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International Journal of Botany

Year: 2010  |  Volume: 6  |  Issue: 4  |  Page No.: 371 - 382

Factors Contributing to Critically Endangered Status of Aquilegia nivalis Falc ex Jackson- an Alpine Endemic Angiosperm in the Kashmir Himalaya, India

A.R. Dar, Zafar Reshi, G.H. Dar and Lubna Andleeb

Abstract

Five populations of Aquilegia nivalis were regularly surveyed during 2004-2006 for the study of phenological events, population size, recruitment and mortality of its individuals besides reproductive ecology. The study revealed that its perennating organs start sprouting in the first week of June, followed by flowering of individuals in the 3rd week of June and seed formation in the last week of September. Due to the herkogamous and dichogamous nature of its flowers, A. nivalis is an out-breeder. The number of individuals in its populations ranges from 2.87 ind./m2±0.12 to 10.28 ind./m2±0.57. Due to small size of its populations, very few (0.37 ind/m2±0.15 to 2.86 ind./m2±0.14) individuals reach the reproductive stage. Furthermore, 10.66%±4.19 to 18.72%±10.31 of individuals are damaged by herbivores in various populations. These factors limit the availability of compatible mates in the populations and contribute to low-insect visitation frequency (0.03±0.00 to 0.14±0.02; n=18), low pollen viability (46.50±1.93; n=3) and consequentially very low fruit (0%±0 to 70%±15.28) and seed set (0%±0 to 60.8%±15.85). All these factors, in conjunction with hostile habitat conditions and enhanced anthropogenic pressures, contribute to the present threat status of this endemic species.

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