Meghalayan Forests – Similar to Equatorial Rainforests

In News

New research has shown that the Meghalaya rainforests are similar in structure and diversity to that of the rainforests found in the equatorial regions.

In-Detail

  • Meghalaya consists of lowland tropical rainforests.
  • These forests are the northernmost rainforests of the world. They are found north of the Tropic of Cancer.
  • The new study discovers that the rainforests near the equator and the Meghalayan rainforests have similar structure and diversity.
  • In general, rainforests are found in a region around the Equator between 5 degrees north and south latitudes.
  • The region is the home to the lowland tropical rainforest.
  • Meghalaya and Namdapha of Arunachal Pradesh, the northeastern states of India, are found to have the extreme spread of rainforests in the northern limits of the world.
  • Both these states receive heavy rainfall and are humid, a perfect setting for the growth of rainforests. They are species-rich rainforests.

Distribution

  • Two hectares of forests were surveyed for the research.
  • Over 2500 trees, shrubs and herbs were studied.
  • As per the research, 180 different taxa were identified of the total number of plants.
  • 95% of the forests are made up of tropical Asian species.
  • The Meghalayan rainforests have fewer species compared to equatorial rainforests, but beta diversity was high.
  • These forests have a higher proportion of rare plants compared to equatorial forests.
  • Plants members from the families of Fagaceae and Theaceae have a good representation in Meghalayan rainforests.

Short Stature

  • Though the structure of the Meghalayan rainforests is similar to equatorial ones, the trees here are shorter in height.
  • While in equatorial forests one can find trees that grow 45m to 60m in height, in Meghalaya, the highest a tree can grow is up to 30m.
  • This is a part of their evolution to survive at higher latitudes.
  • The tree density in Meghalayan forests stood at 467 trees per hectare. This is lower than the equatorial region but falls in the same range to that of rainforests around Tropic of Cancer.

And the richness of the species diversity is highest among the rainforests near the Tropic of Cancer.

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