%.
ResNet selected 3,223 cells with an area of 353,991.82 sq. km.
or 5.07% ofthe total area in Figure 2a; 6,472 cells with an area
of 688,047.22 sq. km. or 10.32% ofthe total area in Figure 2b.
Table 1 shows the percentage of the area selected for each of
the 63 ecoregions. These results permit some assessment of
the adequacy of our estimator surrogates. When we used a
target of 5% representation of surrogates, only 20 out of 63
ecoregions have at least 5% of their area selected; at a 10%
surrogate representation, 29 ecoregions achieve a 10% area
representation. With very few exceptions, the areas selected
at the 10% representation augment those selected at the 5%
In Figures 3a, b, the result of using only 41 surrogates
is superimposed on those of using all 79 surrogates for 5%
and 10% targets for the Indian region. The observation that
a very high percentage of cells was selected in the Himalayan
region motivated this exercise. It is possible that the selection
of these cells is an artifact of the fact that these mountain
ranges have extremes of slope and elevation. Moreover,
we used slope, aspect, and elevation in our calculation of
the climatic layers. Thus these three parameters and the
climatic parameters are not independent of each other and
it is at least intuitively plausible—though it has never been
 Research paper
Figure 2. Selected areas in the Indian region:
(a) target of representation of 5%; (b) target of
representation of 10%. The selected cells are
shown in dark blue.
Selected areas (target of representation: 5 %)
0  250500     1.000   1,500   2,000
Selected areas (target of representation: 10 %;
0  250500     1,000   1.500   2,01,.
 Research paper
Figure 3. Effect of surrogate set composition on selected areas: (a) target of representation of 5%; (b) target of
representation of 10%. When we used all 79 surrogates, the areas selected are shown in light blue. When we used only 41
surrogates (excluding slope, aspect, and elevation), the selected cells are super-imposed in dark blue. (The additional cells
selected when there are 79 surrogates appear visible in light blue.)
Complete attribute set (79 surrogates
target of representation: 5 %)
Restricted attribute set (41 surrogates
target of representation: 5 %)
0   250 500
1,000      1,500      2.0
Complete attribute set (79 surrogates
target of representation: 10 %)
.Restricted attribute set (41 surrogates
target of representation: 10 %)
0   250 500
1.000      1.500
 Research paper
Figure 4. Selected areas in the Eastern Himalayas:
(a) target of representation of 5%; (b) target of
representation of 10%. The selected cells are
shown in dark blue. Inset: Countries bordering the
Eastern Himalayan ecoregion. The blue box in the
inset shows the Eastern Himalayas.
|   Selected areas (target of representation: 10 %)
500 250 0	
500 Kilomeler$
 Research paper
proved—that the best estimator surrogate sets are those
that include only independent parameters. In this case, no
ecoregion achieves 5% area representation with 5% surrogate
representation. However, 21 ecoregions achieve a 10% area
representation with a target of 10% surrogate representation.
Thus, at least at the 5% level, we do not recommend using
results obtained with the truncated surrogate set for policy
development. However, the results shown in Figures 3a, b
are not qualitatively different from those in Figures 2a, b
though, as expected, with fewer surrogates, ResNet selected
less cells. In Figure 3a, ResNet selected 2 816 cells with an
area of 308,219.26 sq. km. or 4.41% of the total area; in Figure
3b, 5,637 cells with an area of 618,275.36 sq. km. or 8.85% of
the total area.
Figures 4a shows the selected cells for the entire Eastern
Himalayas at a 0.01° x 0.01° longitude x latitude scale when
we used 32 surrogates, ignoring slope, aspect, and elevation,
with a target of representation of 5%; Figure 4b is the result
when we set the target at 10%. As noted before, we used
the truncated set for computational efficiency. Below we
will show that it does not perform as poorly for the Eastern
Himalayas as it does for the entire Indian region. The fact that
conservation planning in the Indian region takes place at the
regional rather than the subcontinental level motivated this
exercise. We investigated whether there is a significant loss
of economy if targets of (local) representation must be met
within the confines of each region. In Figure 4a, ResNet
selected 17,985 cells with an area of 19,745.31 sq. km. or
4.91% ofthe total area; in Figure 4b, 35,945 cells with an area
of 39,386.67 sq. km. or 9.8% ofthe total area. Table 2 shows
the shows the percentage of the area selected for each of the
15 ecoregions.
At both the 5% and the 10% surrogate representation
level, seven out of the 15 ecoregions achieved the
corresponding level of area representation (5% or 10%). That
the truncated surrogate set performs relatively well for the
Eastern Himalayas is probably a result of their being fewer
ecoregions present compared to the entire Indian region (15
versus 63). (It is unlikely that this difference in percentage is
due to the change in the spatial scale of analysis. In general,
surrogates perform better at larger spatial scales Garson et al.
(2002a), and this effect is likely to be enhanced when there
are fewer surrogates present.)
With the increasing population and per capita resource use
in India, the near future will see an increase in anthropogenic
demands on habitats. Consequently, systematic conservation
planning and management is a necessity, not a luxury.
However, going beyond the preliminary and incomplete
results of this analysis will require the availability of GIS-
based biogeographic data on as many taxa and habitat
types as possible at regional or larger scales. Planners
should regard the creation of such databases as one of the
highest priorities for biodiversity conservation in India.
This will require large-scale collaborative efforts between
governmental and non-governmental institutions including
those involved in education and environmental advocacy.
These efforts must begin with an assessment of what data
are available in computerized and non-computerized
forms, and also of the data quality. This was the first stage
of the framework presented in the section "Systematic
biodiversity conservation planning and management".
Collaborative biodiversity conservation programs would be
beneficial in South Asia because participant countries could
work together to solve funding, infrastructure, and training
problems (Gupta et al. 2002). International collaborations of
this sort have proven fruitful for mangrove conservation in
South Asia (Clusener-Godt 2002, WWF and ICIMOD 2001),
bioprospecting for marine natural products (Berlinck et al.
2004), and research in medicinal botany supported by the
International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (Lewis 2003).
In addition, a larger proportion of the biodiversity content
of the Indian region could be surveyed if several countries
participate in the conservation planning process (WWF
and ICIMOD 2001, CEPF 2005). Collaborative conservation
programs will require the establishment of common
standards for the representation of data, a problem that
is yet to be fully solved anywhere. Until the creation of
databases conservation planning in India can only be ad hoc,
a procedure that is known to be uneconomical (Pressey 1994,
Pressey and Cowling 2001). Such ad hoc CAN selection often
leads to the inclusion of biologically irrelevant areas in CANs,
and thus the illegitimate exclusion of human economic
and other interests. For obvious political reasons, this is a
situation that is best avoided.
With respect to the entire Indian region, the Himalayas
are over-represented in our nominal CANs (Table 1,
Figures 2a, b). This should come as no surprise because
we used elevation, slope, and aspect along with climatic
parameters derived using them. This region is known to
have high biodiversity content. However the selection of a
large number of cells in the coastal region along the Arabian
Sea west of India may be entirely an artifact of the data set
used. The variation in environmental parameters selected
by our analysis does not correspond to known variation in
biodiversity content. It is also surprising that ResNet selected
relatively few cells in the Western Ghats. We conjecture that
while environmental estimator surrogates may adequately
capture biological diversity, they do not perform well at
capturing endemism which is much more dependent on the
biogeographic history of a place. Similarly, the representation
of the Sunderbans and Nicobar Island rain forests is not
adequate. In peninsular India, ResNet also selected cells
along fronts simultaneously separating soil association
types and climatic regimes. Planners have generally ignored
these in conservation decisions in this region. Our results
suggest that conservation practitioners should systematically
investigate these areas for their biodiversity content: this
is the only case where our results are more than merely
illustrative and may have practical use.
For the Eastern Himalayas, the most interesting result
is that the selected cells are fairly evenly distributed across
most of the Eastern Himalayas. If this result continues
to hold when a conservation plan uses demonstrably
adequate surrogate sets, and across spatial scales, it will
have an important implication for conservation planning
for the Eastern Himalayas: conservation planning must pay
 Research paper
attention to the entire region, and not only to a small set of
large conservation areas. Our results are partially discordant
with those obtained by Pawar et al. (2007) who found priority
areas to be somewhat more concentrated towards the higher
elevation regions of the landscape (rather than the low
elevation Brahmaputra valley). However, that study used
modeled amphibian and reptile distributions as surrogates
and explicitly noted that planners should not interpret the
results to identify priority areas for all biota.
Finally, we emphasize again that we intend the analysis
presented here to be illustrative and not to guide policy.
We have shown how decision-makers can draw many
conclusions with implications for conservation planning
even from limited data so long as those data are represented
as a GIS model. However, for such an analysis to have even
partial relevance for policy formulation, at the very least,
the conservation plan must include accurate vegetation
maps. If, as a first step, such maps were made available, then
future studies could test the adequacy ofthe surrogates used
here. Classification of remotely sensed data (that is, satellite
imagery) can often provide such vegetation maps. However,
our results do suggest that planners should systematically
investigate the fronts separating soil association types and
climatic regimes in peninsular India for their biodiversity
features. We end with the suggestion that conservation
practitioners make it an immediate priority to create GIS-
based vegetation maps for India's two recognized hotspots of
vascular plant endemism, the Western Ghats and the Eastern
Software availability
Users can download the ResNet Ver. 1.2 software package
for free from
This work was supported by NSF Grant No. SES-0645884.
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 Research paper
Expansion of an ancient lake in the Kathmandu basin of Nepal
during the Late Pleistocene evidenced by lacustrine sediment
underlying piedmont slope
Kiyoshi Saijo1* and Kazuo Kimura2
1 Division of Social Studies Education, Miyagi University of Education, Sendai 980-0845, JAPAN
2 Department of Integrated Arts and Science, Okinawa National College of Technology, Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture,
905-2192, JAPAN
* For correspondence,
We investigated the geomorphology and surface geology ofthe piedmont slope on the margins ofthe Kathmandu
basin in the Nepal Himalaya in order to establish Late Pleistocene geography and especially the extent of the
ancient lake in the basin. The piedmont slope consists of detrital deposits of colluvial or fluvial origin, underlain
and interfingered by organic muddy sediments with radiocarbon ages of about 30,000 yr BP. Detritus from the
surrounding hillslopes and lacustrine sediments were alternately deposited as the lake level rose at about that
time. The ancient lake in the Kathmandu basin thus reached a level of between 1400 and 1440 m at around 30,000
yr BP, when it covered almost the entire basin. Because the cols on the surrounding divide are higher than this
estimated lake level, and because reddish soils and weathered bedrock are observed on these cols, we conclude
that overflow from an outlet other than the Bagmati River probably did not occur. Drainage ofthe ancient lake by
the Bagmati River began just after 30,000 yr BP.
Keywords: Nepal, Kathmandu basin, piedmont slope, lacustrine, lake level change, Late Pleistocene
According to local legend, Kathmandu basin once held a
large lake; the god Manjushree cut the gorge at Chobhar with
his mighty Sword of Wisdom to release the lake and open the
highly fertile Kathmandu basin to human settlement. The
geological record tells a similar story. In this paper we present
our findings about the maximal extent of Kathmandu Lake in
the Late Pleistocene.
The Kathmandu basin, an intradeep (intramontane
basin) on the southern slope of the Nepal Himalaya, is filled
with a thick sequence of lacustrine sediments deposited
during the Pliocene and Pleistocene. Several terrace surfaces
formed as the level of the ancient lake fell. Many studies
of these basin-fill deposits and geomorphic surfaces have
clarified the paleoclimate and sedimentary environment as
well as crustal movement in and around the basin (Yoshida
and Igarashi 1984, Gautam et al. 2001, Kuwahara et al. 2001,
Sakai 2001, H Sakai et al. 2002, Fujii and Sakai 2002, Dill et al.
2003, Paudayal and Ferguson 2004).
Yoshida and Igarashi (1984) identified six terraces in the
basin: from highest to lowest, the Pyanggaon, Chapagaon,
Boregaon, Gokarna, Thimi, and Patan geomorphic surfaces.
The higher surfaces of middle Pleistocene age (Pyanggaon,
Chapagaon, and Boregaon) are distributed only in the
southern part ofthe basin, whereas the Gokarna, Thimi, and
Patan surfaces, which formed during the last glacial period,
occupy the more northerly part of the basin. Yoshida and
Igarashi attributed this distribution to a northward shift of
the lake caused by uplift of the southern part of the basin.
In contrast, T Sakai et al. (2002) explained the distribution
of geomorphic surfaces in terms of a difference in the
sedimentary environments of the northern and southern
parts of the basin at the time of maximum lake level. They
suggested that the higher geomorphic surfaces in the
southern basin had been caused, not by crustal movement,
but by the disparities in the catchment area and geomorphic
conditions. These divergent explanations for geomorphic
developments in the Kathmandu basin require further
In order to elucidate the paleogeography of the
Kathmandu basin, particularly the date at which the ancient
lake reached a maximal extent and when it began to drain,
we have undertaken a geomorphological investigation ofthe
margins of the basin, where evidence for the lake's extent
is most likely to be found. We focus on the characteristics,
distribution, and interrelationship of the piedmont slope
and the lacustrine sediments.
