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Dendroecological studies of Rhododendron campanulatum D. Don along the elevational gradient of Manaslu conservation area, Nepal Himalaya

Prabinarana, Dinesh R. Bhuju, Madan Koirala and Chuenchit Boonchird

The increase in temperature due to global warming is affecting forest ecosystems worldwide. At the treeline ecotone growth is usually restricted by low temperatures. Recently, the impacts of climate change have been visible with the upward shift of the Himalaya fir (Abies spectabilis) in Nepal. Rhododendron campanulatum D. Don grows at the treeline ecotone and subalpine forest. Hardly any studies have been carried on this species in Nepal. The local people have reported that this species has been seen colonizing upper altitude in recent years, however, these needs to be verified with dendroecological studies. The study aims to assess the response of R. campanulatum to climatic variability and to evaluate the relationship of its basal diameter (Groundline) and age using dendroecological methods. Results reveal that the basal diameter was found to be significantly correlated with age (r2= 0.824, p<0.00001). Using the basal diameter age equations, attempts were made to study the age distribution along the altitudinal gradient. The species limit was observed at 4090 m asl. The age structure differed along the altitudinal gradient with multi age cohorts below the treeline and younger cohorts above the treeline. Results show that this species is migrating up at a rate of 24.7m per decade.

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