Open Journal of Forestry
2011. Vol.1, No.2, 11-26
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. DOI: 10.4236/ojf.20 11.12003
Community Structure, Diversity, Biomass and Net Production
in a Rehabilitated Subtropical Forest in North India
Bajrang Singh1, Karunakar Prasad Tripathi2, Kripal Singh1
1National Botanical Research Institute, Council of Scient ific and Ind ustrial Resea rch,
Rana Pratap Marg, Lucknow, India;
2Dolphin (PG) Institute of Biomedical a nd Natural Sciences , Manduwala, Dehradun, India.
Email: {bsingh471, tripa thikp2001},
Received Augus t 20th, 2011; revised October 19th, 2011; ac cepted October 28th, 2011.
Gangetic alluvial plain in north India constitutes significant proportions of barren sodic lands. A representative
site, where afforestation was carried out during 1960s to rehabilitate the site under forest ecosystem, was se-
lected t o as ses s th e r est ora t i on su cc ess . Th ree st an d s (S 1, S2, an d S 3) wer e sel ec t ed in a semi -natural subtropical
forest at Banthra, Lucknow (26˚45'N, 80˚53'E) on the basis of different vegetation morphology and basal area
gradient. Species composition and their growth forms were studied in overstory, understory and ground layer
vegetation, in which dominants were assorted. Among the dominants few species were common in the three
stands as also in different strata, which perhaps indicate their natural regeneration. Classification of individuals
among the different si ze c la ss es i nd ica t ed “L” shape distribution in which most of the individuals remained con-
fined in youn ger group s. Bi omass increas ed from the stan d S1 to S3 stand in overstory, a nd vi se versa for under-
story. St and S2 consi sted of pred ominan ce of groun d layer bi omass over t he oth er stands . Bioma ss allocation in
different plant components differed significantly between the overstory and understory for aerial woody com-
ponents (stem and branch). Annual litter fall did not differ significantly among the stands, where as fine root
biomass (up to 45 cm soil depth) decreased from S1 to S3 stands. Rainy and summer seasons contributed to
two-third proportion of total annual fine root production. The state of this rehabilitated forest when compared
with the degraded and reference forest of the region indicated that structural complexity, biomass and production
leve l s hav e been achieved to 70% of the reference fores t site even after having a different speci es compositio n .
Keywords: Diversity, Community Structure, Concentration of Dominance, Biomass, Production, Litter, Fine
Tropical forests are disappearing at an alarming rate of 13.5
million hectare per year globally Kobayashi (2004). In India
about 20% of the geographical area is under forest in which
tropical forests contribute nearly 83% of the forest area. Almost
half of t he forest area is classified as degraded forest with poor
population density and species abundance. Deforestation and
forest degradation are widely recognized as major threats to
environmental stability, economic prosperity and social welfare
and also to perform the statutory function of biodiversity con-
servation and ecos ystem servi ces. Often th e forest management
considers primarily commercially important monoculture spe-
cies and rehabilitation of site for ecosystem/landscape man-
agement/species conservation or societal services assumes sec-
ondary importance. When the degraded and desolated lands do
not turn out an economic yield, many sites are abandoned
where natural succession proceeds and over a period of time
several b io ti c communit ies co lo nize th ere an d p erform a vari et y
of ecosystem function (Jha & Singh, 1991). The widespread
degradation of alluvial soil in the Indo-Gangetic plain s affected
by varying degree of sodicity or salinity has received priority
attention for afforestation during past few decades. It has been
emphasized in the Indian forest policy to enhance the forest
cover, biodiversity conservation and to provide the multiple
goods and services to the ever-increasing human population of
the country. Forest area is shrinking day by day and new forests
are not being developed proportionally. It is estimated that
about 53% of the total geographical area of the country is sub-
jected to erosion and land degradation problems. Intensive af-
forestation efforts are required to rehabilitate such sites under
productive forest ecosystems. Both exotic and native species
may be planted to rehabilitate degraded lands depending on site
conditions (Singh et al., 2002; Dat ta & Agar wal, 2003; Singh et
al., 2004; Singh & Singh, 2004; Shukla et al., 2011).
Natural succession remains arrested on sodic land s, and does
not proceed automatically without some anthropogenic inter-
ventions. As a consequence, these sites do not have any sig-
nificant vegetation growing on them except sporadic patches of
some salt tolerant grasses. Creation of new forest on barren
sodic land is therefore a critical task due to several soil con-
straints restricting the growth and development of plants.
Mainly, an exotic Prosopis juliflora has been planted success-
fully (Bhojwaid & Timmer, 1998) which showed a fairly good
adaptability to generate fuel wood quickly, but the drawback
with this invasive alien species (exotic) is that Prosopis julifora
does not accommodate the native species in their niche and
overrides on the native species diversity. There is strong evi-
dence that plantations can facilitate forest succession in their
understories through modification of both physical and bio-
logical site conditions. Changes in light, temperature and mois-
ture at the soil surface enable germination and growth of seeds
transported to the site by wildlife and other vectors from adja-
cent forest remnant s. I t h as been ob served t hat at th e stand level
mixed speci es performed well for volu me, basal area, biomass,
and carbon sequestrations in comparison to pure monoculture
stands (Piotto et al., 2003ab; Ali ce et al., 2004; Petit & Montaz-
inimi, 2004, 2006). Economically viable and adoptable tech-
nology for afforestation of sodic land has been under experi-
mentati on for a lo ng time (Shar ma et al., 1992). Sandhu & Ab-
rol (1981) studied the method of site preparation using augur
hol es and effect of establi s hment on Eucalyptus tereticornis and
Acacia nilotica on sodic soil sites. Later on, these plantations
suffered with the girdling, stress growth, and poor yield. Sodic
soils contain exchangeable sodium in excess quantity which
interferes with the growth of most crop plants and trees. The pH
of such soils usually ranges from 8.5 to 10, which disturbs the
ionic equilibrium of soil solution limiting to the growth of
plants (Kelley, 1951). Such soils are generally poor in organic
matter and nitrogen contents (Abrol & Bhumbla, 1971; Agraw-
al & Gupta, 1968; Khanduja et al., 1986; Pandey et al., 2011)
and therefore its enhancement is vital for better growth and
productivity (Shukla & Misra, 1993; Singh, 1996, 1998). Addi-
tionally the encrustation of calcium carbonate gravels and iron
granules into a hard cemented bed in sub soil impedes not only
root developments but water permeability too. Such characte-
ristic properties resulting in root deformations, growth reduc-
tions and ultimately significantly lower yields do not support
and pro- mote the extension of production forestry on sodic
lands in commensuration with their inputs (Gupta & Abrol,
1990). However, (Abrol & Joshi, 1986) reported the economic
viability of utilizing highly alkaline soil for the plantations of
Acacia nilotica, Eucalyptus tereticornis but it could not gather
enough momentum due to high initial investments and a large
gestation period.
Afforestation with salt tolerant species was initiated from
1980 onwards (Sissay, 1986; Totey et al., 1987; Sharma, 1988).
The afforestation trials those have been succeeded led to the
identification and selection of tolerant species in situ on the
basis of their growth performance (Khan & Yadav, 1962; Pan-
dey, 1 96 6; Sr iva sta va, 1970 ; Yadav & Si n gh, 1970; Ahuja et al.,
1979; Yadav 1980; Khoshoo 1987). Tolerance limit of several
species was evaluated for sodic soils in pot culture experi-
ments (Singh et al., 1994). Performance of trees at varying
sodicity levels was also observed (Ashwathappa et al., 1986).