Study area and characteristics of the piedmont slope
The floor of the Kathmandu basin, currently between 1250
and  1400 m, is surrounded by ridges of approximately
Himalayan Journal ofSciences 4(6): 41-48, 2007
Available online
Copyright©2007 by Himalayan Association for the
Advancement of Science
 Research paper
Figure 1. Distribution ofthe
piedmont slope and Gokarna
geomorphic surface in the
Kathmandu basin (modified
from Yoshida and Igarashi, 1984).
Numbered stars show study sites.
Geomorphic surfaces lower than
Gokarna surface are omitted.
Gokarna surface
2000 m in elevation. At present, the basin is drained by the
Bagmati River.
The piedmont slope is well developed where the basin
floor meets the surrounding hillslope (Figures 1 and 2). This
slope, mostly extending to elevations greater than 1400
m, has a smooth surface with a slightly concave or almost
linear longitudinal profile that dips 7° to 15° basinward.
In many places, it transitions basinward into the Gokarna
surface and fades into narrow valleys in the back slopes.
This slope corresponds to the alluvial and talus cones of
Yoshida and Igarashi (1984), the colluvial slope of Saijo
(1991), and the alluvial cones of Sakai et al. (2001). Based
on aerial photo interpretation and analysis of the consistent
geomorphological and altitudinal characteristics, we regard
 Research paper
the three higher terraces in the southern part of the basin
as part ofthe piedmont slope. Saijo (1991) showed that the
"colluvial slope" (which we refer to as the "piedmont slope"
in this paper) is the result of frequent landslides and debris
flows as the climate warmed and became more humid after
ca. 25,000 yrBP.
Stratigraphy of the piedmont slope
We observed the materials composing the piedmont slope at
several locations. If the sediments contained organic matter,
they were dated by conventional radiometric methods
at Beta Analytic Radiocarbon Dating Laboratory, Miami,
Florida, USA. The characteristics of the sediments are as
Loc. 1 (1430 m)
Location 1 is in a gully that dissects the piedmont slope in the
southwestern part ofthe basin. A poorly sorted gravel layer,
alternating beds of organic mud and sand, and a gravelly
layer, in descending order, are exposed in the sidewall of the
gully (Figures 3 and 4). On the basis of its sedimentary facies,
we conclude that the uppermost layer, composed mainly of
cobble- to boulder-sized subangular and subrounded gravel
with a silty matrix, is a debris flow deposit. The underlying
unit consists of three conspicuous organic mud layers that
interfinger sand layers containing abundant pebble- to
cobble-sized gravel, sometimes in lenticular beds, and a
little inorganic clay. These sedimentary features indicate that
the depositional environment repeatedly changed between
swamp and river channel, with occasional small debris
flows. Radiocarbon ages obtained from the three organic
mud layers are 29,190 ± 500 yr BP (Beta-135432), >36,940 yr
BP (Beta-135433), and 37,130 ± 340 yr BP (Beta-135434), in
descending order (Figure 4). The lowest layer is an unsorted
and unbedded gravelly deposit. Most ofthe gravel is pebble-
to cobble-sized and deeply weathered. We interpret this
layer, like the uppermost, to be a debris flow deposit.
Loc. 2 (1460 m)
Location 2 is in another gully dissecting the piedmont slope
in the southwestern part of the basin. We found, from top
to bottom, a poorly sorted gravelly deposit containing silty
layers in several horizons, a clayey layer accompanied by
gravel and sand, and a silty layer (Figure 4). The upper
gravelly deposit is composed of cobble- to boulder-sized
subangular gravel in a silty matrix. These characteristics
suggest that this deposit is of debris flow origin. Although the
clayey layer beneath the gravelly deposit is composed mostly
of grayish white or brownish gray clay, an organic mud ca.
10 cm thick and dating to 32,160 ± 200 yr BP (Beta-140257)
is intercalated in the middle part of the layer. This organic
mud is interpreted to have been deposited under swampy
conditions. The base of the overlying gravelly deposit is
clearly defined, and undulating in places, suggesting an
unconformable relationship between these two units.
Loc. 3 (1420 m)
Location 3 is on the piedmont slope in the northernmost part
of the basin. Two organic mud layers, which also contain
Figure 2. A view ofthe piedmont slope near Loc. 1. The
smooth slope gently dipping northward (left side) and partly
cultivated is a piedmont slope
Figure 3. Piedmont slope deposits and organic mud near
Loc. 1
abundant inorganic matter, alternate with sandy or clayey
layers and are overlain by a sandy bed (Figures 4 and 5).
The surficial sandy bed is partly stratified and composed of
grayish white coarse sand and scattered angular granule- to
pebble-sized gravel. On the basis of their sedimentary facies,
we conclude that the two organic mud layers alternating with
sandy or clayey layers were deposited in a swamp into which
a small river channel occasionally flowed and the surficial
sandy bed is a fluvial deposit. The top horizons of the two
organic mud layers yielded radiocarbon ages of 37,100 ± 1150
yr BP (Beta-140259) and >40,300 yr BP (Beta-140260).
 Research paper
o -i
1 -"
29190 ± 500 yrBP    a
> 36940 yr BP a
37130 ± 340 yrBP ^.
i -
Q  <7
200 yr BP
1  -1
1150 yrBP    ^
>40300 yr BP
2ia o
1 ■"
910 yrBP      _1f
Loc .4
Organic mud
Dated horizon by radiocarbon method
Radiocarbon age and code no.
Figure 4. Stratigraphic sections of Locs. 1^4
Loc. 4 (1435 m)
Location 4 is on the piedmont slope in the northeastern
part ofthe basin. A gravelly deposit, clay and sand beds with
pebble-sized gravel, and an organic mud layer, in descending
order, are exposed (Figure 4). The upper gravelly deposit
is composed of subangular and subrounded gravel within
a sandy matrix. The organic mud layer contains abundant
sand and granule- to pebble-sized gravel, sometimes in
lenticular beds. The sedimentary facies shows that this
organic mud layer is a swampy sediment and the overlying
clastic sediments are of debris flow origin. The uppermost
part of the organic mud was dated at 33,220 ± 910 yr BP
At all these sites (Locs. 1^1), the uppermost parts of
the piedmont slope are composed of poorly sorted gravel
or sandy layers with gravel. Both their facies and their
geomorphological settings indicate that these sediments
(hereafter, piedmont slope deposits) are colluvial or
fluvial deposits derived from the hillslope. The sediments
underlying the piedmont slope deposits are organic muds
including, or alternating with, elastics. These characteristics
suggest that the sediments were deposited in a swampy
environment where inflow of colluvial or fluvial sediments
occurred frequently.
Elevations and topsoils of low cols on the surrounding
All of the contemporary rivers in the Kathmandu basin
belong to the Bagmati River system. The surrounding ridges,
which divide the Bagmati River catchment from the Kosi
River catchment to the east and the Trisuri River catchment
to the west, have some relatively low cols. Because, as
 Research paper
discussed below, we found that the level ofthe ancient lake in
the basin was above 1400 m at around 30,000 yr BP and that
the lake water covered almost the entire basin, we believe it
is likely that the ancient lake was drained at that time not by
the Bagmati River but by another river. To investigate this
possibility, we surveyed the elevations of two of the low cols
and examined their topsoils.
Loc. 5 (1520 m)
The lowest col between the Bagmati River catchment and the
Kosi River catchment, elevation ca. 1520 m, is near the village
of Saga (Loc. 5). Red soil and weathered bedrock are found
on the western (Kathmandu basin side) slope of this col
down to 1440 m, whereas organic muddy sediments, which
we regard as lacustrine sediments deposited in the ancient
lake in the Kathmandu basin, are distributed below 1430 m
(Figure 6). We interpret the red soil and weathered bedrock
as the product of long-term weathering under warm and
humid climatic conditions, and their presence at a given site
suggests that the site was not submerged (at least not during
the Late Pleistocene). Thus, the Saga col and its western
slope above 1440 m have not been submerged throughout
the Late Pleistocene.
Loc. 6 (1465 m)
The lowest col between the Bagmati and the Trisuli River
catchments, which is also the lowest col anywhere on the
divide, is the Tinpiple col (Loc. 6), at an elevation of ca. 1465
m. Organic muddy sediments, which we regard as lacustrine
sediments deposited in the ancient lake, can be recognized
up to 1400 m on the Kathmandu basin side of this col, and
red soil and weathered bedrock are exposed at Loc. 6 (Figure
7), suggesting that this site has not been submerged since the
Late Pleistocene.
Because organic muddy sediments underlie or interfinger
with the piedmont slope deposits, it is evident that swampy
conditions existed at both the northern and southern
margins ofthe Kathmandu basin around 30,000 yr BP. There
are two ways in which a swamp environment might have
formed. One is that swamps were formed at the hillfoot
independent of the ancient lake in the Kathmandu basin.
In that case, the water level of the swamps would have had
no relation to the level ofthe lake. Alternatively, the swamps
may have been part of the shoreline of the lake in the basin,
which means that the shoreline had expanded to approach
the base of the surrounding mountains.
We consider that the formation of local swamps
independently of the lake in the Kathmandu basin is
improbable for the following reasons. First, it is not easy
to explain the appearance of local swamps, which would
require a small depression at all four sites identified as
Loc. 1, Loc. 2, Loc.3, and Loc. 4. At Loc. 1 and 2, small
depressions might have formed in relation to activity of
the Chandragiri fault (Saijo et al. 1995) or the Thankot
fault (Asahi 2003), which pass near these locations with
NW-SE strike. However, no geomorphological settings
likely to produce small depressions, such as active faults
1  Piedmont slope 1
!• v
1 Organic mud 1                    B^V
Figure 5. Piedmont slope deposits and organic mud at Loc. 3
Red soil and weathered bedrock (1440 m)
Figure 6. Distribution of lacustrine sediments and red soil
and weathered bedrock near Loc. 5
or landslides, are recognized near Loc. 3 and 4. Further,
the depositional ages of the organic muddy sediments of
Loci to 4 are almost identical. If each of them had been
deposited in a different swamp, then their similarity in age
would be difficult to explain. The hypothesis that the organic
 Research paper
Figure 7. Distribution of lacustrine sediments and red soil
and weathered bedrock near Loc. 6
muddy sediments were deposited on the margin of the lake
in the basin does not raise the same questions, and is thus
plausible. Therefore, we regard the organic mud underlying
the piedmont slope deposits as sediments laid down near the
shoreline ofthe ancient lake in the Kathmandu basin. Figure
8 shows our interpretation of a sedimentary environment in
which deposition alternated between organic sediments and
detritus as the lake level rose in the foothills. Radiocarbon
dates obtained from the uppermost organic sediments
indicate that they were deposited at around 30,000 yr BP,
suggesting that the shoreline of the ancient lake at that time
approached the base ofthe surrounding mountains, and that
lake water occupied almost the entire basin (Figure 9).
We know from the elevations ofthe described locations
that the water level of the ancient lake was certainly above
1400 m at around 30,000 yr BP. At Loc. 5, however, the
lake level apparently did not exceed 1440 m, whereas the
elevation of Loc. 2 is obviously higher than 1440 m. This
discrepancy can be explained by the fact that Loc. 2 is on
the hanging wall of the active Chandragiri fault. The rate
of vertical displacement of this fault is estimated to be 1.0
mm/yr (Saijo et al. 1995). Therefore, the ground surface near
Loc. 2 may have been uplifted 30 m or so during the past
30,000 years, suggesting that the original elevation of Loc. 2
might have been ca. 1430 m. Although the lake level about
30,000 yr BP cannot be determined precisely, we presume
that it was at 1420 m or higher.
If tectonic movement is discounted, the elevations of
the low cols were higher than the estimated lake level. In
addition, the red soil and weathered bedrock observed on
the cols indicate that they have not been covered by lake
water and, therefore, that the lake water did not overflow
the cols. Even though the ancient lake persisted until 10,000
yr BP (Sakai 2001), drainage ofthe lake by the Bagmati River
began just after 30,000 yr BP. The Gokarna surface emerged
as the lake drained. Debris continued to be supplied from
the surrounding mountains even after recession of the lake,
resulting in the formation ofthe piedmont slope.
Piedmont slope
4>                                  ^t^^^^^^^t
^0^r^s <> "iSyv<2>8$XXXXXXXXXy
Lake water
Lake level
Figure 8. Schematic diagram showing development of
interfinger of piedmont slope deposits and lacustrine
sediments as lake level rose (chronologically, from top to
We undertook a geomorphic survey of the marginal area
of the Kathmandu basin to investigate its paleogeography
and landform development in relation to lake level change
during the Late Pleistocene. The major results are as follows:
 Research paper
Before                   c_--
30.000 yr BP
~\/£   ■■:■■■    -■ ^l
>^\T -
Hillslope and
Gokarna surface
Debris supply
;a 30.000 y
r RP          f?*5<X>&00<3
A" ^%:^?
\          \S*v^7>rv^"-/^xi
• V                 t<>^a
Piedmont slope
*    >r"^       5/
\ x\       _ s\
After 30,000 yr BP
 ^-oY/tf- -^J^
Movement of
lake shore
Figure 9. Paleo geography ofthe Kathmandu basin around 30,000 yr BP
1. The piedmont slope is well developed at the foot of the
mountains surrounding the Kathmandu basin. This slope,
which dips basinward at about 10°, has a smooth surface
and a slightly concave to almost linear longitudinal profile.
It transitions basinward into the Gokarna surface and fades
into narrow valleys in the back slopes.
3. The organic muddy sediments under the piedmont slope
deposits yield radiocarbon ages mostly around 30,000 yr BP.
