Endemism and rarity in Tropical Montane Forests

Sholas come under the broad class of Tropical Montane Forests. Tropical Montane Forests are found in Central and South America, Africa and Asia.

The sholas that are found in South India above 1700 metres are often referred to as tropical upper montane rain forest and montane temperate forests.

Endemism and rarity are common among shola species as they cannot migrate and survive in different altitudinal and climatic conditions.  The trees and smaller plants of the ecosystem colonise the depressions in expansive mountain ranges covered with high altitude grasses. These grasslands themselves harbour several rare and endemic species.
Distribution of  Tropical Montane Forests
The Americas
Africa
Asia
Eucador
Mexico
Venezuela
Columbia
Cuba
Jamaica
British Guyana
Costa Rica
Cameroon
Uganda
Madagascar
Vernonia monosis
India
Sri Lanka
Laos
Borneo
New Guinea
Malaysia
Thailand
Vietnam
The biodiversity of shola grasslands holds great potential for use in biotechnology and related areas. The economic and ecological importance of these forests is tremendous.  This calls for increased efforts for conservation.
Rare and Endangered shola species
IbexCoelogyne mossiae
Cotoneaster buxifolia
Crotalaria kodaiensis
Crotalaria prietleyoides
Eleocarpus blascoi
Pimpinella pulneyensis
Sonerilla pulneyensis
Vernonia pulneyensis
Youngia nilgiriensis
The sholas, which cover only a small percentage of total forest area in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, are shrinking. This needed to be stemmed. Kerala has declared some patches of sholas in Idukki district as national parks in 2003. However, contiguity of these areas with other protected areas has not been ensured.

Scientists M. P. Nayar and A. R. K. Sastry (Red Data Book of Indian Plants) and K. M. Mathew and K. T. Mathew of the Rapinat Herbarium, Thiruchirapalli, have identified more than 75 shola species which are under threat in the Palani hills alone. There is need for protection of the remaining shola forests to conserve the biodiversity.             (More on flora)


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