Since t he characteristi cs of salt affected soils vary greatly from
place to place ranging from low to high ESP (exchangeable
sodium percent) tolerant species were assorted accordingly
(Yadav & Singh, 1970; Toth, 1981). Tolerance of Dalbergia
sissoo in varying sodicity conditions was studied at different
sites (Singh et al., 1990). Tree species ar e supp osed to be more
tolerant to adverse soil conditions, particularly Prosopis and
Acacias (Garg & Jain, 1992). Prosopis juliflora can survive
well on the calcarious soils which h ave on the average a maxi-
mum pH value of 9.5. Acacia nilotica was also found to be
more resistant to soil salinity and sodicity (Yadav & Sin gh,
1970; Garg & Khanduja, 1979; Tomar & Yadav, 1980; Singh et
al., 1986). Abrol (1986) suggested that, apart from identifying
appropriate species and cultural practices, there is a need to
evaluate the social and economic consequences of planting on
saline land with fuel and forage species. A standardized silvi-
cultural technology for afforestation on sodic lands was devel-
oped thereafter (Chaturvedi, 1985; Prasad & Sharma, 1990).
Earlier studies have been limited to the growth observations
in height and diameter of the plants. Though some account is
available for biomass and productivity of few trees grown on
sodic soils (Chaturvedi, 1 985; Dogra , 1989; Singh, 19 91, 1998 ;
Chaturvedi et al., 1991, Chaturvedi & Behl, 1996; Jain and
Singh, 1998) that too pertains to juvenile stage of plant growth
with a very little applicability to understand the community
development process on a degraded land. Many previous trials
failed to rehabilitate the sodic bare lands under tree cover due
to lack of proven technology, proper financial support and
dedi cation (Yad av, 1975, 1980; Abrol, 19 86). A man-made for-
est developed on sodic land at Banthra Research Station of the
National Botanical Research Institute, Lucknow, India is the
oldest successful endeavor of afforestation with multiple spe-
cies. Very little information is available to our understanding in
restoration of sodic land under forest ecosystem. Srivastava
(1987) described the occurrence of species in this forest in
which some were introduced, while others invaded naturally
and colonized by the induced succession. Verma et al. (1982)
reported that a mixed canopy cover was more effective in the
reduction of pH than that of individual species. This is a good
indication to diversify the monocultures with various indige-
nous species which also aid to counter the effects of epidemic
and al lelopathy. A gener alized impact of soil reclamation in this
forest was assessed by (Singh, 1996, 1998).
The tolerant tree and shrub species made the soil hospitable
for less tolerant species. Thus a portion of land that was once
totally barren and desolate is now recognized as a functional
forest ecosystem with a top story of trees, middle story of small
trees and shrubs; and a ground layer of herbs and seedlings of
the perennials. Structure and composition of overstory trees
determine the understorey vegetation diversity and their com-
plexity (Barbier et al., 2008). Basic changes in demography,
tree size and growth comprise classic descriptors of stand de-
velopment (Brinkley, 2004). Efforts were made to observe the
relationships between vegetation productivity and species di-
versity (Sculze & Mooney, 1993; Huston, 1997; Chapin et al.,
2000; Loreau et al., 2003; Liang et al., 2007). Such forest in-
ventories are useful to rehabilitate the other barren sites in an
efficient way as well as to ensure a desired composition and
structure of the developing forest which could be self sustaina-
ble even after rational extraction or mild disturbances from
environmental perturbations.
This study was carried out in a 40-yr-old rehabilitated forest
on sodic land to identify the development of community struc-
ture and productivity levels, their diversity, dominance and
compatibility with natural forest of the region. An attempt was
made to characterize the various species performance and their
interrelations in the constitution and development of new “bio-
Methods and Materials
The forest was established on abandoned sodic soil during
the 1960s at Banthra, Lucknow, situated in a subtropical, se-
miarid region of north India (26˚45'N, 80˚53'E). Geographically,
this region is classified as Gangetic alluvial plains of the Uttar
Pradesh state due to transported deposition of minerals from the
Himalayan rocks by the Ganga River. A large tract of this re-
gion consists of cultivated land interspersed with barren sodic
land measured about 1.3 million hectares (Figure 1). The pre-
historic natural forests in this region were sparse and most of
them were r eplaced by Sal (Shorea robusta Gaertn. f.) an d Teak
(Tectona grandis L. f.) forests in the middle of the nineteenth
century. A few patches of those forests are still available in
Katarni aghat Wild life Sanctu ary, in Behrai ch (lat 27˚55'N, lon g
81˚25'E) district of U.P. The natural dry tropical forests of Va-
ranasi (lat 24˚55'N, long 83˚3'E) and Mirzapur (lat 24˚55'N,
lon g 82˚32'E) were compared as degraded forest sites. Average
annual rainfall at Lucknow ranged from 840 to 980 mm during
the past 10 years, which is slightly less than that at the
Figur e 1.
Distribution of plant population in different size classes in three vegetation layers in three stands of 40 yr old man-made forest. Overstory classes
Girth (cm): 1 =20 - 40, 2 = 40 - 60, 3 = 60 - 80, 4 = 80 - 100, 5 = 100 - 120, 6 = 120 - 140, 7 = 140 - 160, 8 = 160 - 180, 9 = 180 - 2 00, 10 200.
Understory classes Diameter (cm): 1 = 0 - 1, 2 = 1 - 2 , 3 = 2 - 3, 4 = 3 - 4, 5 = 4 - 5, 6 = 5 - 6 , 7 = 6 - 7, 8 = 7 - 8 , 9 = 8 - 9, 10 = 9 - 10, 11 10.
Ground layer classes Height (cm): 1 = 0 - 10, 2 = 10 - 20, 3 = 20 - 30, 4 = 30 - 40, 5 = 40 - 50, 6 = 50 - 60, 7 = 60 - 70, 8 = 70 - 80, 9 = 80 - 100, 10 =
100 - 110, 11 110.
reference si te (1057 mm/year). More than 80% of the precipita-
tion occurs in the monsoon season (July-September), and the
remainder of the year is dry. Average minimum and maximum
temperature differ significantly from winter (8˚C, night; 20˚C,
day) to summer (27˚C, night; 40˚C, day), indicating a seaso-
nally distinct climate. Average relative humidity was 63% dur-
ing the last 10 years.
The site soil is an Inseptisol (Typic Natrustalf) with silty clay
loam texture. A compact layer of indurated pan comprising
CaCO3 gravels and iron granules exists between 0.4 m and 0.8
m depths in these sodic soils. Structural degradation of the
heavy (high bulk density) and impervious soil leads to crusting
in winters and waterlogging condition during rainy seasons.
During summer, efflorescence of NaCO3 salt occurs as a pow-
dery layer on the soil surface. Consequently, suspended parti-
culate matter is quite high in the atmosphere during the day.
The soil was characterized by a high pH (>10) and exchangea-
ble sodium percentage (ESP) (>50) and low electrical conduc-
tivity (EC) (<1.0 dS/m) and organic carbon content (<0.2 %)
prior to planting (Garg , 1987). Carbonate and bicarbon ate of Na
and Ca were the dominant ions. When the content of soluble
salts (EC ) is lo w and exchangeab le Na h igh , the physical co nd i-
tion of the soil is usually unfavorable for the tillage as well as
establishment and growth of desired plants. As a consequence,
only a few grasses, viz Sporobolus and Desmostachia, are
found sporadically under natural conditions. Attempts were
made to rehabilitate such barren land through afforestations as
well as other land use systems over an area of about 50 ha ac-
quired during the 1960s. The entire area was demarcated with
barbed wire fencing and designated as Banthra Research Sta-
tion (BRS). Some of the native tree species commonly occur-
ring in tropical forests of north India (Acacia nilotica, Albizia
lebb eck, Albizia procera, Bauhinia variegata, Ficus bengalen-
sis, F. rumphii, Syzygium heyneanum, Syzygium cumini, Ter-
minalia arjuna, Derris indica) were planted in plantation pits of
1 m3 that had been filled with a mixture of soil, compost ma-
nure, and decomposed leaf litter in 2:1:1 proportion on a 5-ha
site. They were also planted along the marked boundary of the
BRS. The initial population density was around 1,000 trees/ha.
A drainage channel 1.5 m deep and 2 m wide was developed
around the plantation site to prevent water logging, which was
intensively observed during the rainy season for a proper drai-
nage of sta gnating water. Mortality during the initial years was
greater th an 50 %, and trees were rep lanted in consecuti ve years.