This fact, along with the sedimentary environment, suggests
that the ancient lake covered almost all of the Kathmandu
basin at that time. We estimate that the water level of this
huge lake was then between 1400 and 1440 m.
2. The surficial deposits (mostly several meters thick) of
the piedmont slope are composed of detritus of colluvial
or fluvial origin, and organic muddy sediments underlie or
interfinger with the detrital deposits. The detrital deposits
from hillslope (piedmont slope deposits) are inferred to have
been deposited near the shoreline of the ancient lake in the
Kathmandu basin, alternating with lacustrine sediments as
the lake level rose.
4. Elevations ofthe cols on the surrounding divide are higher
than the estimated highest level of the expanded ancient
lake. In addition, we observed reddish soils and weathered
bedrock on these cols, suggesting that they were never
covered by lake water and, therefore, that the lake did not
drain through an outlet other than the Bagmati River.
5. Drainage of the ancient lake by the Bagmati River began
 Research paper
just after 30,000 yr BP. The Gokarna surface emerged as
the lake drained. Debris continued to be supplied from the
hillslopes even as the lake receded, resulting in the formation
ofthe piedmont slope.
We thank Kazunori Arita and the lapan Society for the Promotion
of Science for financial support of this work by Grant-in-Aid for
Scientific Research (A) No. 11691112.
Asahi K. 2003. Thankot active fault in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
Himalaya. Journal ofthe Nepal Geological Society 28: 1-8
Dill HG, DR Khadka, R Khanal, R Dohrmann, F Melcher and K Busch.
2003. Infilling ofthe Younger Kathmandu-Banepa intermontane
lake basin during the Late Quaternary (Lesser Himalaya, Nepal):
a sedimentological study. Journal of Quaternary Science 18(1):
Fujii R and H Sakai. 2002. Paleoclimatic changes during the last 2.5
myr recorded in the Kathmandu Basin, Central Nepal Himalayas.
Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 20(3): 255-266
Gautam P, A Hosoi, T Sakai and K Arita. 2001. Magnetostratigraphic
evidence for the occurrence of pre-Brunhes (>780 kyr)
sediments in the northwestern part of the Kathmandu Valley,
Nepal. Journal oftheNepal Geological Society 25 (Special Issue):
Kuwahara Y, R Fujii, H Sakai and Y Masudome. 2001. Measurement
of crystallinity and relative amount of clay minerals in the
Kathmandu Basin sediments by decomposition of XRD patterns
(profile  fitting). Journal of the Nepal Geological Society 25
(Special Issue): 71-80
Paudayal KN and DK Ferguson. 2004. Pleistocene palynology of
Nepal. Quaternary International 117: 69-79
Saijo K 1991. Slope evolution since latest Pleistocene time on the
north slope of Chandragiri, Kathmandu valley in the middle
mountains of Nepal. Science Reports of Tohoku University, 7th
Series (Geography) 41(1): 23-40
Saijo K, KKimura, GDongol, T Komatsubara and HYagi. 1995. Active
faults in southwestern Kathmandu Basin, central Nepal. Journal
ofthe Nepal Geological Society 11 (Special Issue): 217-224
Sakai H. 2001. Stratigraphic division and sedimentary facies ofthe
Kathmandu Basin Group, central Nepal. Journal of the Nepal
Geological Society 25 (Special Issue): 19-32
Sakai H, R Fujii and Y Kuwahara. 2002. Changes in the depositional
system of the Paleo-Kathmandu Lake caused by uplift of the
Nepal Lesser Himalayas. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 20(3):
Sakai T, AP Gajurel, H Tabata and BN Upreti. 2001. Small-amplitude
lake-level fluctuations recorded in aggrading deltaic deposits
of the  Upper Pleistocene  Thimi  and  Gokarna  formations,
Kathmandu Valley,  Nepal. Journal of the Nepal  Geological
Society25 (Special Issue): 43-51
Sakai T, AP Gajurel, N Ooi, H Tabata, T Takagawa and BN Upreti.
2002. Formation ofthe higher terraces in the Kathmandu basin,
Nepal. Chikyu Monthly 24(5): 352-358 (in lapanese)
Yoshida M and Y Igarashi. 1984. Neogene to Quaternary lacustrine
sediments in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Journal ofthe Nepal
Geological Society 4 (Special Issue): 73-100
 Research paper
Phenology and water relations of eight woody species in the
Coronation Garden of Kirtipur, central Nepal
Bharat B Shrestha*, Yadav Uprety1, Keshav Nepal2, Sandhya Tripathi3, and Pramod K Jha
Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, NEPAL
'Present address: Department of Human Ecology, Vrije University, Brussel, BELGIUM
2 Present address: Institute of Biomolecular Reconstruction, Somoom University, KOREA
3 Present address: Prithvi Narayan Campus, Tribhuvan University, Pokhara, NEPAL
* For correspondence, email:
Phenological activities of eight woody species planted in Kirtipur (central Nepal) were examined, each for one
dry season between September 2001 and June 2003. From Pressure Volume (P-V) analysis, we determined relative
water content at zero turgor (RWCz), osmotic potential at zero turgor (\\i_) and full turgor (yia), and bulk modulus
of elasticity (s) once a month through the course of dry season. Both evergreen species (Cotoneaster bacillaris
Wall., Quercus lanata Sm., Ligustrum confusum Decne., Woodfordia fruticosa (L.) Kurz.) and deciduous species
(Celtis australis Linn., Alnus nepalensis D.Don., Bauhinia variegata Linn, and Lagerstroemia indica Linn.) put
out their new leaves during the dry summer when day length and temperature were increasing. Generally, bud
break coincided with concentrated leaf fall during the dry summer and the leaf fall reduced total leaf area to its
lowest value. The deciduous species were leafless for one to three months, followed by a prolonged period of leaf
production and shoot elongation. Evergreen and deciduous species manifested distinct adaptive strategies to
water deficit. Evergreens can reduce osmotic potential (\|/s) to its low value and maintain proper water potential
(\|/) gradient from soil to plant, which facilitates absorption of water during dry season. Elastic tissue in deciduous
species is coupled with leaf shedding during the dry season; both factors may help maintain proper \|/s for new
growth during dry period. One evergreen species (Woodfordia fruticosa) and three deciduous species (Celtis
australis, Bauhinia variegata and Lagerstroemia indica) have inherently high dehydration tolerance due to their
elastic tissue. During drought there has been osmotic adjustment in Quercus lanata, and elastic adjustment in
Ligustrum confusum, Celtis australis and Lagerstroemia indica.
Keywords: Himalayas, Pressure Volume (P-V) curve, relative water content (RWC), osmotic adjustment, elastic
Phenology, the distribution of plant activities in time, is
highly correlated with seasonal changes in water status of
trees (Borchert 1994a, b). Leaf phenology in both seasonal
and non-seasonal environments is a central element in plant
strategies for carbon gain (Kikuzawa 1995). The timing of
leaf fall and bud break in tropical and subtropical trees is
generally determined by plant water status, which in turn
is a function of the interaction between the environmental
water status and the structural and functional state of the
tree (Reich 1994). Seasonal variation in water status not
only determines phenology but also the distribution of trees
and forest composition (Borchert 1994a, Zobel et al. 2001).
Engelbrecht et al. (2007) has shown that differential drought
sensitivity shapes plant distribution in tropical forests at both
regional and local scales. The role of drought in controlling
species distribution and performance is still poorly
understood for Himalayan trees, although indirect evidence
and existing measurements suggest that tree distribution is
strongly related to drought (Zobel and Singh 1995, Tewari
1998, Poudyal et al. 2004, Shrestha et al. 2006a).
In the context of global warming, mountain ecosystems
are being affected more than lowlands, and the extent of
drought in mountains is likely to increase in the future
(Iyngararasan et al. 2002). Alteration in seasonal coordination
of photoperiod and thermal regime affects plant performance
(Hanninen 1991), competitive relationships among forest
trees, and species distribution and abundance (Lechowicz
and Koike 1995). Because the water relations of Himalayan
tress cannot be accurately understood only by inference from
forest studies elsewhere (Zobel et al. 2001) there is a need
for detailed study on water relations and their relationships
to phenology and adaptation to seasonal drought. Due to
the monsoon, Himalayan trees are exposed to drought for
several months each year (Zobel and Singh 1997). Despite
their unequal leaf life  spans, most trees of this region
Himalayan lournal ofSciences 4(6): 49-56, 2007
Available online
Copyright©2007 by Himalayan Association for the
Advancement of Science
 Research paper
Table 1. Studied species with their distribution
in Nepal
Name of Species
Distribution (masl)*
Evergreen species
Cotoneaster bacillaris Wall.
Quercus lanata Sm.
Ligustrum confusum Decne.
Woodfordia fruticosa (L.) Kurz.
Deciduous species
Celtis australis Linn.
Alnus nepalensis D.Don.
Bauhinia variegata Linn.
Lagerstroemia indica Linn.
* Following Press et al (2000)
produce new leaves and flower during the dry summer
season just before the June - September wet season (Ralhan
et al. 1985, Shrestha et al. 2006b). Although the environment
is dry, trees must maintain the proper turgidity required for
growth (Hsaio 1973). Tree species may postpone (Shrestha et
al. 2006b, Borchert 1994b) or tolerate dehydration by elastic
and osmotic adjustment (Grammatikopoulos 1999, Fan et
al. 1994, Mainali et al. 2006). In this paper, we have analyzed
pressure volume (P-V) curves of eight woody species, and
we consider the connections between water relations
parameters   (relative   water   content,   osmotic   potential,
osmotic and elastic adjustment) and phenology, in order to
understand species' natural distribution and adaptation to
seasonal drought.
Materials and methods
We selected for study eight woody species (four evergreen
and four deciduous, Table 1), all native to Nepal and planted
at the Coronation Garden (27°40'-27°41' N, 85°16'-85°18' E,
elevation 1280-1400 masl), Tribhuvan University (Kirtipur,
Kathmandu, Nepal). Nomenclature and altitudinal range of
distribution follows Press et al. (2000). Ligustrum confusum
and Woodfordia fruticosa are shrubs and the others are
trees. Five species (Cotoneaster bacillaris, Quercus lanata,
Ligustrum confusum, Woodfordia fruticosa, and Alnus
nepalensis) were sampled from September 2001 to June 2002
(Year 1) and the remaining three (Celtis australis, Bauhinia
variegata and Lagerstroemia indica) from August 2002 to June
2003 (Year 2). Although the natural habitats of these species
range from the tropics to the temperate zone, they have been
planted in a subtropical environment at the Coronation
Garden. The climate has three distinct seasons: hot and dry
summer (February to May), hot and moist rainy season (June
to September) and cold and dry winter (October to January).
Annual rainfall during the study period was 1872 mm in 2002
and 1648 mm in 2003, with about 80% falling during the rainy
season (Figure 1). Temperature and rainfall of Year 1 were
not significantly different from those of Year 2 (ANOVA, p
= 0.9 and 0.8, respectively). On this basis, we assumed that
the year-to-year variation in water relations attributes was
statistically insignificant for the study period.
Phenological activities were recorded every month, and
r  700
- 600
- 400
-  100
Figure 1. Climate data of Kathmandu valley during the study years (2002 and 2003). (Source: Dept. of Hydrology and
Meteorology, Kathmandu, Nepal). The data were recorded at Tribhuvan International Airport (27° 42' N, 85° 22' E, alt. 1336
masl), which is about 5 km east ofthe study site.
 Research paper
Table 2. Major phenological events of various species. The marked individual of Celtis australis was a sapling; thus it did not
produce flowers and fruit. Ligustrum confusum, Woodfordia fruticosa and Bauhinia variegata did not retain fruit, probably
due to premature abscission of flowers. Seasons: summer
(Feb to May),
rainy (Jun to Sep) and winter (Oct to Jan)
Species name
Bud break
Leaf production
Leaf fall
Leafless month (s)
Cotoneaster bacillaris
Quercus lanata
Ligustrum confusum
Woodfordia fruticosa
Celtis australis
Feb-mid Mar
Alnus nepalensis
mid Feb-mid Mar
Bauhinia variegata
Lagerstroemia indica
Table 3. Mean values of water relations parameters of evergreen vs. deciduous species and canopy vs. under-canopy species.
Also shown is the significance level (p values) of ANOVA between groups of species (N: number of species, and n: total
number of samples). Symbols, RWCz: Relative water content at zero turgor, \\i_: osmotic potential at zero turgor, \|/sf: osmotic
potential at full turgor, s: bulk modulus of elasticity
(N= 4, n= 29)
(N= 4, n= 35)
Canopy species
(N= 4, n= 33)
Under canopy sp
(N= 4, n= 31)
RWCz (%)
82 ±6
75 ±7
78 ±9
79 ±5
H>sz (MPa)
-2.72 ± 0.78
-1.86 ±0.38
-2.43 ± 0.84
-2.05 ± 0.53
H>sf (MPa)
-2.10 ±0.39
-1.47 ±0.31
-1.87 ±0.46
-1.6 ±0.42
s (MPa)
Tsf (MPa)
s (MPa)
Figure 2. Species level variation of relative water content at
zero turgor (RWCz, %), osmotic potential at full turgor (\|/sf,
MPa) and bulk modulus of elasticity (s, MPa). Evergreen sp:
1. C bacillaris, 2. Q. lanata, 3. L. confusum, 4. W fruticosa;
Deciduous sp: 5. C australis, 6. A. nepalensis, 7. B. variegata,
8. L. indica
every two weeks during the period of active growth in three
marked individuals of each species. Timing of bud break, leaf
production (shoot elongation), flowering, fruiting and leaf fall
were recorded. Leaf fall was estimated visually based on fresh
leaf litter on the ground and presence of leaves on ultimate
branches of the marked individuals. The pressure-volume
(P-V) curve was developed by the bench drying method
(Pallardy et al. 1991) at Central Department of Botany,
Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu. A single sample from the
fully exposed side was randomly collected from one of the
marked trees of each species and used for the construction
of P-V curve on each sampling date, with rehydration period
24 h. During peak rainy months (July-August in Year 1 and
August in Year 2), and also when twigs of deciduous species
at sampling height were leafless, the plants were not sampled
for P-V analysis. Relative water content (RWC) and twig
water potential (\|/, negative of balance pressure, BP) were
determined simultaneously and repeatedly. BP was measured
by pressure chamber (Model 1000, PMS Instrument Co.,
Corvallis, OR USA). From the P-V curve, we estimated RWC at
zero turgor (RWCz), osmotic potential at full turgor (\|/sf) and
zero turgor (\\i_) and bulk modulus of elasticity (s).
