Introduction: What conservation problem or question does your study address?Adaptive habitat preference is an effective survival strategy for plant species which has endemic and endangered status. Understanding the driving force for the micro-habitat shift in Decalepis hamiltonii and harvesting methods is critical for the in-situ conservation in a dry tropical forest. Our study focuses on drivers of habitat preference and species response with respect to commercial harvesting practices in natural forest.
Methods: What were the main research methods you used?History of harvesting constructed through secondary data from forest department and harvesters interview. Transects were laid in forest areas where commercial harvesting takes place for long term and short term to assess the population structure and habitat preference of the species. Species survival rate was recorded before and after harvesting in different habitats. Harvesting methods was documented through harvesters’ interaction.
Results: What are your most important results?Long term unsustainable harvesting practice drives species distribution more towards un-accessible habitat such as rocky clips and bamboo clumps. D. hamiltonii shows more stable population structure and with high relative abundance in un-accessible habitat. Lack of harvesting skill accelerates the habitat shift in root yielding climber Decalepis hamiltonii. Soil features, Neighborhood species influence also contributed equally for micro habitat shift.
Discussion: What are your important discussion points and what is the relevance of your results to conservation (if any)?Evolution of habitat preference depends on individual habitat choice and fitness consequences. The stable population structure (reverse J shaped population curve) and density reflects the species fitness. In conservation point of view, understanding the history of harvesting methods, criteria for individual selection for harvesting plants and purpose of harvest would shed light on the extent of an anthropogenic factor which influence on species habitat shift.