Several species invaded and colonized this area over time
thr ough natural succession process due to changes in microre-
lief. Seed dispersal and natural regeneration of trees and many
other species gradually extended to cover about 17 ha of total
forest area in the 2010.
Vegetation Analysis
Three stands were selected in this forest according to gross
morphology and a basal area gradient within the original 5-ha
revegetated area. Sample plots, each 1 ha, were marked in all
three st and s deno ted as S 1, S2 , and S 3. Vegetat io n an alysis was
carried out on belt transects (10 m wide). The method and qua-
drat size were standardized using a speciesarea- curve rela-
tionship. Thirty-four quadrats of 10 × 10 m along three tran-
sects spaced 10 m apart were laid out contiguously in each
stand. Plants were enumerated and measured for growth para-
meters. Ninety-five percent of the species were identified
through the use of the National Botanical Research Institute's
herbarium records. Girth of trees (>20 cm·gbh) was measured
at 137 cm above the ground for overstory species, whereas
diameter of young trees and shrubs occupying less than 10 cm
dbh was measured 50 cm above the ground, using an electronic
vernier caliper. These were classified as understory species.
Height of small seedlings less than 50 cm and of herbaceous
species were measured and p laced in the ground layer co mmu-
nity. Species structure (frequency, density, abundance, basal
area/cover, importance value index (IVI), etc.) was determined
from the field data (Misra, 1968). The cross-sectional area of
the stem at measured levels is the basal area of all woody spe-
cies. Leaf area cover (basal cover) for the ground layer was
computed by specific leaf area ratio, which is defined as area
per unit weight of the leaf (Misra, 1968). Species having great er
than 10 IVI or >10% of the total basal area were considered
dominant species i n each stratum.
Species Diver s i ty Index
Species diversity index (H) for overstory, understory, and
ground layer vegetations were determined separately from the
Shannon Wiener’s information function (Shannon & Weaver,
() ( )
Hni Nlogni N= −
ORpilog pi
where: ni = importance value for each species, N = total of
importance values
pi = importance probability for each species = ni/N
Concentration of Dominance
Concentration of dominance (Cd) was measured by Simp-
son’s index which is also known as index of dominance
(Simpson’s 1949).
Index of dominance (Cd) = Σ (ni/N)2
where: ni = importance value for each species, N = total of
importance value
Equitabi lity or Evenness (e)
Equitability refers to the degree of relative dominance of
each species in that area. Following Pielou (1966), equitability
or eveness index was calculated as:
Equitability (e) = H/logs
Where: S = number of species and H = Shannon Wiener index
Productivity Assessment
All the stems were classified in 7 girth/diameter classes in
overstory and understory vegetations and 7 height classes in
ground layer. Overstory biomass was estimated by a common
regression equ ation alr eady develo ped fro m 13 tree sp ecies in a
MAB project at BHU, Varanasi, because the permission for
harvesting of green trees was not granted by the UP Forest
Department in view of the felling restrictions on the trees
planted under restoration programmes. Harvesting of sample
plants of the understory could be possible and therefore three
representatives from each size classes were sampled for stem,
branch, and leaf and root biomass. Species of ground layer were
sampled according to the height classes for stem, leaf and root
components. Regression equations were developed with the
help of data of sample plants for diameter (cm) on “x” axis and
oven dry weight (g) of the particular component on “y”. The
form of regression was:
ln Y = a + b ln x
A software programme “SYSTAT 9.0 SPSS” was used for
regressions. With the component biomass, total biomass of all
species p er unit ar ea was comput ed as per th eir respecti ve pop-
ulation density. The ground layer species biomass was com-
puted with their equation where “x” variable was heights of
plant in cm. Net productions were obtained as the differences i n
biomass during the two consecutive years (2007 to 2009. Bio-
mass of ground layer was assumed to net production in view of
their little contribution in total forest ecosystem productivity.
Litter fall was collected monthly in 1 m2 trays during the
year. Four trays were placed in each of the three stands. Com-
ponents of litter were separated out as leaf, twig, flower-fruits
and bark. Apart from, six quadrats of 1 m2 were laid on under-
neath each stand to sample forest floor litter layers as L, F and
H fractions.
Fine Root
Fine root biomass was extracted by wet sieving of ten soil
cores o f 100 cm3 in each stan d at two dep ths (0 cm - 15 cm and
15 cm - 30 cm) in five seasons. Similarly fine root production
was estimated by establishment of root free in-growth cores in
each season and extraction of root by wet sieving. These roots
were classified into three diameter classes (<0.5, 0.5 mm - 1
mm and 1 mm - 2 mm). The li ve and dead r oots wer e separated
on the basis of gross morphology and degree of cohesion be-
tween cortex and periderm according to Vogt and Persson (1991).
Both f rac ti ons w e re ov e n-dried at 80˚C to cons ta nt weight .
Community Structure and Dive rsity
There were only a few species which contributed more than
10% of the total basal area in each stand; therefore, dominants
were assorted including >10 IVI (Table 1 ). On the basis of IVI
and relative basal area, S1 stand constituted more dominant
species in comparison to other two stands. Among the domi-
nants few species were common in all the three stands such as
Syzygium cumini, Syzygium heyneanum, Streblus asper, Azadi-
rachta indica, Albizia lebbeck in overstory vegetations. In un-
derstory the common dominants among the stands were Lan-
tana camara, Streblus aspe r, Syzygium cumini. Besides, some of
th e species were found common in all th e three vegetation strata
viz. Leucaena leucocephala, Sterculia alata, Streblus asper,
Syzygium cumini, Syzygium heyneanum. But Clerodendrum
vescosum, Ichnocarpus frutescens, and Putranjiva roxburghii
remained confined to under stay & ground layer vegetation.
Species distribution pattern and their natural associations
provide the clues for rehabilitation of barren sodic land under
forest ecosystems. Basal area increased from S1 to S3 stand in
overstory, whereas in understory it was decreased in same order.
In ground layer, maximum basal cover was found in S2 stand.
In overstory vegetation of S1 stand, dominant species covered
44.2% of the total basal area which indicates that o ther species
have no less importance in organization of plant communities
occup ying rest of the 56% of the total basal area. In S2 stand
other species contributed relatively less with the proportions of
dominants contributing to 72% of the total basal area of overs-
tory vegetation. S3 stand had almost similar value to that of S1
stand. In S1 stand, Albizia lebbeck and Azadirachta indica had
30% of the total basal area. In S2 stand Albizia lebbeck, Syzy-
um heyneanum and Terminalia arjuna hold about 51% of the
total basal area. In S3 stand Albizia lebbeck, Albizia procera,
Ficus rumph ii consisted of about 45% of the total basal area. In
understory vegetation, Leucaena leucocephala had greatest IVI
in S1 stand. Dominant understory vegetation constituted 61%,
72% and 52% of the total understory basal area of the respec-
tive S 1, S2 and S3 s tands. In gr ound layer vegetatio n, S1 sta nd
had more dominant species in comparison to other stands with
greatest IVI in S2 stand. In S1 stand ground layer vegetation of
the dominants occupied 87% of the total basal cover. S2 and S3
stands had 89% and 95% basal cover of dominants.
Population s iz e of ov e rs tory a nd understory trees was largest in
S1 stand, whereas S2 stand consisted of the greatest number of
individuals of the ground layer (Table 2). However, population
size on the basis of number of individuals per unit area does not
contribute much in ecosystem function, as it does not give any
additional weight to the size of individuals. Basal area is a
composite function of the number and size of the individuals
Table 1.
Class ific a tion o f s pe c i e s as a perce nt of t he total s peci es r epres e nte d by thei r populati o ns from un it to thous a nd s in respec tive vegetation st rata.
Strata Unit Tens Hundreds Thousands Total
Overstory 37 38 23 2 100
Understory 36 36 23 5 100
Ground layer 25 37 25 13 100
Table 2.
Population size and plant diversity in a 45-yr old r e h a b il itat e d f orest co m mun ity de veloped on bar ren so dic la n d.
