Abundance and occurrence of Danae racemosa growing in Hyrcanian forest understory in relation to static and dynamic environmental variables
Keywords:Ecological factors, priority for conservation, habitat management
Danae racemosa L., an endangered species, is an erect, evergreen shrub which grows in shaded forest understory in Hyrcanian forests of Iran. Except for limited knowledge of sporadic occurrence of D. racemosa in unique moist locations, there is not much information about its ecological preferences and environmental requirements. This study investigated the relationship of D. racemosa presence (abundance) and occurrence with static (soil properties and elevation from sea level) and dynamic (climate, precipitation and human disturbance) variables. Plant and soil samples from 21 locations of occurrence (sites) of D. racemosa were collected along the Caspian Sea southern coastline. At each site of occurrence (site), three 100 m2 (10×10 m) plot was set up, and plant biometry and density recorded. Soil samples were taken from depths of 0-25 cm and let to air dry in the lab. Later, dried soil samples were crushed to pass through a 2 mm mesh sieve and analyzed for different physico-chemical properties. Meteorological data over the past 10 years (2009-2019) in the relevant area were obtained from Iran Meteorological Organization. Cluster analysis classified 21 sampling sites into four groups of habitats. Data were analyzed using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) methods and habitats are classified based on environmental factors. Correlation analysis between environmental factors and density showed that soil texture (clay content), precipitation and human activity are the most important factors affecting abundance of D.racemosa. Findings of this investigation are useful in developing D. racemosa habitat protection, restoration and management guidelines as well as necessitates urgency of awareness raising.
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