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Life form and leaf spectra reported from subtropical to alpine and subalpine zoane of Basu hills, District Sakardu Gilget Pakistan.


The biological spectrum is defined as percentage ratio of life form of plant present in any area. It is an important physiognomic attribute that has been widely used in vegetation studies. Life form spectrum tells us about the climate of area and can be predicted for particular climate, properties for any continent, bio geographic region and altitude (Sarmiento and Monasterio, 1983). It gives basic climatic information of the area (Meher-Homoji, 1981 Danni and Orshan, 1990). Similarly, leaf size knowledge may help in understanding the physiological processes of plant and plant communities (Oosing, 1956)

Yemeni and Sher (2010) studied the biological spectrum of vegetation of Asir mountain of Saudi Arabia. Malik et al. (2007) gave the life form and leaf spectra of Ganga Chotti and Bedorri hills, Azad Kashmir. Batahala and Mantovani (2001) carried out floristic survey in two Cerrado sites and classified the species in life form classes. Ajaib et al. (2008) studied Biological spectrum of Saney Baney hills Kotli (A.K).

Basho Hills lies in district Skardu and is situated 950 km from Rawalpindi. The district Skardu lies in between longitude 35[degrees] 27' 162" North and latitude 75[degrees] 18' 701" East. It is bounded on the Southeast by Kargil district (Indian Jammu and Kashmir) on East by district Ganche, on Northeast by Xingjian province China, South by Baramulla Kargil district (Indian Jammu and Kashmir), on the West by district of Astore and on North by district Gilgit. The climate of Basu hills is of sub alpine and alpine type with average annual rainfall of 92.5 mm. The maximum rainfall occurs during April amounting to 424 mm, while least rainfall occurs during November amounting to 2.5 mm. The hottest months of the year are July and August with mean temperature of 32[degrees]C and 31[degrees]C respectively, while the coldest months of year were December, January and February with mean temperature of-5.36 [degrees]C, -8.1 [degrees]C and -8.83 [degrees]C respectively. The average maximum and minimum relative humidity received by the area is 84.7 and 23.3% respectively.


The investigated area was divided into nine localities on the basis of altitude and physiognomic difference. Life form reflects the adaptation of plant to climate. The plants were classified after Raunkiaer (1934) and Muller and Ellenberg (1974).The leaf size knowledge help us in understanding the physiological process of plants and plant communities and is useful in classifying the associations of plants. Plants were divided in to, (A) leptophyll, (B) nanophyll (C) microphyll (D) mesophyll and (E) megaphyll. For this estimation in the area Raunkiaer (1934) diagram was used. The survey was done during monsoon, 2010.


The communities in the present study were recorded on the basis of life form and leaf spectra which are as follows:


Pinus-Festuca community. This community is characterized by Chameophytes (35.71%) nanophanerophytes (21.42%) megaphanerophytes (14%). Geophytes and therophytes were 7.14% each. The Chameophytes were dominant in this community (Table 1).

Pinus community. From 3200 m to 4000 m Pinus wallichiana was dominant species. In this community hemicryptophytes were dominant with a share of 24%. It was followed by nanophanerophytes, Chameophytes, and megaphanerophytes having the contribution of 20.56, 18.30, and 16.50% respectively. Geophytes share low value (6.47%) (Table 1).

Pinus-Poa community. There were 15 species. Out of which 13.33% were megaphanerophytes, 20.00% were nanophanerophytes and Chameophytes each, 33.33% were hemicryptophytes and 6.67% were geophytes and therophytes each. This community shows dominance of hemicryptophytes (Table 1).

Pinus-Tamaricaria-Agrostis community. The percentage of megaphanerophytes, nanophanerophytes, Chameophytes, hemicryptophytes and therophytes were 18.18 each. While the geophytes shows the least value of 9.09% (Table 1).

Pinus-Juniperus community. In this community megaphanerophytes, nanophanerophytes and therophytes were 16.66% each; hemicryptophytes shares 41.66% and the percentage of Chameophytes were only 8.33. Hemicryptophytes were dominant in this community (Table 1).

Pinus-Bergenia community. This community comprises of 12 plant species out of which 16.16% were megaphanerophytes. Nanophanerophytes and Chameophytes were 25% each. Hemicryptophytes and geophytes shows also share of 16.66%. The Chameophytes and nanophanerophytes were the dominating life form of this community.

Pinus-Betula-Juniperus community. This community was characterized by 13.33% megaphanerophytes, 20% nanophanerophytes, 40% Chameophytes and 13.33% of geophytes. While hemicryptophytes and therophytes shares the least value of 6.67% (Table 1).

Pinus-Betula-Bergenia community. In this community Chameophytes were dominant with a share of 38.46% (Table 1), it was followed by megaphanerophytes having the contribution of 23.07%. The nanophanerophytes hemicryptophytes and Geophytes shows low value (6.47%).

Pinus-Bergenia-Betula community. There were 13 species. Out of which 23.07% were megaphanerophytes, 15.38% were nanophanerophytes, 30.76% were Chameophytes, and 15.38% were hemicryptophytes. Geophytes and therophytes have equal share of 7.69% each (Table 1). This community shows dominance of hemicryptophytes.

As a whole Chameophytes were dominant and their percentage were 26.38 followed by microphylls, nanophylls and mesophyll. Their percentages were 19.83, 19.17, 17.23 and 12.06 respectively. The least percentage was that of geophytes i.e. 5.59 (Table 1, Fig. 1).