Parameter Form Stands Mean
S1 S2 S3
Population density (No. ha–1) Overstory 610 517 535 554 ± 28
Understory 5554 2871 2759 3728 ± 913
Ground layer
6813 ± 4558
Basal area (m2·ha–1) Overstory 25.8 30.5 33.6 29.9 ± 1.9
Understory 7.25 3.13 2.31 4.20 ± 1.2
Ground layer
111.6 ± 66.4
Spec ies ri c h ness ( n umber )
Overstory 35 27 28 30 ± 2
Understory 38 40 30 36 ± 1.6
Ground layer
15 ± 0.47
Equitability (e)
Understory 0.72 1.06 0.99 0.9 ± 0.08
Ground layer
0.7 ± 0.08
Shannon Wiener’s index (H)
Understory 2.65 3.80 3.35 3.3 ± 0.27
Ground layer
1.8 ± 0.19
Concentration of dominance
Understory 0.40 0.14 0.15 0.23 ± 0.07
Ground layer
0.40 ± 0.05
per unit area (1 ha) which shows the relative contribution of the
species in structure and function of the forest ecosystems. On
the basis of basal area, three stands contributed in different
proportions for each vegetation types. The predominance of
overstory basal area in S3 stand and understory in S1 stand and
a relatively large basal cover of ground layer vegetation in S2
stand differentiates these stands each other in the community
structure and its organization during developmental process.
However, t hese sites di fferen ces do not appear t o be significant
in species richness. It is because of the fact that various tree
species planted initially are now representing presently the
overstory. Whereas, understory and ground layer mainly consist
of the progeny of same species along with the few natural in-
Measurement of biodiversity in a specific area (local scale)
on the basis of richness does not provide a complete under-
standing about the individuals of the species as it suffers from
the lack of evenness or equitability (e). Richness index de-
creased from overstory to understory by 50% followed by the
ground layer. It ranged from maximum 2.47 (S1 stand) in over-
story, to minimum 0.43 (S2 stand) in ground layer vegetation.
Equitability (e) was greatest in S1, S2 and S3 stands, for over-
story, understory and ground layer vegetations respectively.
Both indices decreased from overstory to ground layer on av-
erage of stands. The species were more evenly distributed in
ground layer showing lowest in comparison to the overstory
vegetation, so it was decreased from overstory to ground layer
vegetation. Shannon Wiener’s index (H) is one of the most
popular measures of general species diversity in a forest. This
index decreased from overstory to ground layer in accordance
with the richness index. In this forest, Shannon Wiener’s diver-
sity index ranged from 3.99 (S1 stand) in overstory, to least
1.45 (S2 stand) in ground layer vegetation (Table 2). Although
S2 stand had greatest ground flora even then their diversity
index was lowest for the ground flora which indicates that the
ground flora consisted of only few abundant species such as
Barleria prionitis, Blepharis maderaspatensis and C leroden-
drum vescosum. Concentration of dominance (c) = Σ pi2 indi-
cates that the dominance was more concentrated with fewer
species in the ground layer in comparison to overstory vegeta-
tion where dominance was shared by multiple species. It
showed an opposite pattern with the diversity index among the
three vegetation types.
Entire plant population of the three vegetation strata were
classified over a range of size classes according to girth (over-
story), diameter (understory) and height for ground layer (Fig-
ure 2). In general, these stands appear to be still immature and
ecosystem has not yet reached equilibrium. Their configuration
and st ructure indicate a “L” shape positively skewed as ymmet-
rical distribution of plant populations with increasing size of
girth and diameter for both overstory and understory vegetation,
respectively. Population of the understory vegetation was near-
ly half in S2 and S3 stands in comparison to S1 stand, whereas
S2 stand predominated in ground layer vegetation. Population
of ground layer vegetatio n was almost evenl y distrib uted acro ss
the height class in S2 and S3 stands, whereas in S1 stand most
of the population was confined to first few groups only. It was
observed that the number of species decreased with increasing
plant size in each of the three vegetation forms. In overstory,
maximum number of species occurred in initial girth class (20
cm - 40 cm) in all th e thr ee stands. S imilarly in understory spe-
cies richness was greatest in initial diameter class. Such types
of species composition depicted that species diversity reduced
among older individuals with the growth and developments of
plants. The pattern of species area relations was almost similar
for each o f the three stands.
Figur e 2.
Biomass of three vegetation layers along with proportional contribution in different components in three stands of 40 year old man made forest.
Stand Biomass
Overstory biomass increased from 292.8 Mg·ha–1 (S1 stand)
to 386.2 Mg·ha–1 (S3 stand) corresponding to increase in 30%
basal area from S1 stand to S3 stand (Figure 3). The contribu-
tion of plant components in total biomass was 28% stem, 58%
branch es, 3% l eaf and 11%root. Typically branches cover more
biomass than boles in most of the tropical forests. The contri-
bution of root in this forest was relatively low in comparison to
an average root proportions of about 20% of total biomass
found in most of the natural forests. It may be due to the soil
compactness and presence of a calcic compact (calcium car-
bonate gravels) layer in subsoil. As a consequence roots do not
spread and proliferate freely. The understory biomass slightly
decreased from 4.5 Mg·ha–1, (S1 stand) to 3.12 Mg·ha–1 (S3
stand) corresponding to decrease in basal area (Figure 3). The
percent contribution of the total biomass in different compo-
nents of understory vegetation showed about 55% in stem, 18%
in branches, 8% in leaf, and 19% roots. Biomass distribution
pattern among the components in understory vegetation
changed to that of overstory vegetation. Besides, pattern of
stand biomass also reversed among stands showing a decrease
from S1 to S3 stand. Total biomass of ground layer vegetation
decreased fro m 82. 3 kg·ha–1 (S2 stand) to 8.4 kg·ha–1 (S1 stand)
corresponding to decrease in basal cover from 271.49 m2·ha–1
(S2 stand) to 5.39 m2·ha–1 (S1 stand). The percent contribution
of different components of ground layer vegetation in stem, leaf
and root was 44%, 26% and 30% respectively. The root/shoot
ratio increased considerably from overstory (0.12) to understory
(0.23) and ground layer (0.42) vegetations.
Net Production
Mean annual increment in biomass (MAI) of overstory ve-
getation had little difference within stands, but current annual
incremen t (CAI) and n et primary p roduction (NPP) were great-
est in S2 stand (Figure 3). Thus, a stand superior in total bio-
mass (S3) could not succeed as well in net production although
with minor reduction, which may be due to the fact that S3
stand would have been optimized maximum production during
45 yr. However, at the same time MAI, CAI and NPP of un-
derstory vegetation were in the order of S1 > S2 > S3 stand in
accordance with their biomass. Overstory production contrib-
uted to 95% of total forest production in a year. Understory and
ground layer contributed to 4% and 1% of the total forest pro-
duct io n, respectively.
Figur e 3.
Annual increment in dry matter of overstory and understory in three forest stands. MAI = mean annual increment, CAI = curren t annual incr ement,
NPP = net primary production.
Litter a nd Fine Root
Litter Fall
Litter fall is an important flux to transfer the organic matter
and nutrients from trees to the soil which maintains soil sustai-
nability in general and reclamation of sodic soils in this partic-
ular case. About 8 Mg·ha–1·yr–1 - 9 Mg·ha–1·yr–1 litter fall oc-
curred among the stands of the 40 yr-old forest under study
(Table 3). Maximum input of litter to the soil was recorded in
S2 stand and minimum in S3 stand although these were not
significantly different. In all stands, lit ter was separated in fou r
components in varying proportions. On stand mean basis leaf,
twig, flower-fruits and bark contributed to 68%, 20%, 9% and
3% of the total litter fall, respectively. Earlier, a relatively high
annual litter fall of 11.2 Mg·ha–1·yr–1 was reported in the same
forest (Singh, 1996). Thus annual litter fall decreased slightly
with further maturity of forest. Since the forest constituted both
deciduous and evergreen species, litter fall occurred throughout
the year with its maximum quantity in March due to more de-
ciduous species. Seasonal variation in litter fall indicated a
relatively high proportion in summer and spring seasons, each
about 25% of the annual flux. Generally the wind velocity in-
creases in these seasons which promote the abscission of ma-
ture and old leaves and dead twigs and branch es. Least amoun t
of litter fall was observed in autumn season (12% of annual).
