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International Journal of Forestry Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 576502, 10 pages
Research Article

Rainfall and Elevation Influence the Local-Scale Distribution of Tree Community in the Southern Region of Western Ghats Biodiversity Hotspot (India)

1Forestry and Ecology Division, National Remote Sensing Centre, Indian Space Research Organization, Hyderabad 500 625, India
2Conservation Research Group (CRG), St. Albert’s College, Kochi 682 018, India
3Forests and Environment Program, Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), Bogor 16115, Indonesia
4Advanced Centre of Environmental Studies and Sustainable Development, School of Environmental Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala 686 560, India

Received 18 October 2011; Revised 22 February 2012; Accepted 23 February 2012

Academic Editor: Guofan Shao

Copyright © 2012 Shijo Joseph et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The present study characterises the tree communities with respect to topographic and climatic variables and identifies the most important environmental correlate of species richness in the southern region of Western Ghats Biodiversity Hotspot, India. Digitally derived environmental variables in combination with tree species richness information were analysed using Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) to characterise the communities. Multiple regression technique based on stepwise backward elimination was used to identify the most important environment correlate of species richness. Canonical correspondence analysis results in six major tree communities along the first and second axes. Rainfall is the dominant environmental gradient influencing vegetation patterns on the first CCA axis while elevation showed the highest correlation with the second CCA axis. Backward elimination regression technique yielded rainfall as the most important environmental correlate of species richness. Results were in agreement with the observations in the Neotropics that rainier areas maintain high species diversity.