Authors: MUHAMMAD IRSHAD, NASRULLAH KHAN, KISHWAR ALI, ZAHID MUHAMMAD
Abstract: Punica granatum L. (Wild) is an important fruit-yielding species of the world and a source of income for people, particularly in the Hindukush-Himalayas of Pakistan. Considering its ecological and commercial importance, an attempt was made to provide a primary assessment of its compositional pattern with relation to environmental variables for ecologically unexplored Punica granatum forests located in a subtropical dry temperate zone using multivariate techniques. The vegetation data were collected from 40 Punica granatum forest stands along with the associated environmental data (12 variables) at different locations. Classification of the stands was carried out using Ward?s agglomerative cluster analysis. In total, 20 tree species belonging to 13 families of 19 genera with 78 understories were surveyed. Finally, nonmetric multidimensional scaling ordination with associated Monte Carlo permutation tests was performed to explore the patterns of variation in vegetation distribution explained by the environmental variables. Four community types were identified in different altitudinal and microclimatic thickets that significantly varied in species composition. The soil physical properties, i.e. sand and clay, forming an amalgam with chemical properties, i.e. N+1 and K+1 concentrations, were the most influential variables responsible for distribution of Punica granatum and associated species and compositional variation in the subtropical dry temperate areas of Pakistan. The present study will help in the understanding of conservation and management of this ecologically and commercially important species and will provide baseline information for other forests species growing in the area.
Keywords: Punica granatum, natural forests, fruit-yielding, commercial importance, classification and ordination, species conservation and management
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