Forest Floor Litter
Although litter fall and decomposition are instantaneous proc
esses but entire litter fall during one year does not decompose
completely during the next year and a substantial amount re-
mains to be decomposed in subsequent years. The residue ac-
cumulated on the forest floor was estimated as 6.3 Mg·ha–1
under different stage of decay forming ecto-o rgan ic la yers (L, F
and H) on mineral soil. The magnitude of forest floor was rela-
tivel y large i n S3 s tand co rresp ondi ng to th eir stan din g biomass
and small in S2 stand (Table 3). The distribution of organic
matter in these layers varied in different proportions such as
38% (L), 29% (F) and 33% (H) of the total forest floor litter on
the basis o f seasonal mean. This litt er serves as ‘nutrien t bank’,
checks evaporation and conserves soil moisture to optimize the
microbiological activity in the underlying mineral soil.
Fine Root Biomass
Fine roots play a crucial role in water and minerals uptake
and moisture retention in the soil. On account of their ephemer-
al nature, fine roots may also contribute to soil organic matter
and carbon sequestration. Besides, fine roots act well in recla-
mation of sodic soil by reducing the pH, improving the soil
structure, porosity and water permeability of heavy impervious
sodic soils. Fine root biomass in different season (rainy, autumn,
winter, spring and summer) was extracted with respect to soil
depth, intermittently at 15 cm intervals up to 45 cm. Total fine
root biomass (live and dead) was 532 g·m–2 up to 0 cm - 45 cm
depth in which live and dead proportions were classified as
93% and 7% respectively (Table 4). Fine root biomass de-
creased with depth up to 45 cm. Total fine root biomass varied
significantly (P < 05) between the stands with maximum in S1
stand and minimum in S3 stand. About 47% of total fine root
biomass occurred in superficial 0 cm - 15 cm depth. Fine root
biomass decreased significantly from rainy to summer season.
Total fine and small roots were classified into 5 diameter
classes from < 1 mm to 25 mm. Bi omass of fine roots incr eased
with size class in all the three stands accounting maximum in
10 mm - 25 mm size class ranging from 27% (S3 stand) to 42%
(S1 stand) and minimum in the 1 mm - 2 mm class with 7% (S1
stand) to 12% (S2 stand).
Table 3.
Annual litter fall in a rehabilitated forest on sodic land at Banthra, Lucknow (Mg·ha1).
Components Stands
S1 S2 S3 Mean
Leaf 6.18 5.43 5.57 5.73 ± 0.230
Twig 1.49 2.02 1.71 1.74 ± 0.154
Flower and Fruits
7.57 ± 0.238
2.30 ± 0.115
8.45 ± 0.182
Forest floor litter
Table 4.
Fine root biomass in a rehabilitated forest on sodic land (g·m2).
Dep th (cm) State Sta nds
S1 S2 S3 Mean
0 - 15
17 ± 2.63 33 ± 17.14 17 ± 8.15 22 ± 5.33
15 - 30 Live 283 ± 134.7 2 23 ± 84.73 140 ± 55.14 2 15 ± 41.45
5 ± 1.53 16 ± 9.57 4 ± 1.24 8 ± 3.84
30 - 45 Live 93 ± 37.3 47 ± 13.14 30 ± 11.22 57 ± 18.8
6 ± 3.5
2 ± 0.36
3 ± 0.95
4 ± 1.2
(0 - 45)
Dead 26 51 24 34 ± 8.68
Total 675 516 404 532 ± 79.22
Fine Root Production
Fine root production was less than half (233 g·m–2·yr–1) to
that of their biomass up to a depth of 30 cm (Table 5). About
two third i.e. 67% of the annual fine root production was meas-
ured during rainy and summer season. Corresponding to bio-
mass, fine ro ot produ ctio n was also less in lower strat a of 15-30
cm depth (101 g·m–2) in comparison to surface soil of 15 cm
(132 g·m–2). It appears that about 70% of the total annual pro-
duction of fine roots undergoes to mortality. However, in the
periodic in-growth core extractions, fractions of dead roots
were found to only 20% of the total annual production during
different seasons, but cumulative mortality during the year
would be many more times. Fine root production differed sig-
nificantly between the stands and it decreased from S3 to S1
Rehabilitation of barren sodic land under forest almost per-
forms the same ecological functions to that of their natural
allies despite of in different species composition plant commu-
nity stru cture and sp ecies abundance might be different, yet the
degraded state was renewed to an extent where life support
systems could be operated by the several tropical biotas. How-
ever, the process was enough difficult to create a healthy eco-
system on account of many soil constraints commonly found in
sodic soils which inhibit the establishment and growth of plants
(Gupta & Abrol, 1990; Sumner, 1993; Naidu & Rengasami,
1993; Garg, 1998), nevertheless it was successful effort to ac-
commodate a wid e range of species in the new biotope. Know-
ledge of the species adaptation to such sites and process in-
volved in succession can be utilized for rehabilitating the other
similar sites in general and sodic ones in particular. This study,
however, does not indicate temporal changes, yet it examines
the diversity of a rehabilitated forest from several angles whi ch
exerts a strong influence to restore stability and resilience of
rehabilitated ecosystem. Forest developed in such a way under
protection forestry programs is important to determine the rate
of restoration, structural and ecological diversities, establish-
ment of steady state in biogeochemical cycle and patterns to-
wards the cl imax communities. Any major disturban-
ces may destabilize the building of niche (composition, aggrega-
tion and org a ni z a ti on) whic h may ex tend the r e s tor a tion pr ocess.
Community Structure
A semi natural forest developed on sodic soil constituted 74
species belonging to 35 families. These species were classified
in overstory (44), understory (19), ground layer (8) and climber
(3). Several species of overstory are also found in understory
and ground layer vegetation which are supposed to be offspring
of the parents at different growth stage. Several parameters of
this rehabilitated forest have been compared with a degraded
and reference forest of the region (Table 6). Plant population
density decreased from degraded, rehabilitated to reference
forest, respectively for overstory species but understory popula-
tion in our rehabilitated forest was exceedingly high due to
biotic protection.The average basal area (30 m2·ha–1) of the
forest studied li es in between th e degraded (Jha & Singh , 1990,
Singh & Singh, 1991) and reference (Tripathi & Singh, 2009)
forests. It appears that the carrying capacity for supporting the
tree stock on sodic soils differs with species ranging from 12 to
38 m2ha–1 basal area in Acacia nilotica and Eucalyptus camal-
dulensis plantations at same age (Singh et al., 2000). These
values compar e fairl y well with 17 m2·ha–1 - 40 and 20 m2·ha–1 -
75 m2·ha–1 for dry and wet forests of the world, respectively
(Murphy & Lugo, 1986b). The basal area of our rehabilitated
forest is also well comparable to that of deciduous and ever-
green forest (16 m2·ha–1 - 33 m2·ha–1) of Brazil (Haase 1999),
beech forest 28 m2·ha-1 of Japan (Nagaike et al., 1999). Basal
area of hardwood forest in USA was relatively high in the range
of 40 m2·ha–1 - 45.5 m2·ha–1 (Gilliam et al., 1995) which might
be expected with bet ter silvicultural management on a good soil
The species richness of overstory vegetation was relatively
high from understory and ground layer. Number of species in
overstory can also be compared well with rainforest (43), moist
forest (45), temperate forest (45) in one hectare plot area
(Brockway, 199 8). The classi ficati on of species as a p ercent of
the total species in respective vegetation strata according to
their population in numerals revealed t hat there were only a few
species representing their populations in thousands and a high
percent of total species had their individuals either in units or
tens as under (Table 1).
Table 5.
