Western Himalayan broadleaf forests
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|Western Himalayan broadleaf forests|
|Biome||Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests|
|Borders||Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests, Himalayan subtropical pine forests and Northwestern thorn scrub forests|
|Area||55,900 km2 (21,600 sq mi)|
|Countries||Nepal, Pakistan and India|
The Western Himalayan broadleaf forests is a temperate broadleaf and mixed forest ecoregion which is found in the middle elevations of the western Himalayas, including parts of Nepal, India, and Pakistan.
The ecoregion forms an area of temperate broadleaf forest covering 55,900 square kilometres (21,600 sq mi) in a narrow band between 1,500 to 2,600 metres (4,900 to 8,500 ft) elevation, extending from the Gandaki River gorge in Nepal, through Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh in northern India, into disputed area of Jammu and Kashmir and parts of Pakistan. This ecoregion is drier and the forest is more fragmented than its Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests counterpart, which receive more moisture from the Bay of Bengal monsoon but is still valuable habitat especially as part of the pattern of habitats found at different elevations on the Himalayan mountainsides. Many species of birds and animals migrate up and down the mountains seasonally from the grasslands of the plains below to the high peaks.
At lower elevations, this ecoregion grades into Himalayan subtropical pine forests. At higher elevations, it grades into Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests as well as Northwestern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows and Western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows.
The Western Himalayan broadleaf forests may be divided into forests of two types: evergreen and deciduous broadleaved forests.
The evergreen broadleaf forest is dominated by oaks, consisting of Quercus semecarpifolia, Quercus dilatata, Quercus lamellosa, and Quercus incana. This forest is typically found on moister southern slopes, which are more influenced by the monsoon. Various Lauraceae call this forest home, including Machilus odoratissima, Litsea umbrosa, Litsea lanuginosa, and Phoebe pulcherrima. The understory features a rich assemblage of ferns, mosses, and epiphytes. On northern slopes, drier areas, and higher elevations, Quercus ilex is found, along with conifers representing Abies, Picea, Cedrus, and Pinus.
The deciduous forest is found along rivers west of the Gandaki River. It includes Aesculus indica, Juglans regia, Carpinus viminea, Alnus nepalensis, and several Acer species. In drier areas such as the valley of the upper Ghaghara River it includes Populus ciliata, Ulmus wallichiana, and Corylus colurna as well and the riverbanks are dominated by Himalayan alder (Alnus nitida).
Although there is less wildlife here than in the wetter Eastern Himalayas, this ecoregion is home to seventy-six species of mammals. These include the Asiatic black bear, leopard, the Himalayan tahr, and the threatened serow. There is one endemic mammal, the Kashmir cave bat (Myotis longipes) while the threatened Peter's tube-nosed bat (Murina grisea) is near-endemic.
About 315 species of birds have been recorded in this ecoregion from tiny warblers to large pheasants such as the western tragopan (Tragopan melanocephalus), satyr tragopan (Tragopan satyra), koklass pheasant (Pucrasia macrolopha), Himalayan monal (Lophophorus impejanus) and cheer pheasant (Catreus wallichi). Near-endemic birds of the forests include the white-cheeked tit, white-throated tit, spectacled finch, Kashmir flycatcher, Tytler's leaf-warbler, orange bullfinch, and Kashmir nuthatch, while the Himalayan quail which used to be found here is now thought to be extinct.
Threats and conservation
The Himalayas receive large numbers of visitors every year including religious pilgrims and trekkers. Although there a large number of protected areas each of them are quite small and most of original forest has been cleared for logging or for agricultural land, a process which is ongoing. Only a third remains unspoilt, with the largest patches remaining in the west of the ecoregion and any forest clearance on these steep mountainsides quickly results in soil erosion and oversilting of the rivers below. Protected areas in this ecoregion include Askot Musk Deer Sanctuary, and parts of the Govind Pashu Vihar Wildlife Sanctuary, Rupi Bhabha Sanctuary and the large Kishtwar National Park.
- Hoekstra, J. M.; Molnar, J. L.; Jennings, M.; Revenga, C.; Spalding, M. D.; Boucher, T. M.; Robertson, J. C.; Heibel, T. J.; Ellison, K. (2010). Molnar, J. L., ed. The Atlas of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities to Make a Difference. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-26256-0.
- "Western Himalayan broadleaf forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.
|Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests||Bhutan, India, Nepal|
|Northern Triangle temperate forests||Myanmar|
|Western Himalayan broadleaf forests||India, Nepal, Pakistan|