Statistical analysis We compared mean RWCz, \|/sz, \|/sf, and s
using Post Hoc Multiple Comparison of one-way ANOVA.
ANOVA was also used to compare these parameters for
evergreen and deciduous species, shrubs and trees, and
 Research paper
canopy and under-canopy species. We determined the
Pearson correlation (r) among the parameters for each
species. We established the relationship between the
parameters using linear regression analysis. We used the
annual mean RWCz, \|/sf and s of individual species to develop
a 3-D diagram. SPSS (2001) version 11 for Windows was used
for all statistical analysis.
Phenology     We found the leaf lifespan of evergreen species
80 -
70 -
^ -\j
i-» « *
)(1   X    x
-©— hjsz
- qjsf
• t„£=.
15   C_
100  -r
80  -
60 -
100 i
90 -
80 -
100 7
80 -
70 -
^ c
»   »   0   »
10    «"
5    r
0       _;
- 20
15   1
Figure 3. Relative water content at zero turgor (RWCz, %),
bulk modulus of elasticity (s, MPa), osmotic potential at full
turgor (\|/sf, MPa) and zero turgor (\\i_, MPa) for evergreen
species (A. Cotoneaster bacillaris B. Quercus lanata C.
Ligustrum confusum D. Woodfordia fruticosa). The values
were obtained from the pressure volume (P-V) analysis of
a single sample in each sampling date, (ttt indicates leaf
production and -W4- leaf fall)
Figure 4. Relative water content at zero turgor (RWCz, %),
bulk modulus of elasticity (s, MPa), osmotic potential at full
turgor (\|/sf, MPa) and zero turgor (\\i_, MPa) for deciduous
species (A. Celtis australis B. Alnus nepalensis C. Bauhinia
variegata D. Lagerstroemia indica). The values were
obtained from the Pressure Volume (P-V) curve analysis of
single sample in each sampling date, (ttt indicates leaf
production and -W4- leaf fall)
 Research paper
Table 4. Annual mean of relative water content at zero turgor (RWCz, %), summer mean RWCz, osmotic potential at zero
turgor (\\t_, MPa), osmotic potential at full turgor (\y f MPa), difference between maximum and minimum \|/   (A\|/sf, MPa),
bulk modulus of elasticity (s, MPa) and difference between maximum and minimum s (As, MPa). The significant difference
between species is shown by different letters (p = 0.05). Sampling years - 1: 2002, 2: 2003
Mean RWC
Cotoneaster bacillaris (n=8)
Quercus lanata (n=7)
Ligustrum confusum (n=7)
Woodfordia fruticosa ((n=7)
Celtis australis (n=9)
Alnus nepalensis (n=8)
Bauhinia variegata (n=9)
Lagerstroemia indica (n=9)
* CT: canopy tree, UCT: under
canopy tree,
S: shrub. Under canopy
trees and shrubs are
under canopy species.
Table 5. Pearson correlations (r) among various attributes of plant water relations for each species
T sz
Vt x
-0.23 ns
int at
p = 0.05, **
Significant at p =
= 0.01, ns: non significant
to be slightly more than one year. The deciduous species
remained leafless for one to three months (Table 2). In all
species buds broke in March and/or April. Among evergreen
species, leaf production and shoot elongation were completed
in June; thus they retained fully mature leaves during the
rainy season. Deciduous species continued to produce
new leaves until late rainy season. The marked individuals
of Celtis australis were saplings (dbh < 10 cm, height > 137
cm) in which leaf production continued until November. In
Lagerstroemia indica leaves produced in the first flushing
matured in two months; but this species has multiple leafings
and produced 2-3 crops of leaves. In all evergreen species, leaf
production was completed in two (Quercus lanata) to four
(Woodfordia fruticosa) months (Table 2). Leaf fall was most
concentrated in Cotoneaster bacillaris, which completed the
process in two months.
Water relations parameters
Evergreen vs. deciduous
In this study, evergreen and deciduous species differed
significantly (ANOVA, p = 0.000) when parameters were
considered separately (Table 3) but the difference was not
clear when mean values of RWCz, \|/sf and s were considered
together (Figure 2). Woodfordia fruticosa is an evergreen
shrub but resembles deciduous species in most parameters
(Table 4, Figure 2). Evergreens had higher RWCz and s than
deciduous species, but \|/ and \|/ were lower in evergreens.
RWCz was highest in two evergreen species (Cotoneaster
bacillaris and Ligustrum confusum) and lowest in a deciduous
species (Celtis australis) (Table 4). Mean A\|/sf for evergreens
was 0.92 MPa, compared with 0.64 MPa for deciduous. \\i_
and s did not vary significantly among the deciduous species
but the variation of these parameters was significant among
the evergreen species. As was 8.26 MPa and 4.87 MPa for
evergreen and deciduous species, respectively.
Species level variation
All evergreen species studied except Woodfordia fruticosa
exhibited reduced osmotic potential (\|/s) before their leaves
flushed out (Figure 3). Cotoneaster bacillaris had the highest
mean RWCz and the lowest mean \\i_ and \|/sf of all species
(Table 4). In this species \|/ increased (Figure 3A) during
bud break (Table 2). Quercus lanata had low RWCz and \|/sf in
April (Figure 3B) when the trees were producing new leaves
(bud break, Table 2). In April the \|/sf value for Q. lanata fell
by 0.71 MPa from the value recorded for March. During the
summer months s apparently did not change. Ligustrum
confusum, with the highest RWCz among all species, reduced
 Research paper
RWC and s to their lowest values in the month of bud break
(Figure 3C). In Woodfordia fruticosa RWCz was low in March
and increased, along with \|/sf, until late summer (Figure 3D).
During March s decreased by 2.65 MPa from the maximum
value (8.48 MPa) recorded in January.
Celtis australis had the lowest RWCz among the eight
species (Table 4). During April and May, when RWCz was
decreasing, s was low (Figure 4A). In May RWCz and s both
were at their lowest. In Alnus nepalensis, RWCz and \|/ were
high in April but s was lowest in the same month (Figure
4B). For the dry period (October to May) RWCz was lowest
in December, when \|/sf decreased to the lowest value. During
bud break (March, Table 2, Figure 4B) RWCz and \|/s both were
increasing whereas s was decreasing. Bauhinia variegata
also had very low RWCz, in the same range as Celtis australis
(Table 4). \|/sf was lowest in November; after November, it
increased until June, apart from a slight decrease in January
(Figure 4C). In B. variegata, mean s and it's June value for s
were the lowest ofthe eight species' (Table 4). Lagerstroemia
indica had RWCz <80% except in June (Figure 4D). After
November RWCz decreased until reaching its lowest value in
April. From March through May, when RWCz was low, \|/sf was
high and s low.
The shrubs and trees (Table 4) in this study did not
differ significantly (p> 0.05) in the measured water relations
parameters. Similarly, canopy and under-canopy species
differed significantly (p<0.05) in \|/sf, \\i_ and s but not in RWCz
(Table 3). Canopy species had lower \\i_ and \|/sf but higher
s than the under-canopy species. Species with a primary
distribution range in the temperate region (2000-3000 masl)
had high RWCz, while the other species (except Celtis australis)
with their primary distribution range in the subtropical
region (1000-2000 masl) had low RWCz. In contrast to other
temperate species, C. australis had the lowest RWCz (Table 4)
but distributed up to temperate region.
Relations among the parameters
The correlation between RWCz and \|/sf was significant only in
Woodfordia fruticosa (Table 5). The correlation between RWCz
and s was significant in Cotoneaster bacillaris, Ligustrum
confusum, Celtis australis and Lagerstroemia indica. \|/sf
increased when s declined but the correlation was significant
only for C. bacillaris, Alnus nepalensis and L. indica.
Linear regression analysis showed that low \|/s in our
species was associated with high RWCz, although the relation
was only marginal (R2 = 0.05, p = 0.08 for \\i_ vs RWCz; and R2
= 0.08, p<0.05 for \|/sf vs RWCz). s appears to be an important
parameter which could explain >50% ofthe variation in RWCz
and \|/sf (Figure 5). Species with less elastic tissue (higher s)
had higher RWCz. Both RWCz and s were higher for evergreen
species than for deciduous. Species with more elastic tissue
(lower s) had higher values of \\i_ (Figure 5).
The studied evergreen and deciduous species all put out
their new leaves during the dry months of March and April
(Table 2), when day length is increasing and temperatures
are rising (Figure 1), bearing the cost of leaf production
every year. A one-year leaf lifespan has been observed in
2     2 2 0*?>
2o?o        2o 11.   /<$
R2 = 0.54, p <0.001
0 10 20 30
Bulk modulus of elasticity (s, MPa)
0 10 20 30
Bulk modulus of elasticity (s, MPa)
Figure 5. Linear regression of bulk modulus of elasticity
against relative water content at zero turgor (A) and osmotic
potential full turgor (B); 1: evergreen species, 2: deciduous
most of the broadleaved evergreen species of the central
Himalayas (Ralhan et al. 1985, Poudyal et al. 2004). However,
the duration of leaf production is longer in most of the
deciduous species than in evergreens (Table 2, Figures 3,
4). Species with a shorter period of leaf production appear
to have more concentrated leaf fall. This difference in leaf
production may lead to differences between evergreen
and deciduous species as concerned many structural and
functional traits (Volkenburgh 1999). Due to the prolonged
period of shoot elongation and leaf production in the
deciduous species, the leaves are widely spaced and fresh
new leaves are present throughout the rainy season. This can
maximize the photosynthetic rate (Kikuzawa 1995) and may
compensate for the short leaf longevity of deciduous species.
 Research paper
Such a pattern of leaf production is common among most of
the early successional species in the central Himalayas (Singh
and Singh 1992). The maximum photosynthesis during
rainy season may be low in these evergreens, as the rate of
photosynthesis declines with the aging of leaves (Kikuzawa
1995). Deciduous species like Celtis australis, Alnus nepalensis
and Bauhinia variegata retained >50% of leaves during the
dry winter season. They may represent a transitional stage
between the winter deciduous species of temperate latitudes
and the evergreen species ofthe Himalayas, with leaf lifespan
of nearly one year (Singh and Singh 1992).
Deciduous species, which could reduce RWC to lower
value before turgor loss, have more elastic tissue and higher
v|/ and \|/ than evergreens (Table 3, Figure 5). This supports
the suggestion that elastic cell walls are important for drought
resistance in trees (Fan et al. 1994, Lambers et al. 1998) but
appears to contrast Davis (2005) who showed that a less
elastic cell wall was also important in drought resistant trees.
It appears that elastic walls allow tissue to maintain turgor
longer as water is lost, while the stiff (less elastic) walls cause
v|/ to drop quickly as water is lost, increasing the gradient of
v|/ from soil to leaf and increasing water uptake (DB Zobel,
Oregon State Univ., per. comm.). The question seems to be
which of these two possibilities is most important in different
situations. In general, our evergreen species have stiff cell
walls and lose turgor at high tissue water content (RWC,
Figure 5A), but they have lower \|/s than do deciduous species
(Figure 5B). Low \|/s maintains the necessary \|/ gradient from
soil to plant and promotes water absorption during the dry
season. Deciduous species have different strategies; they
avoid excessive dehydration by shedding leaves, and also
maintain turgidity despite low tissue water content thanks to
their elastic tissues.
In Cotoneaster bacillaris, although correlation between
RWCz and s was significant (p = 0.01, Table 5), no osmotic
or elastic adjustment was apparent during the dry period.
However, low \|/s (Table 4) obviously facilitates absorption
of water from soil during seasonal drought. Quercus lanata
reduced \|/ in April just before leaf flushing, which helped
to maintain turgidity for new growth. When \|/ is low, plants
can maintain turgidity at low RWCz. Osmotic adjustment of
this kind has also been reported in other oaks (e.g., Quercus
petraea) where soil drying induced the accumulation of
fructose and glucose (Epron and Dreyer 1996). Myrica
esculenta, an evergreen understory tree of subtropical to
temperate region in the Himalayas, also showed a large
osmotic adjustment (1.07 MP) in response to seasonal
drought (Shrestha et al. 2007). Osmotic adjustment could
enable the plant to maintain turgor at lower water potential
(\|/) and continue to absorb water from relatively dry soil
(Lambers et al. 1998). In Ligustrum confusum increasing
tissue elasticity (or decreasing s, i.e. elastic adjustment)
helped to maintain required turgidity during new growth.