Fine roo t production in a 45-yr o ld rehabilitate d f or e st on so dic soil (g·m2).
(cm) State Rainy (%) Autumn (%) Winter (%) Spring (%) Summer (%) Total annual
0 - 15 Live 35(33) 11(10 ) 8(8) 10(9) 43(40) 107
Dead 7(28) 5(20) 2(8) 3(12) 8(32) 25
15 - 30 Live 31(38) 13(16 ) 6(8) 6(8) 24(30) 80
(0 - 30)
Grand tota l 76(33) 39( 17) 18(7) 21(9) 79(34) 233
Table 6.
Com parat iv e evalu a tion of vege tation struct ure an d prod uc t i vity i n degra ded, re h a bili ta ted a nd refere nce forest.
Parameters Vegetation strata Degraded forest* Reha bilitated fore st** Reference forest***
Population density
1055 ± 68.7
554 ± 28
49 ± 45
Understory 343 ± 121 3728 ± 913 245 ± 116
Ground layer - 6813 ± 456 4015 ± 730
Basal area
16.53 ± 0.82
29.9 ± 1.9
35.22 ± 6.54
Understory 1.34 ± 0.47 4.2 ± 1.2 14.00 ± 8.20
Ground layer - 112 ± 66.4 274 ± 61
Spec ies ri c h ness
9 ± 0.24
44 ± 3.1
16 ± 1.76
Understory 8 ± 0.28 18 ± 1.6 25 ± 2.5
Ground layer - 12 ± 0.72 21±5.78
Richness index
0.39 ± 0.11
2 ± 0.1
1.74 ± 0.29
Understory 0.67 ± 0.09 1 ± 0.1 1.50 ± 0.57
Ground layer - 0.8 ± 0.1 0.91 ± 0.21
Overstory 0.72 ± 0.11 1.1 ± 0.07 0.93 ± 0.0 3
Understory 1.06 ± 0.05 0.9 ± 0.08 0 .77 ± 0.02
Ground layer - 0.7 ± 0.08 0.73 ± 0.06
Shanna Wiener’s
1.07 ± 0.32
3.6 ± 0.17
1.84 ± 0.14
Understory 1.98 ± 0.09 3.3 ± 0.27 2 .27 ± 0.17
Ground layer - 1.8 ± 0.19 2.2 3 ± 0.18
Concentrate of dominance
0.58 ± 0.107
0.14 ± 0.02
0.18 ± 0.02
Understory 0.31 ± 0.04 0.23 ± 0.07 0.15 ± 0.02
Ground layer - 0.40 ± 0.05 0.186 ± 0.01
89.87 ± 8.62
480 ± 37
Understory 4.28 ± 0.34 3.8 ± 0.4 70 ± 5
Ground layer 0.82 ± 0.15 0.04 ± 0.02 5 ± 0.2
Net production
12 ± 1.2
35 ± 2.5
Understory 0.9 ± 0.15 1.2 ± 0.15 15 ± 1.6
Ground layer 1.1 ± 0.17 0.05 ± 0.01 7 ± 1.1
*A fter S ingh and Misra (1979) and Singh and Singh (1991). **Present st udy. ***Tripathi and Singh (2009).
About 28 species were found naturally regenerating in this
forest which was about 64% of the total species listed in the
forest. All these species may be considered to be well adopted
in sodic soils viz. Aegle mar melos, Alangium salvifolium, Albizia
lebbe ck, Azadirachta indica, Bauhinia variegata, Cassia siamea,
Cassia fistula, Cordia dichotoma, Callistemon lanceolatus, Dal-
bergia sissoo, Dryopteris embryopteris, Ficus glomerata, Holop-
telea integrifolia, Leucaena leucocephala, Mangifera indica,
Phoen ix syl vest ris, Pithecellobium dulce, Derri s in dica, Putranjiva
roxburghii, Streblus asper, Sterculia alata, Syzygium cumini, Syz y-
gium heyneanum, Tamarindus indica, Thevetia peruviana, Termi-
nalia arjuna, Zizi phus nummularia etc.
Importan ce value index (IVI) of this forest in general ran ged
from 10 to 77 including 10 to 48 for overstory species. These
values match with the range of 11 to 52 for sub-tropical tree
species o f a wet hill forest, India (Rao et al., 1990). The IVI of
tree species of a protected forest in Orissa (India) ranged from
12 to 55 (Verma et al. , 1997), and trees of dry tropical forest of
Vindhyan region constituted 3 to 32 IVI (Singh & Singh, 1991).
Thus, our estimate for a rehabilitated forest compares fairly
well with the natural forests in India. Shannon Wiener’s index
(H) of general diversity obtained from 1.8 (ground layer) to 3.6
(Overst o r y vegetation ) indicated that the variability of trees was
apparently higher in comparison to ground flora. Since many
tree species were planted in this forest, tree diversity index
exceeded from dry tropical forests of India, whereas ground
layer diversi ty was almost similar to that of other native forests
(Jha, 1990; Singh & Singh, 1991). Shannon Wiener’s diversity
index of this forest was relatively low from tropical rainforests
(3.8 to 4.8) of Silent Valley, India, (Singh et al., 1984). A more
generalized relation of the species diversity is derived when
stands were pooled together for certain correlations. For in-
stance, the Shannon Wiener’s index increased positively with
the in crease in IV I and th e correlatio n was high ly signi ficant (P
< 01). The Shannon Wiener’s index was negatively correlated
with the concentration of dominance, and redundancy, wherea s;
it had a direct relation with equitability and richness index.
Successional patterns on plant species diversity during reha-
bilitation of barren land in India are not known and thus the
species recruitment/replacement rate is yet to be understood
with temporal scale from the initial establishments. The way
through which the succession approaches to attain equilibrium,
alike to that of natural forests of this region and is stabilized
might be interesting to understand for creating a new biotope of
our own choice. Manipulation at time to time may be made to
divert the ecological processes in the best interest of the entire
organism associated with the forests. However, most of the
natural forests are disturbed to various degrees on account of a
high population pressure for timber, industrial pulp and fuel-
wood which affect the species diversity significantly. For in-
stance a dry tropical forest of Vindhyan region in India con-
sisted of lower species diversity and basal area in comparison to
our study due to several biotic disturbances (Singh and Singh,
1991). However, if a forest is not disturbed during the devel-
opment of dominant species, then also the species richness is
reduced (Odum, 1960). Therefore moderate disturbance may be
in favor of high species richness. The studies made elsewhere
on species diversity with succession reported the conflicting
patterns. McCormick (1968) and (Nicholson & Monk, 19 74)
found that diversity increased with succession, while Shafi and
Yarantan (1973) reported decline in diversity with age. A few
noted the highest diversity in the early stages of succession
(Habeck, 1968; Long, 1977; P eet, 1978), whereas, several oth-
ers have dep icted a polyno mial increase follo wed by a decrea se
during succession (Margalef, 1963, 1968; Loucks, 1970; Auc-
lair & Goff, 1971; Schoonmaker & Mackee, 1988). In some
cases diversity may show multiple peaks during succession as
found by (Halpern & Spies, 1995). Therefore, no generalized
trend is maintained and such variations if examined along the
site quality gradients would be useful in modeling of diversity
The different theories of the community organization stated
that the diversity is a structural concept which relates to stabil-
ity, maturity, productivity and evolutionary time, predation
pressure and spatial heterogeneity (Hill, 1973). Species diver-
sity (richness) and dominance (Simpson index) were inversely
related to each other in agreement with Zobel et al. (1976).
Most of these studies suggest that major diversity changes oc-
cur during early forest formation and time of species saturation
during succession varies greatly in different forests (Nicholson
& Monk, 1974). The trends of equitability with succession has
not been yet resolved as the high diversity of undisturbed trop-
ical forest implies high equitability levels for mature tropi- cal
forest communities (Janzen, 1970; Shafi & Yaranton, 1973),
whereas other data indicate a strong decrease in equitability
with forest age in USA (Loucks, 1970; Auclair & Goff, 1971;
Nicholson & Scott, 1972). It might be possible that a high scale
catastrophic perturbation would have reduced the equitability in
mature forest vegetation. In general diversity indices (richness,
Shannon Wiener’s and equitability) tend to stabilize from
ground layer to overstory vegetation. Nicholson & Monk (1974)
expressed a b asic change in t he strategy of th e plant communi-
ties in initial forest formation from a low to high equitability.
