Ingress of Lantana in dry tropical forest fragments: Edge and shade effects

23 April 2008

Invasion of native communities by exotic species is considered the second largest threat to global biodiversity. Since the tropics are highly populated, they experience greater pressure of invasive species, as the process of plant species invasion gets exacerbated with increased anthropogenic interventions. Seasonal tropical forests are especially susceptible to invasion. In India, dry tropical forest accounts for 28.6% of the total forest cover. These forests are under immense anthropogenic pressure due to rapid industrialization and related land-use changes in the past few decades, leading to forest fragmentation. Lantana (Lantana camara L.) had been introduced in India in the early 19th century as an ornamental plant; but now it is growing densely throughout India. Field observations in the dry tropical forests of India indicated that lantana is spreading fast. However, it is not uniformly distributed across a forest fragment. The objective of the present study was to assess the spread of lantana across forest fragments and to establish a relationship between lantana cover and tree canopy opening due to dry tropical forest fragmentation.