Although Quercus lanata and Ligustrum confusum showed
osmotic and elastic adjustment, respectively, their high RWCz
(Table 4) may not allow successful establishment at dry sites
(Lambers et al. 1998). Having most elastic tissue ofthe studied
plants (lowest s) and lowest RWCz (Table 4), Woodfordia
fruticosa has an inherently high tolerance for dehydration.
This inherent capacity of dehydration tolerance is more
important than adjustment (Fan et al. 1994). This capacity
has enabled Woodfordia fruticosa to grow on dry rocky slopes
of river valleys in central Nepal (BBS, per. observation).
Except for Alnus nepalensis, all deciduous species (Table
2) appear to have an inherent capacity to tolerate dehydration,
due to their elastic tissue (low s) and low RWCz (Table 4); thus
they can grow successfully at dry sites (Lambers et al 1998).
In deciduous species, water conserved in the tree trunk after
leaf fall is an important resource for new growth during the
dry period (Borchert 1994a, Shrestha et al. 2006b). Celtis
australis and Lagerstroemia indica, both producing new
leaves in March, reduced their RWCz during dry months by
increasing tissue elasticity (Figure 4A, D). Bauhinia variegata
generally had low s and RWCz (Table 4, Figure 4C), indicating
an inherent capacity to tolerate dehydration. The change
in \|/sfands in response to moisture stress was not apparent
in B. variegata (Figure 4C). Assuming that species in which
osmotic adjustment is important reduce \|/ during drought
(Lambers et al. 1998), the deciduous species of this study
did not show any osmotic adjustment. This result contrasts
with findings of Auge et al. (1998) who reported that in
twelve deciduous species high dehydration tolerance was
associated with increasing capacity for osmotic adjustment.
Due to their inherent capacity to tolerate dehydration
(Bauhinia variegata) or to elastic adjustment (Celtis australis
and Lagerstroemia indica), the deciduous species (except
Alnus nepalensis) were able to thrive at dry sites (Kramer and
Boyer 1995). Without this capacity, A. nepalensis is commonly
confined to north facing moist slopes (Jackson 1994). Water
conserved in tree trunk after leaf fall contributed to a high
v|/s (Borchert 1994b), which might be adequate to begin new
growth during the dry summer.
In conclusion, evergreen and deciduous species both
sprout new leaves during the dry summer, when day length
is increasing and temperatures are rising. Evergreens can
reduce \|/s and maintain a viable \|/ gradient from soil to plant,
which facilitates absorption of water during the dry season.
Elastic tissue in deciduous species is associated with leaf
shedding during the dry season; both strategies may help
maintain proper plant \|/ for new growth during the dry
period. One evergreen species (Woodfordia fruticosa) and
three deciduous species (Celtis australis, Bauhinia variegata
and Lagerstroemia indica) had inherently high dehydration
tolerance due to the presence of more elastic tissue. Weak
osmotic adjustment was recorded in Quercus lanata, and
elastic adjustment was observed in Ligustrum confusum,
Celtis australis and Lagerstroemia. indica during drought.
We are thankful to DB Zobel (Oregon State University, Oregon, USA)
for his critical comments and suggestions on the first draft of the
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 Research paper
Plant species richness and composition in a trans-Himalayan inner
valley of Manang district, central Nepal
Mohan P Panthi1, Ram P Chaudhary1 and Ole R Vetaas2
1 Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, NEPAL
2 UNIFOB - Global, University of Bergen, Nygaardsgaten 5, N-5015 Bergen, NORWAY
* For correspondence, email:,
Species richness normally decreases with increasing elevation. However, a hump and a plateau have been
documented in species richness curves in the Nepal Himalaya. We sampled species richness and composition
in 80 plots located in the north and south aspects of the dry valley of Manang, a trans-Himalayan inner valley
of Nepal, between 3000 and 4000 masl. We used regression and ordination to relate species richness and
composition to the physical environment. Pinus wallichiana, Juniperus indica, Abies spectabilis, Betula utilis and
Salix species are the dominant tree species. B. utilis is found only in the moist north aspect said Juniperus species
are more common in the dry south aspect. Moisture is the most important determinant of species richness and
composition. At the local level, our results show a plateau in species richness at the elevation range of 3000-4000
masl. There were significantly more species on the north aspect than on the south.
Keywords: aspect, altitude, beta-diversity ordination, species richness, soil moisture
Species richness is currently the most widely used measure
of diversity (Stirling and Wilsey 2001). It is a simple and easily
interpretable indicator of biological diversity (Peet 1974,
Whittaker 1977). A complex of various factors determines
species richness (Schuster and Diekmann 2005). Numerous
studies have examined the relationships between plant
species richness, climate and spatial variables. In broader
scale, plant diversity correlates with size of area (Rosenzweig
1995), latitude (Currie and Paquin 1987), elevation (Stevens
1992, Merganic et al. 2004), precipitation (Whittaker and
Niering 1965) and evapotranspiration (Currie 1991, Rohde
1992). Variation of species richness with elevation has been
known for a long time. Many studies reported a decline in the
number of species with increasing elevation (Brown 1988,
Stevens 1992, Begon et al. 1996, Lomolino 2001). However,
Rahbek (1995) showed a mid-altitude peak in species
richness. Other studies, that found humped relationship
between species richness and altitude, include Whittaker and
Niering (1975), Liberman et al. (1996), Grytnes and Vetaas
(2002) and Carpenter (2005).
Grytnes and Vetaas (2002) analyzed plant species
richness along the Himalayan altitudinal gradient in Nepal.
They concluded that interpolated species richness in the
Himalaya showed a hump-shaped structure. The maximum
richness of flowering plants of Nepal has been found
between 1500 and 2500 masl. A study of total species richness
from ca. 300 to 6000 masl in Nepal indicated a very little
variation between 3000 and 4000 masl (Grytnes and Vetaas
2002) generating a high-elevation plateau. Observing this
pattern of species richness on large scale, the aim of present
work was to test this hypothesis on local level by sampling
in a dry inner valley of Nepal Himalaya. The altitudinal
range considered for the present work falls under the range
of this plateau. The null hypothesis for the study was that
there is no change in species richness between 3000 and 4000
Although the interpolated species richness gives one
value for each elevation band, it is well known that richness
may vary at different aspect in mountainous environment
(Ferrer-Castan and Vetaas 2003). Aspect significantly
influences richness and composition of plants. Literatures
show that the primary impacts of aspect are expressed
through regulating energy budgets and site moisture
relationships. However, there is less generality in the effects
of these impacts on the expression of vegetation (Bale et al.
1998). Mostly the north facing aspects get more moisture
than the south facing aspects in the Himalayas (Vetaas 2000).
In our knowledge, no studies have been done so far on the
influence of aspect on species richness in the dry inner
valley of Nepal Himalaya. The main aims ofthe present study
are: (1) to describe plant species composition and relate it
to environmental factors using ordination; (2) to test null
hypothesis deduced from the interpolation, of no change in
richness in between 3000 and 4000 masl; and (3) to evaluate
the effect of aspect on species richness and composition.
Himalayan lournal ofSciences 4(6): 57-64, 2007
Available online
Copyright©2007 by Himalayan Association for the
Advancement of Science
 Research paper
Materials and methods
Study area The study area, a part of Annapurna Conservation
Area, lies in Manang district of Nepal in the northwest Central
Himalayas (Figure 1). The U-shaped inner valley extends east
to west and is situated between 28°37'56" and 28°39'55" N
latitude and 83°59'83" and 84°07'97" E longitude. The valley is
surrounded by the Annapurna range on the south; Manasalu
on the east; Peri, Himlung and Choya on the north; and
Damodar and Muktinath on the west. The elevation ranges
from 3000 to 3500 masl and the climate is dry, characteristic
of the trans-Himalayan region. Due to the rain shadow
of the Annapurna massif, the mean annual precipitation
is ca. 400 mm (ICIMOD 1995). Average maximum and
minimum temperatures, recorded at Jomsom (the nearest
meteorological station approximately 12 km west ofthe study
area with similar climatic conditions) were 7.9°C and -1.75°C
in winter and 22.6°C and 14.15°C in summer, respectively
(DHM 1999). Snow covers the valley during winter. Soil
moisture decreases from east to west in the valley, and the
south facing slopes are significantly drier than those facing
north (Bhattarai et al. 2004). The Marsyangdi River drains the
Vegetation is dominated by Pinus wallichiana. On the
north aspect P. wallichiana is abundant from the lower belt
up to 3500 masl, above which Abies spectabilis and Betula
utilis are common. Juniperus indica and Rosa sericea with
other shrubs are dominant on the dry south facing slopes
(Miehe 1982). The ground layer consists of scattered patches
of thorny cushion plant species such as Caragana, Astragalus
with species of Primula, Saxifraga and Androsace. The
riverbanks are occupied by Salix, Populus and Hippophae
Table 1. DCA summary
Lengths of gradient
Cumulative % variance
of species data
Table 2. Inter-set correlation of main underlying
environmental gradients with CA - axes
Altitude                0.51
Aspect                  0.62
• District headquarters
• Settlement
Major Trail
above 6000 meters
5000 ■ 6000
below 3000 meters
Figure 1. Location ofthe study area: Upper Manang, a trans-Himalayan dry inner valley in Manang, Central Nepal.
(Source: Pawan Ghimire, Department of Geography, University of Bergen)
 Research paper
Table 3. Total species richness
range (masl)
Total Total Species       Species
species in   species in   common    only in N
N aspect     S aspect     in both       aspect
only in S
■ Jam Imm
('a a
Andr sir
Tltal at!
A Al
Malta emo
Tana lib
& pl
loty opp
Colo rnr'AA
Juni md_\     gj£
Loni angfa
- - - Sttl Wm-a	
Tlnw lm A Cfim lib A
Rosa set    A      yjgu a£i
Herb muc A       A       ^jnc V1
I'ibeeru ^Hipptih     ',g^"  4
Berbkut Thalvir  I
,   .. Mini com
Labtata £
Tanagra ^"^
A  A
Anap triA     Rosa mac Satt sik
^A&Ocmbar tC"t^hOpy
A Loniqui ■
Thalfoi |
 1 1-
Astr met
Euphstr   ^ Pole fru
_Btoof    Spircw^M
,   ,  .       Sausswi        Afolv
WrfeA    tfaxipl
"Gera him
A Mod lb
%u ,<li      Ce"'Pud
inenrriv A       "
■Ibinpc       Hot bif
Mvri rai
Rose alp   a
l in>
Axis 1
Figure 2. Ordination biplot diagram for species and environmental variables.
Plots are displayed by triangles and species are labeled by the first four letters of
the generic name and three letters ofthe species name. Complete plant names
are given in Appendix 1. Right side ofthe axis 1 represents north aspect and left
side represents south aspect ofthe study area.
species. Picea smithiana and Tsuga
dumosa grow on at few locations on the
north aspect ofthe valley.
Field   sampling Data   on   species
composition and richness of vascular
plants were collected from 80 plots during
May and June 2004. Plots (10 m x 10 m)
were located using a stratified random
sampling design. The sampling was done
at 100 m intervals from 3200-4000 masl
on the north and south aspects of the
valley. Individuals of all species rooted
in the plots were counted. The following
environmental variables were assessed for
each plot: percentage of canopy cover of
each tree species (visual estimation), pH
and moisture of soil (using a DM 15 gauge,
Takemura Electric Works Ltd., Japan),
elevation (using an altimeter), and slope
(with a clinometer). The nomenclature
follows Hara et al. (1978, 1982), Hara and
Williams (1979), and Press et al. (2000).
All the voucher specimens have been
deposited at the Tribhuvan University
Central Herbarium (TUCH), Kathmandu,
Numerical methods We used ordination
to analyze species composition and beta
diversity. Detrended correspondence
analysis (DCA) is a widely used indirect
ordination method (e.g. Okland and
Eilertsen 1996, Exner et al. 2002, Leps
and Smilauer 2003) and provides an
effective approximation of the underlying
environmental gradients (ter Braak 1995).
DCA (Hill and Gauch 1980) was used to
describe the total species composition
and differences between the two aspects
and to estimate the compositional
gradient length in SD-units (i.e. beta
diversity) (Hill 1973, Leps and Smilauer
2003). A preliminary analysis showed
SD-unit greater than two and no arch-
effect; we used correspondence analysis
(CA) to relate species composition to the
environmental factors. This was done on
the total data (80 plots) and on the two
aspects separately (n = 40).
We also performed regression on the
total data set in order to analyze species
richness. We used species richness as
the response variable and the principal
environmental factors (moisture, aspect,
pH, canopy) as explanatory variables.
We checked distribution on normal
Gaussian and Poisson models and
selected the former as more suitable. We
 Research paper
also performed separate analyses for each aspect in relation
to canopy cover, elevation and moisture. The difference
in mean species richness between the two aspects was
tested by student t-test. We analyzed the data using S-PLUS
(Anonymous 2002), as well as CANOCO version 4.5 (ter Braak
2002) and its graphical programme CANODRAW (Smilauer
Species composition DCA results (Table 1) show that the
compositional gradient lengths of the first and second axes
are 3.0 and 2.8 (eigenvalues 0.451 and 0.298), respectively.