The young communities (0 yr - 20 yr.) are characterized by
plentiful resources and growing space with low equitability,
whereas older communities, highly competitive in space and
resource, exhibited a high equitability. Thus rapid increase and
stabilization of plant equitability early in succession is viewed
as a necessary adjustment to resource scarcity. These findings
entail that the community structure and species diversity are
related to several environmental factors which lead to specific
changes at var ious scale ( r egi on, landscape, bio me).
Standing biomass and net primary production (NPP) are the
aggregate response of the plant species in a particular set of
environmental conditions. Climatic and edaphic factors across
the region along with the species intrinsic potential determine
the limits of ecosystems productivity. Forest productivity dif-
fers considerably with environmental conditions from arid to
humid climates (8 Mg·ha–1·yr–1 - 40 Mg·ha–1·yr–1) , st an d ing bio-
mass and net primary production are generally found to be
closely associated with each other. Forest established on de-
graded land tends to acquire the climate based yield in a par-
ticular habitat.
B i oma s s
Total biomass of the three stands varied about 12% - 14 %
from their mean in this rehabilitated forest. Our mean value
(347 Mg·ha–1 ± 27 Mg·ha–1) is supposed to be far better from
the other dry tropical forests (degraded) of India, however it is
yet to ach ieve the st atus of a reference forest of this region (Ta-
ble 6). Murphy & Lugo (1986b) have reported the global pat-
tern of biomass of dry tropical forests (78 Mg·ha–1 - 320
Mg·ha-1), in which the biomass of this rehabilitated forest was
relatively higher, but it was lower to that of wet tropical forest
(269 to 1186 Mg·ha–1) The total biomass of our rehabilitated
forest was less than half of the humid sal forest of India (Singh
& Singh, 1989). It was also below by 24% and 37% from the
trop ical rain for est of Sarawak an d Karnataka, I ndia (Pr octor et
al., 1983; Rai & Proctor, 1986). In a particular habitat biomass
depends much on the composition of the t ree species i n a forest
because species to species variations, even on the sodic soil
sites have been found to be quite high ranging from 202 (Aca-
cia nilotica) to 405 Mg·ha–1 (Eucalyptus) on the same site at
same age (Si ngh et al., 2000). The average biomass of our reha-
bilitated forest was less (43%) than the mixed dry deciduous
forest at Haryana India (Gupta & Bhardwaj, 1993). Such varia-
tions may be considered as the proportional responses of the
site quality interactions to various species in order to perform
the forest ecosystem functioning as efficiently as it can opti-
mize the cl imate based yield.
Biomass Alloca tio n
Above ground biomass in this study was low in comparison
to some tropical forests including wet forests. Biomass in above
ground plant parts was 88% of the total (stem 28%, branch 57%
and leaf 3%), indicating that allocation in root was below the
average of 20% observed in most of the natural forests. This
might be expected due to soil compactness and presence of
“Kankar pan ” (a st on y layer of C aCO3 gravels) in sub so il. As a
consequence, root could not spread and proliferate freely. In
this rehabilitated semi-natural forest the mean root biomass
contributed about 12.4% of total forest biomass in which coarse
root contributed 11% and fine roots contributed to 1.4% of total
forest biomass. The contribution of roots in total forest biomass
was comparatively low from dry tropical forests supporting
12% - 18% of total biomass (Singh & Misra, 1979; Murphy &
Lugo, 1986a; Singh & Singh, 1991). The contribution of coarse
root in present forest was comparable to lower range of value
(8% - 50%) reported for a number of dry forests (Murphy &
Lugo 1986b). It was also slightly less from the average contri-
bution of 16% in 33 moist and wet tropical forests cited by
Brown & Lugo (1982).
In global pattern, below ground biomass was 10 Mg·ha-1 - 45
Mg·ha–1 for dry tropical forest and 11-135 Mg ha–1 for tropical
wet forest (Murphy & Lugo, 1986b). However, tropical rain
forest in India consisted of a relatively low root biomass of 14
Mg·ha-1 - 20 Mg·ha–1 (Rai & Proctor, 1986). The root/shoot
ratio in our forest (0.124) was slightly less than that of global
pattern (0.181) of dry tropical forest (Murphy & Lugo, 1986b).
This forest had a very less root/shoot value in comparison to
other subtropical forests ranging from 0.39 - 0.42 (Jordan
1971a; Vyas et al. 1977). The understory biomass in our reha-
bilitated forest (3.76 Mg·ha-1) contributed a very little propor-
tion of 1.2% of total biomass of the forest, which is far less
from dry tropical forests of India, in which about 13 % - 40% of
total biomass was shared by understory (Singh & Singh, 1991).
However, (Singh & Misra, 1979) reported only 2% - 7% of
total biomass in understory of dry tropical forests on a different
site in same geographical r egi on.
Net production of this rehabilitated forest was estimated to
25 Mg·ha–1·yr–1, which appears to be better than dry tropical
forests of Ind ia, but it is l ess than the reference forest (Sin gh &
Misra, 1979; Singh & Singh, 1991; Tripathi & Singh, 2009).
Net production of this forest compares fairly well at higher
level in the global pattern of 13 Mg·ha–1 - 28 Mg·ha–1 and 8
Mg·ha–1 - 21 Mg·ha–1·yr–1 for wet and dry tropical forests, re-
spectively (Murphy & Lugo, 1986a, b). The net production of
present forest was also within the range (10.3 to 28.6
Mg·ha–1·yr–1) of montane rain forest of Puerto Rico and tropical
rain forest of Thailand (Kira et al., 1967; Jordan, 1971b). Ma-
naged p lantation s may generate a rel atively high yiel d from the
rehabilitated forests as observed in case of Eucalyptus saligna
and Albizia falcataria species at north east co st o f Islan d Hawai
(Bin kley & R yan, 1998). Therefore the net production of tropi-
cal forest plantations is considered to be one of the most pro-
ductive eco- systems in the world, showing 40 Mg·ha–1·yr–1 of
above ground net primary production (Lugo et al., 1998; Evan s ,
1992; Binkley et al., 1997). The enhanced productivity has been
found to be closely associated with the environmental factors
and gen eric potent ial.
Fine Root Biomass and Production
Fine roots perform some principal physiological functions in
absorption and conduction of solute, nutrient uptake, transpire-
tion, water retention in soils and on the death and decay, con-
tribute to soil organic matter. Fine roots also act well in recla-
mation of sodic soils by reducing the pH, improving the soil
structure and water permeability of heavy impervious sodic
soils. In general fine root biomass and production in afforested
sodic soils was relatively less in comparison to many other
forests of India and abroad. This may be due to the high soil
compactness, low rainfall, high pH, and poor water permeabil-
ity in sodic soils, which adversely affected the fine root devel-
opment in hostile conditions. Total fine root biomass (live +
dead) measured as 532 gm–2 up to 0 cm - 45 cm depth, was
comparatively low in the present study from the of tropical
deciduous forest up to 30 cm depth (Singh & Misra, 1979). The
variation in fine root biomass among the different stands was
14% (S1) to 20% (S3) from their mean value .Fine root bio-
mass was relatively high from the three plantation forests on
same site (Singh et al., 2000). In an earlier study, fine root bio-
mass (live + dead) was estimated as 222 g·m–2 up to 30 cm
depth in the same forest under the canopy of few species (Singh
1998). Thus various estimates of fine root biomass on the same
site differ significantly from each other corresponding to spe-
cies and soil depth considered in their studies. Fine root bio-
mass of thi s forest compares fairly well with that of dry tropical
forest (2.9 to 5.3 Mg·ha–1) in India (Singh & Singh, 1991). The
contribution of fine roots to total dry matter turnover in the
forest including litter was about 59% which lies within the
range 20% - 77% reported for a variety of forests (Vogt et al.,
1986). However in some dry tropical forests, fine roots contri-
bution was relatively low about 40% of the total dry matter
turnover (Singh & Singh, 1991).
Biomass of fine root was estimated as low as 0.5 Mg·ha–1
(Gower, 1987) and as high as 39.5 Mg·ha-1 from the rain forest
(Cavelier, 1992). The fine root biomass and production both
depend on environmental condition and community structure. A
high precipitation zone (10372 mm·a–1) showed significant
seasonal difference (Khewtan & Ramakrishnan, 1993). Fine
root biomass of a hard wood forest estimated as 4.71 Mg·ha-1
by Fahey & Hughes (1994) compared well with this forest, but
it was quite less in comparison to a semi-deciduous rain forest
at Panama (9.45 Mg·ha–1) observed by Cavelier (1992). In some
Indian tropical evergreen forests including eucalypt plantations
fine root biomass varied from 0.32 to 3.65 Mg ha–1 respectively
(Bargali et al., 1992; Vasalakshi, 1994), and our estimates
compared fairly well with some natural forests of the arid and
semiarid regions of India cited by Singh (1996). Fine root bio-
mass of our forest decreased with soil depth and about 47% of
total fine root biomass is accommodated in superficial layer
(0-15 cm). Decrease in fine root with soil depth is observed in
many forests occupying most of the proportion’s (43% of the
total) in floor horizon alone (Fahey & Hughes, 1994). Simmons
(1993) measured a much high value of fine root biomass (3.9
Mg·ha–1) in the thicker forest floor (10 cm) of a mature northern
hardwood forest. Fine root mortality (necromass) have been
observed as 10% - 15% of total fine roots in various forests
(Singh, 1998; Singh et al., 2000) and our estimate belongs to
lowest end of this range.
Seasonal fluctuation in fine root biomass varied from 42%
(summer) to 62% (rainy) of the yearly mean in our forest.
Maximum fine roots were extracted in rainy season and mini-
mum in summer season. However, Singh (1998) observed
minimum fine root biomass in winter season. Seasonal varia-
tion has been observed to 22% of the yearly mean in small roots
in the tropical dry deciduous forests in India (Singh & Singh
1981). The same for fine roots varied from 12 % - 17% from
their seasonal mean s in two dry t ropical evergreen forests ( Va-
salakshi 1994). Fluctuations of 50% or more have commonly
been found in many other forests (Grier et al., 1981; Mc-
Claugherty et al., 1982; Persson, 1978, 1979, 1980). However,
several oak and pine forests did not show any marked seasonal
variations and had almost stable biomass pools (Keyes and
Grier 1981; Aber et al. 1985). Comparing fine root biomass
between forest s is difficult b ecause of differences in measur ing
techniques, soil depth and root diameter classes considered. In
most Indian forests of dry zone it has varied from 32 to 340
gm–2 for <2 mm diameter to a depth of 30 cm (Parthasarthy,
1988; Vasalakshi, 1994). In our forest, fine roots of < 2 mm
diameter wer e catego rized to 20% of to tal fine roo ts, which was
comparativ ely less than other Indian d ry zone forests. Di fferent
soils, vegetation intensity and climatic factors constitute varia-
ble quantities of fine roots, nevertheless our forest compared
fairly well with some natural forests of the arid or semi arid
zone of India (Singh 1998).
Fine root production was measured as 2.33 Mg·ha–1·yr–1 in
this for est, which was nearl y half to that of fine root biomass to
a depth of 30 cm. Live fine root production ranged from 2.5
Mg·ha–1·yr–1 in chir pine forest to 3.61 Mg·ha–1·yr–1 in banj oak
evergreen forest (Usman & Rawat, 1999). According to Satoo
(1971) the fine root production in evergreen bro ad leaved forest
ranged between 3.7 to 5.3 Mg·ha–1·yr–1. The fine root produc-
tion in this study lies within the range of 1.4 to 11.5
Mg·ha–1·yr–1 report ed for various tropi cal and temperate forests
(Keys & Grier, 1981; Fogel, 1985; Santantonio & Hermann,
1985; Santantonio & Santantonio, 1987; Adhikari, 1992; Gar-
koti, 1992; Fahey & Hughes, 1994). In Indian forests, fine root
production ranged from 0.5 Mg·ha–1·yr–1 of tropical dry deci-
duous forest to 3.2 Mg·ha-1·yr-1 in humid tropical forest (Singh
& Singh, 1981; Khewtan & Ramakrishnan, 1993). Fine root
production in tropi- cal evergreen forest in In dia ranged from 1
to 1.17 Mg·ha–1·yr–1 Vasalakshi (1994). Fine root production
differed with seasons and maximum production occurred dur-
ing rainy season and summer season of about 67% of the an-
nual production. Fine root production of <2 mm diameter oc-
curred about 90% of total size classes studied which decreased
with increasing root size in this forest.
Litter fall is an important flux of nutrient cycle to maintain
the soil sustainability for perpetual production. Besides, it also
contributes significantly in reclamation of sodic soil. Litter
constitutes several parts i.e. leaves, twigs, bark, dead branches,
flower, frui ts, seed etc in whi ch leaf litter generally contributes
more than 50% of the total litter. Littoral and swamp forest and
tropical moist deciduous forest had the highest total as well as
leaf litter fall, while tropical dry deciduous forest had lowest
total and leaf litter fall. While comparing in four contrasting
forest types in India, Singh et al. (1992) also reported that dry
deciduous forest had lower litter fall than other types. The rela-
tively low net primary productivity of dry deciduous forests
might be one of the reasons. The litter quantity also depends on
the population density, age and species of the forest. Since most
of these forests are degraded ones, the litter fall was relatively
low. Annual litter fall of 8.5 Mg·ha–1·yr–1 was esti mated in the
rehabilitated forest which was greater than the litter fall (5.8
Mg·ha–1·yr–1) of dry tropical forest in India (Singh & Misra,
1979; Singh & Singh, 1991). Mean litter fall of 6.4 Mg·ha–1·yr–1
was reported for tropical montane forests (Vitousek & Sanford,
1986). A review of 44 published studies of Indian forests do-
cumented total and leaf litter fall in the range of 4.3 to 8.5
Mg·ha-1·yr-1 and 3.4 to 6.9 Mg·ha-1·yr-1 respectively (Dadhwal
et al., 1997). Vogt et al. (1986) compiled a range of 2.44 to 9.44
Mg ha-1yr-1 for various forest types of the world. The range of
litter for a variety of tropical and dry forests of the world was
reported to be 0.8 Mg·ha–1·yr–1 - 15.3 Mg·ha–1·yr–1 (Vitousek,
1984; Murphy & Lugo, 1986b; Dantas & Phillipson, 1989 ). So
our data lie in the middle of the said range. Leaf litter in the
present study contributed 68% of total litter fall which is com-
parable to that of (75%) tropical dry deciduous forests of India
(Singh & Misra, 1979). In our forest, of the total annual litter
fall, summer season contributed maximum (25%) and autumn
minimum (12%). Corresponding figures in deciduous forest
may reach to 42% of the total annual in summer and 18% in
rainy season (Singh & Misra, 1979).
The data generated here with on plant community students,
species diversity, biomass, net production, litter fall and fine
roots indicated that the restoration of barren sodic land in a new
forest ecosystem has acquired most of the characteristics prop-
erties of natural forests of this region, even after differing in
species composition. This case study suggests the adoption of
the most su ccessful species for the resto ratio n of oth er identi cal
sites in amore efficient way. If we could control the fire, live-
stock grazing and invasive alien species, organization of new
plant communities, succeeds with the little anthropogenic ef-
forts. Mixed plantation with native species, particularly legu-
minous, has become more successful. It would be better to in-
troduce the medicinal herbs, found in natural forests to develop
amore useful and compatible ground layer in the rehabilitated
Authors are grateful to the Director, National Botanical Re-
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