The DCA summary reveals that the first gradient is by far
the longest, explaining 9.7% of the total species variability,
whereas the second and higher axes explain much less. Pinus
wallichiana was the only dominant tree species found on
both north and south aspects. It is located near the central
position of the species plot of ordination diagram (Figure
2). Juniperus species were located towards the negative
side of first axis, i.e. on the dry side, while Betula utilis and
Abies spectabilis appeared towards positive side of first axis,
which is moister. B. utilis was reported only from the north
aspect. Other woody species as Rosa sericea and Lonicera
species were found at low elevations of both aspects, while
Rhododendron lepidotum was noticed at high elevation
of the north aspect. At least one or two species of Berberis
were reported throughout the altitudinal gradient. Among
herbs, Polygonatum oppositifolium, Stellera chamaejasme,
Androsace spp., Potentilla fruticosa, and Primula spp. were
Correspondence analysis (CA) revealed that moisture,
soil pH and canopy cover are the main underlying
environmental gradients for species composition. The first
and second axes are well correlated with the environmental
factors (r= 0.855 and 0.865, respectively) and the correlation
for the other axes is considerably lower (not shown). Moisture
has the strongest correlation with the first axis (Table 2, Figure
2). The second axis correlates with canopy cover and the third
axis with pH. The south aspect is relatively dry with high pH
(6.8). The two spatially independent factors - elevation and
aspect - were correlated with both first and second axes.
Species richness Sixty eight plant species belonging to
50 genera and 31 families (Appendix 1) were recorded.
The number of species increased from 3200 to 3400 masl,
followed by a gradual decrease up to 3800 masl. Above 3800
masl, the number of species again increases towards high
elevation (3900-4000 masl, Table 3). In general, however,
variation in species richness as function of elevation between
3000 and 4000 masl is not significant, and a high-elevation
plateau in richness is found. Species richness is correlated
with moisture (r = 0.232, Figure 3). Normally, south aspect
is dry and north aspect is moist. Mean species numbers on
the south and north aspects are 10.0 and 11.8, respectively.
Species richness is significantly higher on the north aspect
than on the south (t = -2.86, p = 0.005 for 78 df). The total
number of species reported from the north aspect is 58, with
beta diversity 3.10 and eigenvalue 2.7. The total number of
species from the south aspect is 46 with beta diversity 2.97
Figure 3. Correlation of total species richness with moisture
(arbitrary unit), r = 0.232
and eigenvalue 2.1. In total 36 species are common to the
both aspects (Table 3).
A monotonic decline in the number of species with increasing
elevation has often been considered a general pattern (Brown
1988, Stevens 1992). However, our results indicate that
species richness does not follow this pattern in our study
sites. A plateau in species number is observed between 3000
and 4000 masl. This is consistent with patterns for overall
interpolated species richness in the Nepal Himalaya found
by Grytnes and Vetaas (2002) and Vetaas and Grytnes (2002).
Studies that have employed the interpolative method on
elevation gradients are becoming more common, as for
example Fleishman et al. (1998) for butterflies and Grytnes
and Vetaas (2002) for plants. Our empirical results confirm
that there is a little change in species richness between 3000
and 4000 masl. The small variation in species number may be
due to seasonal movement of animals. Livestock (yak, horse,
mule, sheep and goats) are brought to alpine pasture to graze
during the summer months of April to September (Bhattarai
et al. 2004) and stay in the valley bottom during the winter.
Seed dispersal via animal dung, hooves and coats (Sykora et
al. 1990, Poschlod et al. 1998, Moe 2001) may be important
in reducing disparities in species number along the elevation
The striking high-elevation plateau of species richness
might seem anomalous, but similar patterns have been
found previously, particularly in ornithological surveys.
The species richness of birds in Manu National Park of Peru
(Patterson et al. 1998) and also in Bolivia (Herzog et al. 2005)
show similar plateau with identical richness values. However,
this phenomenon is still not well understood (Herzog et
al. 2005). Gill et al. (1999), describing the changes of plant
diversity after fire, mention a period of plateau formation in
species richness. Fire is not used as a management tool at our
 Research paper
study site. Although there were occasional forest fires, their
influence on species richness is uncertain.
Moisture is the main environmental factor impacting
plant species richness and composition. There is a significant
(r= 0.232) relationship between moisture and speciesrichness.
Moisture is positively correlated with canopy and negatively
correlated with pH (Figure 2). Soil pH is also related to the
availability of soil nutrients, but has no apparent relation to
species richness. Increase in species richness from acidic to
neutral soil is common in temperate forests (Palmer 1990,
Pausas 1994) and a pattern of richness increasing with higher
pH has been reported in the Arctic tundra (Gough et al. 2000).
Grime (1973) found that the maximum number of species in
unmanaged grassland occurs at a pH of 6.1- 6.5, with species
richness declining in both acidic and alkaline soils. Canopy is
also a significant factor, probably through its influence on the
light intensity reaching the ground, as suggested by several
authors (e.g., Spurr and Barnes 1973, Tilman 1985).
Aspect regulates the quantity and duration of soil
moisture, partly through temperature (Parker 1991). The
northern aspect is moister with more canopy cover than
the southern aspect; these two factors both have a positive
influence on species richness. An understanding of aspect
is important in forest management and planning (Bale and
Charley 1994), because of its influence on tree diameter
growth (Verbyla and Fisher 1989) and forest productivity
(Hutchins et al. 1976). The natural forest in the inner valley
extends from 3000 to 4200 masl in the north aspect, while its
upper limit is below 4000 masl in the south aspect. Aspect also
relates with species richness. Since the influence of aspect on
species richness in the inner valleys of the Himalayas has
not been studied adequately, we could not make further
As elevation increases, temperature decreases with
the reduction of evapotranspiration on the slopes (Eklund
et al. 2000). The elevation contributes to a difference in
mean temperature of up to 3.0°C (lapse rate 0.51°C/100
m, Vetaas 2000). In an empirical analysis involving North
American plants and animals, Currie (1991) concludes that
potential evapotranspiration is the best predictor of animal
species richness. For tree species, actual evapotranspiration
was shown to be the best predictor of richness, with a
monotonically increasing relationship (Currie and Paquin
1987, Francis and Currie 1998).
The beta diversity of the north aspect (3.10) exceeds
that of the south aspect (2.1), suggesting greater species
turnover on the north side. The turnover in species is mainly
attributable to high moisture, along with other supporting
environmental factors. Besides the common species found
on both the north and south aspects, a total of 22 species
reported from the north aspect were not found in the south
aspect. In dry habitats, species number increases towards
the relatively wetter areas, as observed by Kassas and Zahran
(1971) in Egypt, andbyVetaas (1993) inSudan. InNew Zealand
total tree species richness was found to increase with soil and
atmospheric moisture (Leathwick et al. 1998). In dry and semi
arid areas moisture is often the limiting factor, and thus has
a strong influence on species richness (Olsvig-Whittaker et
al. 1983, Belsky et al. 1989). The difference in microclimate
between the north and south aspects is associated with
differences in the composition and richness of species, which
can be compared with the findings of Pook and Moore (1966)
on the influence of aspect on the composition and structure
of forest on Black mountain, Canberra.
In short, total species richness shows a plateau between
3000 and 4000 masl at the local level. Species richness is
significantly higher on the north facing slope than on the
south facing slope. It also can be concluded that moisture
and factors influencing evaporation (i.e. canopy and aspect),
are the main environmental factors influencing species
composition and richness in the dry inner valley of the trans-
We would like to acknowledge the cooperation of the people of
Manang Valley. We thank BK Ghimire for his energetic help during
the field work and Pawan Ghimire for providing a map of Manang.
Our research was sponsored by the Norwegian Council for Higher
Educations Programme for Development Research and Education
(NUFU Project ID: PRO 04/2002), and OR Vetaas was funded by
Norwegian Research Council (project no. 148910/730). MP also thanks
the Central Department of Botany, TU, for laboratory facilities, and
Tribhuvan University, Nepal for granting a study leave.
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 Research paper
Plants recorded from sampled plots
Plant name
Abie spe
Abies spectabilis (D. Don) Mirb.
Anap tri
Anaphilis triplinervis (Sims.) C. B. Clarke
Androsace lehmanniLWaR. exDuby
Andr sar
Androsace sarmentosa Wall.
Andr str
Androsace strigillosa Franch.
Anem riv
Anemone rivularis Buch.-Ham. ex DC.
Arti gam
Artemisia gemeliniLWeb. Ex Stechm
Astr mel
Astragalus melanostachys Benth. ex Bunge.
Berb ari
Berberis aristata DC.
Berb koe
Berberis koehneana CK. Schneid.
Berb muc
Berberis mucrifolia Ahrendt
Betu uti
Betula utilis D. Don
Bist aff
Bistorta affinis (D.Don) Greene
Cara jub
Caragana jubata (Pall.) Poir.
Cara suk
Caragana sukiensis C.K.Schneid.
Clem bar
Clematis barbellata Edgew.
Clem tib
Clematis tibetana Kuntze
Colo sps
Colocacea species
Comp sps
Composite species
Co to mic
Cotoneaster microphyllusWaR. ex Lindl.
Crem ren
Cremanthodium reniforme (DC.) Benth.
Ephe ger
Ephedra gerardiana Wall.ex Stapf
Equi sps
Equisetum species
Euph str
Euphorbia stracheyi Boiss.
Gali sps
Galium species
Gentiana pedicellata (D.Don) Griseb.
Gera him
Geranium himalayense Klotzsch
Gras one
Grass species
Gras two
Grass species
Hedy kum
Hedysarum kumaonense Benth. ex Baker
Hipp tib
Hippophae tibetana Schltdl.
lasm hum
Jasminum humile L.
luni com
Juniperus communis Pall.
luni ind
Juniperus indica Bertol.
luni squ
Juniperus squamata Buch.-Ham. ex D.Don
Labiatae species
Loni ang
Lonicera angustifoliaWaR. ex DC.
Loni Ian
Lonicera lanceolataWaR.
Loni qui
Lonicera quinquelocularis Hardw.
Loni torn
Lonicera tomentella Hook. f. & Thomson
Maha emo
Maharanga emodi (Wall.) A. DC.
Myri ros
Myricaria rosea W.W.Sm.
Pedi tib
Pedinogyne tibetica (C.B.Clarke)Brand
Pinu wal
Pinus wallichiana A.BJacks
Poly ho o
Polygonatum hookeri Baker
Poly opp
Polygonatum oppositifolium (Wall.) Royle
Pote fru
Potentilla fruticosa var. rigida (Wall, ex Lehm.) Wolf.
Prim den
Primula denticulata Sm.
Rhododendron lepidotum Wall, ex D. Don.
 Research paper
Rosa mac
Rosa macrophylla Lindl.
Rosa ser
Rosa sericea Lindl.
Rose alp
Roscoea alpina Royle
Sali cal
Salix calyculata Hook. f. ex Andersson
Salix sikkimensis Andersson
Saus del
Saussurea deltoidea (DC.) Sch. Bip.
Saxifraga pilifera Hook. f. & Thomson
Spir can
Spiraea canescens D. Don
Stel cha
Stellera chamaejasme L.
Tana gra
Tanacetum gracile Hook. f. & Thomson
Tara sik
Taraxcum sikkimense Hand.- Mazz.
Tara tib
Taraxacum tibetanum Hand.- Mazz.
Thai cul
Thalictrum cultratumWaR.
Thalictrum foliolosum DC.
Thai vir
Thalictrum virgatum Hook. f. & Thomson
Thym lin
Thymus linearis Benth.
Trig emo
Trigonella emodi Benth.
Vibu eru
Viburnum erubescensWaR. ex DC.
Viola biflora L.
 Research paper
Production of haploid wheat plants from wheat
(Triticum aestivum L) x maize [Zea mays L) cross system
Raj K Niroula1*, Hari P Bimb1, Dhruva B Thapa2, Bindeswor P Sah1 and Sanothos Nayak1
1 Biotechnology Unit, Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Khumaltar, Lalitpur, NEPAL
2 Agriculture Botany Division, Nepal Agricultural Research Council, Khumaltar, Lalitpur, NEPAL
* For correspondence, email:
The present study was carried out taking single Fj wheat and four maize varieties, viz. Arun-1, Arun-2, Khumal
Yellow and Rampur Composite, to determine the efficiency and influence of maize genotypes on various
parameters of haploid formation. Wheat spikelets were hand pollinated with freshly collected maize pollen,
and 1 ml of 100 ppm 2,4-D was immediately injected on the uppermost internode. Twenty-four hours after 2,4-
D injection, the cups of the florets were filled with the same solution of 2,4-D for two more consecutive days.
Seventeen days after pollination, the embryos were excised and cultured in half-strength MS basal medium
supplemented with 30 g/1 sucrose, and 7 g/1 agar. The cultured embryos were maintained at 25°C with 16/8 hours
light/darkness after treating in the dark for seven days at 4°C and incubation in the dark for seven days at 25°C.
Application of 2,4-D after pollination was found to be essential to the recovery of culturable size of embryos. The
significant effect of maize genotypes on frequency of ovary development, embryo formation and haploid plant
per pollinated floret was observed. The mean percentages of embryo formation and haploid plants per pollinated
floret varied from 5.17 to 21.45 and 0.96 to 10.15, respectively, depending upon the maize varieties used. The
highest frequency of embryo recovery and plant per floret was found when wheat F was pollinated with Arun-2
followed by Arun-1 and Khumal Yellow. It is suggested that the production of dihaploids (DHs) in wheat can be
enhanced by using more responsive maize genotypes as pollinators.
Keywords: 2,4-D, caryopsis, floret, haploid embryo, wheat x maize cross
Wheat is one ofthe most important life-supporting cereals in
Nepal and ranks third in terms of area and production. The
aim of the Nepalese wheat breeding program is to produce
high-yielding wheat varieties with enhanced adaptability
and shorter growth period to fit into the rice-wheat cropping
system. In Nepal, however, the development of a homozygous
wheat cultivar can take up to 14 years. In other countries the
time needed to reach homozygosity has been markedly
reduced through the adoption of haplodiplodization (HD)
technique (Baenziger et al. 2001). Since the discovery of
haploid plants from Datura inoxia (Guha and Maheshwari
1964), HD based on gamete selection is considered the fastest
means of cultivar development. This technique not only
substantially reduces the time required to attain absolute
homozygosity, but also increases many fold the selection
efficiency of crop breeding (Choo etal. 1985). In conventional
plant breeding, the chances of obtaining truly homozygous
lines are rare and most selections contain some heterozygous
loci (Baenziger et al. 2001), markedly reducing the precision of
selection. For successful and cost-effective use in a breeding
program, a HD system should fulfill three criteria (Snape et al.
1986): i) easy and consistent production of large numbers of
dihaploids (doubled haploid from polyploid species) from all
genotypes, ii) Dihaploids (DHs) should be genetically normal
and stable, and iii) DHs should contain a random sample of
the parental gametes.
In wheat, haploid/dihaploid plants can be produced
either through anther/microspore culture (Patel et al. 2004,
Liang etal. 1987) or intergeneric crossing of wheat with barley
(Barclay 1975), maize (Laurie and Bennet 1988) and various
other grasses belonging to the Gramineae (Pratap et al. 2005).
Intergeneric crosses between wheat and maize followed by
elimination of the genome of maize has been considered an
efficient method for the induction of haploid zygotic embryos
and subsequent haploid and dihaploid plants (Suenaga and
Nakajima 1989, Inagaki 1997). The maize-mediated haploid
production system for wheat has shown to be less genotype
dependent and more efficient and simple than wheat x
Hordeum bulbosum crosses (Suenaga 1994) or anther culture
(Sadasivaiah et al. 1999, Bitsch et al. 1998, Kisana et al. 1993).
The Hordeum bulbosum technique in wheat is constrained by
the presence of incompatible genes (KTj and Kr2) situated on
the 5A and 5B wheat chromosomes that markedly reduce the
crossability between wheat and H. bulbosum (Falk and Kasha
1981). Nonetheless, maize pollen appears to be insensitive to
Himalayan lournal ofSciences 4(6): 65-69, 2007
Available online
Copyright©2007 by Himalayan Association for the
Advancement of Science
 Research paper
Table 1. Effect of four maize
genotypes on ovary development, embryo :
formation and subsequent haploid plani
: regeneration
Maize genotypes
Fj Wheat (Ace #7103/WK 1204)
No. of florets
No. of developed
No. of embryos
No. of embryos
Haploid plants/
florets pollinated
Khumal Yellow
52 (44.37)a
7 (6.04)a
Rampur Composite
28 (30.65)b
5 (5.17) b
1 (0.96)b
36 (35.18)a
19 (18.51)a
7 (6.81)a
49 (44.32)a
24 (21.45)a
11 (10.15)a
165 (38.631)
26 (6.00)
Coefficient of variation (%)
Figures in parentheses indicate the original mean percentage of well-developed ovaries (ovaries/pollinated floret), embryo
formation (embryos/pollinated floret) and haploid plant formation (seedlings/pollinated florets). Original means within
parentheses followed by the same letter are not significantly different at a =0.05
Plate 1. a) wheat caryopses obtained following selling (arrow)
and wheat x maize intergeneric crosses, b) seventeen-day
old haploid floating embryo in watery embryo sac (arrow),
c) variations in size and shape of embryos
these crossability limiting factors, and pollen can be taken
from a wide range of maize germplasm (Suenaga 1994).
Moreover, the sexual route of dihaploid production systems
in wheat is free from tissue culture associated variations and
the problem of albinism in regenerants. Haploid embryo
induction and subsequent plant regeneration from wheat x
maize crosses have been greatly improved by manipulating
factors affecting the overall efficiency of this system (Gracia-
llamas et al. 2004, Campbell et al. 1998, Suenaga et al. 1997).
Some researchers have reported that this method is also
significantly affected by both wheat and maize genotypes
used in crossing programme (Berzonsky et al. 2003,
Chaudhary et al. 2002, Verma et al. 1999). As a result some of
the combinations yielded better than others.
Although this technique may be useful in more rapidly
breeding elite wheat cultivars, Nepal has not yet tested its
efficacy as compared to other methods. Therefore, as a
part of the breeding efforts, this study was carried out to
standardize the technique of wheat x maize method suitable
for the Nepalese environment, and to study the effect of
maize genotypes on haploid embryo formation and plantlet
Materials and methods
Fj wheat seeds derived from the cross between a landrace,
Ace. No. 7103 (earlybut lowyielder), andWK-1204 (yellowrust
resistant, high yielder, but late) were planted in five earthen
pots; three seeds per pot at a time, and repeatedly planted
four times at six day intervals and grown in natural condition
during the 2004-05 wheat growing season at Khumaltar,
Nepal. Four staggered plantings of each maize cultivar (viz.
Arun-1, Arun-2, Khumal Yellow and Rampur Composite)
were made 10 days after the first wheat sowing at seven day
intervals in order to insure an adequate source of pollen and
to synchronize the flowering time of maize with wheat. Each
maize genotype was planted in six plastic buckets (35 x 25
cm2) at a time and grown in a glasshouse. During winter, the
glasshouse was illuminated in the morning and evening for
four hours to enhance the length of photoperiod. The wheat
plants were thinned to a single plant per pot at the two-three
leaf stage. Once the wheat heads were ready for emasculation,
four healthy pots containing single plants were selected and
five of the spikes from each plant were hand-emasculated
one or two days prior to anthesis. The emasculated spikes
were covered with 5x12 cm plastic bags until pollination.
 Research paper
The experiment was carried out in completely
randomized design with four replications; each spike was
considered a replication. One to two days after emasculation
the spikes of wheat were hand-pollinated with freshly
collected maize pollen from each cultivar; the plastic bags
were then replaced with glassine bags. One ml of 100 ppm
2,4-D was immediately injected on the uppermost internode
of wheat with a one-ml capacity hypodermic insulin syringe
following the procedure of Suenaga and Nakajima (1989). The
pore was sealed with vaseline to prevent leakage. Twenty-
four hours after 2,4-D injection, the cups of the pollinated
florets were filled with the same concentration of 2,4-D;
this was repeated twice on two consecutive days. Once the
application of 2,4-D completed, the whole pollinated spikes
were covered with glassine bag until the embryo harvest.
The extra spike from each pot was treated only with distilled
water as a control. Seventeen days after pollination, the
spikes were harvested and the number of intact, non-selfed
florets from each replication was counted and recorded as
the number of florets pollinated. Well-developed caryopses
were removed from the florets, sterilized in 70% ethanol for
30 seconds, briefly rinsed in sterile distilled water, and then
sterilized for 15 minutes in 1% sodium hypochlorite. Finally,
the caryopses were again rinsed three times with sterile
distilled water. The embryos were aseptically extracted under
a stereomicroscope. Small and poorly developed embryos
were counted to determine the total embryos formed, but
they were not cultured: only well developed embryos longer
than 0.5 mm were cultured aseptically on to 70 mm petri
plates containing a half-strength MS (Murashige and Skoog
1962) basal medium supplemented with 0.5 mg/l nicotinic
acid, 0.1mg/l thiamine HC1, 0.5 mg/l pyridoxine HC1, 2
mg/l glycine, 30g/l sucrose, and 7 g/1 agar as gelling agent.
The cultured embryos were kept at 4°C for seven days in the
dark and then transferred to an incubation room for the next
seven days at 25±1°C in dark. After incubation, the cultured
embryos were kept in a temperature-controlled chamber
for regeneration at 25±1°C with alternating periods of 16
hours light and 8 hours dark. When the plantlets reached
the two three-leaf stage, they were hardened and transferred
into soil and then maintained in a temperature-controlled
chamber as in the off-season nursery. The traits for analysis
included: percentage of swollen caryopses containing florets,
percentage of embryos formed (number of embryos divided
by number of florets pollinated), and frequency of haploid
plants per floret (number of regenerated seedling compared
to total number of pollinated florets).
Depending on the nature of data in respective
parameters, the percentage values were transformed into
arcsine Vx and square root function (x + V2)0'5 in order to
normalize the distribution before analysis of variance
(Gomez and Gomez 1984). The control data was excluded
from statistical analysis. Duncan's Multiple Range Test
(DMRT) was used for comparing the mean effect of maize
genotypes on three parameters using MSTATC (version
1.3, 1989). The ploidy level of regenerated plantlets was
determined by counting the chromosomes in root tip cells,
using the standard acetocarmine squashing technique.
Plate 2. a-b) germinating embryos ten days after incubation,
c) plantlet regeneration after 4 weeks, wheat x Arun-2,
d) established haploid plants obtained from
wheat x Arun-2 crosses
 Research paper
Results and discussion
In the present study the protocol for maize pollen mediated
haploid production in wheat was standardized to existing
laboratory environments. Pollination of wheat florets by
maize pollen following 100 ppm 2,4-D treatment proved
effective in producing haploid embryos. Application of 2,4-
D after pollination was found to be essential to the recovery
of embryos of culturable size via the wheat x maize system
(Plate lc). Each cross combination produced many haploid
embryos (Table 1). The embryos obtained through this system
were observed floating in watery embryo sacs (Plate lb), from
which they were rescued and placed on the culture medium
(Plate 2, a-c). Lack of endosperm in the developed caryopsis
after harvest served as the initial criterion for identifying
haploid embryos. Altogether twenty-six haploid plants were
successfully produced by pollinating 420 wheat florets with
four maize genotypes (Table 1, Plate 2d). We were able to
demonstrate the highly significant effect of maize genotypes
on ovary development, embryo formation and florets per
plant. Among pollen sources, the highest mean percentage
ofwell developed ovaries (44.37%) was recorded for Khumal
Yellow (Plate la), whereas Rampur Composite showed the
lowest (30.65%). Similarly, the mean percentage of embryo
formation varied from 5.17 - 21.45, depending on the maize
variety (Table 1). The highest percentage of embryo recovery
was found when wheat genotype was pollinated with Arun-2.
Among the four maize varieties tested, Rampur Composite
showed the lowest overall results in the tested parameters.
The ratio of haploid plants to florets pollinated ranged from
0.96-10.15% with an average of 6.0%. The plantlets, when
transplanted into soil, grew into green haploid plants. The
haploid status (n = 3x = 21) of these plants was confirmed by
their somatic chromosome counts.
A failure of normal caryopsis and endosperm
development was also reported in wheat when pollinated
with several genera of grasses (Pratap et al. 2005, Chaudhary
et al. 2005). With the post-pollination application of 2,4-
D, however, ovary tissues enlarge as in normal caryopsis
development, appear turgid, but are filled with liquid; within
such caryopses embryos may or may not be found (Suenaga
and Nakajima 1989). In our study also, when 2,4-D was not
applied after pollination, the caryopses failed to grow due
to the lack of endosperm and most of them were shrunken
and collapsed within 9 to 14 days after pollination (data not
shown). The present results are consistent with other studies
that have shown significant influence of maize genotypes on
percent of embryo formation and on ratio of haploid plants
per pollinated floret (Zhang et al. 1996, Suenaga 1994, Verma
et al. 1999, Karanja et al. 2002). Karanja et al. (2002) obtained
8.53-19.34% embryos per floret when wheat was pollinated
with six maize genotypes using similar method except that
wheat was grown in green house. Likewise Suenaga (1994)
also obtained a varying rate of embryo formation efficiency
(1.6-36%) when a single wheat genotype, Fukoho-komugi,
was pollinated with 52 diverse maize genotypes. Based on
analysis of variance, this study also showed highly significant
effect of maize genotypes on frequency of embryo and
subsequent plant formation. Among three better maize
genotypes, the response of Arun-2 was the best for haploid
plant regeneration and plants per floret pollinated. Using this
combination, 11 plants were successfully produced from 111
pollinated florets (Table 1). This figure was found consistent
with the results of Sadasivaiah et al. (1999) who reported an
average of 6.29 plant per 100 florets pollinated. The present
study also clearly indicated that a high incidence of swollen
ovaries does not always lead to a high yield of culturable
embryos; this was the case with Rampur Composite (Table 1),
where only five embryos were obtained out of 28 developed
caryopses. This might have been due to the use of 2,4-D
without maize pollen fertilization.
The larger number of embryos of culturable size is
one of the crucial factors that determine the germination
and post-germination efficiency of wheat x maize system.
The number of embryos of culturable size can be increased
through the judicious application of an auxin source such as
Dicamba, alone or in combination with 2,4-D (Gracia-llamas
et al. 2004). The number of embryos can also be improved
by fine-tuning environmental factors such as temperature
regime (Knox et al. 2000, Campbell et al. 1998) and relative
humidity (Ballesteros et al. 2003), and by using the middle
portion of the spikelet (Martins-Lopes et al. 2001) during
pollination. Moreover the efficiency of this system is also
influenced by other factors such as timing and technique
of hormone manipulation, age of embryo to be cultured
and in vitro conditions (Kaushik et al. 2004). The slight
discrepancy between the results reported in this study and
those of previous studies might be attributable to differences
in wheat and maize genotypes and their interactions that
influenced the rate of embryo recovery and subsequent
plantlet formation (Chaudhary et al. 2002, Verma et al. 1999).
Therefore, selection of better responsive maize genotypes
such as Arun-2, Arun-1, and Khumal Yellow would seem to
offer a likelihood of higher rates of haploid wheat induction.
In summary, wheat x maize system was found to be simple
and efficient and can be used as alternative to other systems
of haploid induction in wheat.
The authors are grateful to K Suenaga, lapan International Research
Center for Agricultural Sciences, 1-2 Ohashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305,
lapan for his assistance in providing some of the valuable research
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 Research paper
Distribution pattern and habitat preference of barking deer
(Muntiacus muntjac Zimmermann) in Nagarjun forest, Kathmandu
Ajaya Nagarkotf and Tej Bahadur Thapa
Central Department of Zoology, Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, NEPAL
*For correspondence, email:
The distribution pattern and habitat preference of barking deer (Muntiacus muntjac Zimmermann) were
analyzed during spring and rainy seasons of 2005 in Nagarjun Forest, Kathmandu. A total of 14 observations
(seven males and seven females), 247 pellets and 118 footprints of barking deer were recorded in the spring
and 14 observations (nine males and five females), 151 pellets and 140 footprints were recorded during the
rainy season. The result showed uneven or clumped distribution patterns for deer in both spring (S2VX =
331.03 > 1; x2 = 331.02, p = 0.01) and rainy season (S2VX = 233.48 > 1; f = 233.48, p = 0.01). Among four types
of habitats (Schima wallichii forest, mixed broadleaved forest, pine forest and dry oak forest), the mixed
broadleaved forest was much preferred in spring (RPI = 0.81) and pine forest during the rainy season (RPI = 0.15).
Keywords: Barking deer, Muntiacus muntjac, distribution, habitat preference, Nagarjun forest, Nepal
The barking deer (Muntiacus muntjac Zimmermann,
Cervidae, Artiodactyla), also called muntjac, is a small,
solitary ruminant, living in dense tropical and subtropical
forests of Asia (Oli and Jacobson 1995, Shrestha 1997).
Muntiacus spp. have a broad geographic range and are found
in Indo-Malayan countries, China, Taiwan, Japan, Sri Lanka,
north India and Nepal (Prater 1980). In Nepal, distribution,
habitat use and preferences of the barking deer have been
analyzed by many researchers (e.g. Tamang 1982, Heggdal
1999, Kuikel2003, Thapa2003, Pokharel2005). Tamang (1982)
reported that barking deer prefer Sal (Shorea robusta) and
riverine forests, and are often seen on meadows in Chitwan.
In Bardia, the barking deer prefer riverine forest followed by
Sal forest with Mallotus as major associate (Heggdal 1999).
Kuikel (2003) also observed the animals in the mixed forest,
Sal forest and riverine forest. The distribution patterns ofthe
species in various habitats have been documented by Thapa
(2003) in Barandabhar Forest (Chitwan) and Pokhrel (2005) in
Royal Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve. They found that barking
deer have a clumped distribution and show no significant
difference in preference among the forested habitats.
Most studies on barking deer have focused on the
lowlands of Nepal. Thus the information on barking deer
distribution and habitat preference is inadequate for the
mid-hills, which have experienced a higher rate of habitat
loss and degradation. The present study has assessed the
distribution, habitat use and diets of the barking deer in
Nagarjun Forest. It is hoped that our findings will be useful
for the management of barking deer in Nagarjun Forest as
well as other parts of Nepal's middle hills.
Materials and methods
Study area Nagarjun forest (27°43'37.13" to 27°46'22.84" N;
85°13'52.97" to 85°18'14.38" E; 1220 to 2188 masl) lies on the
northernmost border of Kathmandu Valley (Figure 1) and
occupies an area of 16.45 km2. The study area is underlain
largely by quartzite but also consists of limestone, siliceous
limestone and calcisilicate rocks to some extent (Hagen
1959). Soil composition varies with forest type, ranging from
dry hard, light brown to black soil with low to high humus
content (Kanai et al. 1970). Mean monthly temperature in
the study year ranged from 3.05 to 30.53°C, relative humidity
54.7 to 94.2%, rainfall 5.15 to 548.73 mm. July, August
and September are the most humid months, with highest
precipitation in July and August. Forests in Nagarjun can
be categorized into four types: Schima wallichii forest, pine
forest, mixed broadleaved forest (Phoebe lanceolata, Machilus
duthiei, Michelia kisopa as major species) and dry oak forest
(Kanai and Shakya 1970). There are few small patches of
grassy meadow (Nagarkoti 2006). The fauna includes bats,
Presbytis entellus (common langur), Melursus ursinus (sloth
bear), Maries flavigula (Himalayan yellow throated marten),
Hieraaetus fasciatus (bonelli's eagle), Urocissa flavirostris
(yellow-billed blue magpie), Urocissa erythrorhyncha (red-
billed blue magpie) etc. (Malla 2000; Shrestha 2001).
Methods For ease of study, the entire forest was divided
into four blocks, each 4.11 km2 (Figure 1). Habitat types were
classified and mapped using a geographic information system
(GIS). Line transects of 0.5-1.5 kmlengthwere laid out at 100
m intervals corresponding to the topographic contour lines
Himalayan lournal ofSciences 4(6): 70-74, 2007
Available online
Copyright©2007 by Himalayan Association for the
Advancement of Science
 Research paper
■ Fot04t
[ZD Grassland
PMac* an*
R«cky ar«
— Kilkcjxway
— Hlyhway
Gijvtl lOJd
Soc. gravel road
.... n-|
■■■ Wall
Site jiii
•   J<iinachoT#iTtpU
Banglamukhl temple
Tun sect No. 1
— Tf atuoct No. 2
— Transact No. 3
— Transect No. 4
Transact No. 3
— Trant+ttNo. *
— TtalKott NO. 7
— Trantoti No. *
Tram*ct No. *
Transact No. Iv
Figure 1. Study area
with sampling plots
and transects
85 16'00.00'E
85 18'0O.00"E
of maps. Plots A, B, C and D contained 10, 7, 5 and 3 transects
respectively, as constrained by the topography. Data
collection entailed a total of 144 hours of work over a period
of sixteen days in each season (April-May and July-August).
We recorded sightings of animals and other evidence such
as footprints and pellets within five meters of the transect
lines. At each sighting, we recorded the GPS coordinates,
altitude and habitat type. We used observational data such
as number of individuals, footprints and pellets recorded
in each habitat type to determine the distribution pattern
and habitat preference following the methods described by
Tayson (1999).
We used a x2 test to arrive at the distribution pattern and
a relative preference index (RPI), one-way analysis of variance
(ANOVA) to test differences in habitat use, and a t-test to
quantify the difference between habitat use in the spring and
rainy season. The deer's distribution pattern was calculated
by variance-to-mean ratio (Odum 1971). A chi-square
goodness-of-fit test was carried out to determine whether
barking deer were distributed according to the availability of
habitat types. According to Stinnett and Klebenow (1986),
We used area estimates of vegetation types obtained
from topographic maps in order to calculate percentage
availability of habitats.
Forest cover Among the four types of forests recognized
in Nagarjun hill, the Schima wallichii, forest constituted
nearly 2/3rd of the total forest cover. In present study, we
updated information on the boundaries of the various forest
types; GIS analysis showed that coverage of Schima wallichii
forest, mixed broadleaved forest, pine forest and dry oak
forest in Nagarjun hill was 61.29%, 27.91%, 9.08% and 1.72%,
Distribution During the spring we recorded 14 individuals
(7 bucks and 7 does), 247 pellet groups and 118 footprints
of barking deer; during the rainy season we observed 14
individuals (9 males and 5 females), 151 pellet groups and 140
footprints. In the spring of 2005, we found evidence of deer
presence most frequently in mixed broadleaved forest (three
males, two females, 121 pellets and 65 footprints); no such
evidence was recorded in the dry oak forest. On the other
hand, during the 2005 rainy season, the highest incidence
of evidence was observed in Schima wallichii forest (nine
males, five females, 151 pellets and 140 footprints) whereas
only one footprint was recorded in dry oak forest. In the
Nagarjun forest, barking deer were encountered in almost
all areas. However, we found a clumped distribution pattern
both during spring (S2VX= 331.03 > 1) (f = 331.03, p = 0.01)
(Figure 2) and rainy seasons (S2VX = 233.48 > 1; and x2 =
233.48, p = 0.01) (Figure 3).
Habitat use and preference The mixed broad leaved forest was
much preferred (RPI = 0.81) in spring season while Schima
wallichii forest (RPI = -0.25) and pine forest (RPI = -0.62)
were not preferred during this season. Dry oak forest was
completely avoided (RPI = -1) during spring season. During
rainy season the deer preferred pine forest (RPI = 0.15) and
mixed broad leaved forest (RPI = 0.14) while Schima wallichii
forest (RPI = -0.06) and dry Oak forest (RPI = -0.81) were not
preferred (Figure 4). However, no significant difference was
 Research paper
1 Dry oak forest
_J Mixed broadleaved f
_   ~J Pine forest
-  | Schima wallichii forest
ft-t+H Helipad
y\ Palace area
J Rocky >m
[ Grassland
Gravel road
^^™ Highway
Sec. gravel road
$   2 Males
©  Female
_   2 Females
Figure 2. Distribution of barking deer in Nagarjun forest for spring season (2005)
found in using different habitat types by the deer (p>0.05).
Similarly, the t-test also showed no significant difference in
habitat use between spring and rainy seasons (p>0.05).
The distribution of barking deer in the Nagarjun forest
showed a clumped pattern which is presumably explained
by the fact that in natural habitats such resources as food,
water, and cover are not distributed uniformly. Barking
deer exhibit seasonal differences in habitat preferences. The
feeding habits of barking deer correspond to those of small
African forest ruminants that Hofmann and Stewart (1972)
characterize as 'selectors of juicy concentrated herbage'.
Such food is relatively abundant in shrub habitats (Song and
Li 1994). Dense canopy cover is another important factor in
barking deer habitat selection (Teng et al. 2004). Preference
for a high percent of canopy cover could be an anti-predatory
strategy: in a forest or woodland, dense cover can minimize
visual detection (Geist 1974). In the Royal Bardia National
Park, Heggdal (1999) found that barking deer favored riverine
forest for foraging and night-time habitat.
In the Nagarjun forest, coverage of shrub and surface
layers was relatively dense in mixed broadleaved forest, as
compared to that of other forest types (Kanai and Shakya
1970), causing concentration of deer in this habitat. Because
barking deer usually drink water at least once a day, most
often in the morning or midday, they like to remain close
to a water source (Rafinesque 1968, Yonzon 1978). In the
Nagarjun forest water sources are mainly available in the
mixed broadleaved forest. Thus, the preference of barking
deer for mixed-broad leaved forest in spring season is most
1  -
■ Spring
0.5 ■
0 ■
-0.5 -
swf          r
-1  -
-1.5 -
Figure 4. Relative preference indices (RPI) for habitat types
during spring and rainy season, 2005. (SWF= Schima wallichii
forest, MBLF=mixed broadleaved forest, PF=Pine forest, and
DOF=dry oak forest)
 Research paper
U:    I Dry oak forest   Klngsway
LSI M"* broadleaved forest SM' 9",V'" 'Md
f==!.    Trail
I | Pine forest -m-m- mM
Z3 Schima wallichii forest        Stream
Eg Helipad
Y/A Palace area g     Male and Fe     ;
~J Rocky area Pellet
□ a>   Footprint
= Gravel road
^^™ Highway
0 0.25 0.5 1 Kilometers
1 i   I   I   I   I   I   I   I
Figure 3. Distribution of barking deer in Nagarjun forest for rainy season (2005)
likely due to the availability of food, shelter and water sources.
The slightly higher preference for pine forest as opposed to
mixed-broadleaved forest (RPI = 0.14) during the spring may
be explained by an inclination to avoid wet and muddy areas
during the rainy season as mixed-broad leaved forest is wet
and muddy at that time of the year. Wet and muddy areas
are uncomfortable, dangerous and difficult to negotiate, and
suboptimal sites for foraging and resting. The pine forest is
relatively preferable and also drier in the rainy season than
other habitat types in study area. In Royal Chitwan National
Park the movement of barking deer in dry places increased
during the monsoon season but remained less frequent than
that of Chitals (Yonzon 1978). The presence of a substantial
shrub layer (mostly fruit yielding Berberis asiatica) and
surface layer (containing most preferred food Imperata
cylindrica and Pogonatherum paniceum) significantly
contribute to the habitat value of pine forest.
In conclusion, barking deer are unevenly distributed
in Nagarjun forest. A clumped distribution pattern is found
in both spring and rainy seasons. Although the deer is a
generalist in habitat use, most individuals apparently prefer
mixed broadleaved forest (in the spring) and pine forest
(during the rain season) over other forest types.
We thank KK Shrestha and VAdhikari (Central Department of Botany,
Tribhuvan University) for helping in plant identification.
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 Himalayan Journal of Sciences salutes
The International Centre for Integrated
Mountain Development (ICIMOD)
for a quarter century of
research and leadership in mountain affairs


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