Pinus-Festuca community. The community is characterized by leptophyll 57.14%, nanophylls 7.14%, microphyll 35.71%. Megaphylls were absent in this community. Leptophylls were dominant in this community (Table 2).

Pinus community. From 3200 m to 4000 m Pinus wallichiana was dominant species. In this community leptophylls were dominant with a share of 65%. It was followed by microphylls and nanophylls having the contribution of 18.37, and 16.33% respectively (Table 2).

Pinus-Poa community. This community was dominated with leptophylls with a share of 65.31% and it was followed by microphylls with the percentage of 18.37.nanophylls were least (16.33) while megaphylls and marcrophylls were absent. (Table 2).

Pinus-Tamaricaria-Agrostis community. This community was dominated by leptophylls and the percentage of leptophylls was 63.64%. While the rest of 36.36% were microphylls. Nanophylls and megaphylls were absent. (Table 2).

Pinus-Juniperus community. In this community Leptophylls were dominant with 66.67% followed by microphylls with the percentage of 25. Nanophylls were least with only 8.33%. (Table 2).

Pinus-Bergenia community. This community comprises of 12 plant species out of which 58.33% were Leptophylls. Microphylls constitutes 25% of the community, which was followed by megaphylls and Nanophylls with 8.37and 8.33% each. The Leptophylls and microphylls were the dominant in this community. (Table 2).

Pinus-Betula-Juniperus community. This community was comprises of 40% leptophylls followed by 33.33% Nanophylls, which was followed by 13.37% Nanophylls. While nanophylls were least with the value of 13.33% (Table 2).

Pinus-Betula-Bergenia community. In this community Leptophylls were dominant with a share of 38.46% (Table 2), it was followed by Nanophylls having the contribution of 30.77%. The microphylls and megaphylls shares the least value of 15.38%. (Table 2).

Pinus-Bergenia-Betula community. There were 13 species. Out of which 46.15% were leptophylls, 30.77% were nanophylls 15.38% were megaphylls and microphylls were only 7.69%. This community shows dominance of leptophylls. (Table 2).

As a whole leptophylls were dominant and their percentage were 57% followed by microphylls, nanophylls and mesophylls. Their percentages were 20.13, 17.63 and 4.54 respectively. (Table 2, Fig. 2).


The life form of a plant is the vegetative form of plant body which is thought to be a heredity and adjustment to the environment. The organism which shows the same general vegetative character belongs to the same life form.

Life from spectra tells us about the climate of an area. These life forms differ in every zone on the basis of altitude. Raunkiaer (1934) reported three types of climates on the earth which includes phanerophytic in tropics, therophytic in deserts and hemicryptophytic in cold temperate zone.

In the investigated area Chameophytes were the dominant group followed by hemicryptophytes, nanophanerophytes and megaphanerophytes. Chameophytes are the indicator of alpine vegetation. Hemicryptophytes are indicators of temperate zone.

The climate of the studied area differs temperate to subalpine and alpine type at various altitudes. The biological spectrum obtained in present study is a reflection of existing environmental conditions.

The Basho Hills are climatically cool with scattered trees. Hussain et al. (1997) reported that in Girbanar Hills, Chameophytes increased from lower altitude to higher altitude. They are generally the most common life form in high altitude and high latitude. Tareen and Qadir reported that from Harnai to Duki moist and cold condition, low temperature and wind are characteristic. Almost, similar situation exists at investigated sites. Geophytes were present in low percentage and they are characteristic of Mediterranean climate. This group in the area was least in share due to their ability to with stand long periods of adverse climatic conditions. Chameophytes of the area included Bergenia stracheyi, Scabiosa speciosa, Epilobium laxum, Potentilla salesoviana, Bistorta affinis, Pyrola secunda, Nepeta kokanica.

Ram and Arya (1991) reported 36% short forbs, 27% cushion and spreading forbs 17% each in the alpine vegetation at Rudranth. In our case too chameophytes were more dominant than other life forms in the alpine part of the study area. Qadir and Shetvy (1986) considered chameophytes and therophytes as the major life form in unfavorable environment in desert region. In the investigated area cold conditions, low temperature, wind and biotic factors result in un-favorable conditions paving way for chamaephytes. Saxina et al. (1987) stated that hemicryptophytes dominated temperate and alpine zones in overlapping and loose continuum. The present findings in this regard also agree with them. The findings of Qadir and Tareen (1987) andTareen and Qadir (1993) are also in line with our findings as they reported the dominance of hermicryptophytes in temperate vegetation of Blochistan.

Leaf spectra tell us about the plant associations of a community. Small leaves were present at the base while large leaves were present at high altitude. Smaller leaves are indicators of xeric. In the investigated area overall vegetation is dominated by leptophyllous along with microphylls. Leptopylls are the indicators of dry alpine and subalpine vegetation. Malik et al. (2007). Microphylls are usually characteristic of steppes, while nanophylls and leptophylls are characteristic of hot deserts (Cain & Castro, 1959;Tareen & Qadir, 1993). The present study shows that leptophylls were high at the foot hills, while microphylls and nanophylls were present in high altitudes. Species with large leaves occur in warmer moist climates, while smaller leaves are characteristic of cold and dry climates and degraded habitats.

Amjad (2010) reported the dominancy of leptophyllous and nanophyllous spp. in dry subtropical semi-evergreen from Kotli Hills. Species with small leaves are generally characteristic of dry and adverse habitat condition. These conditions exist due to deforestation and overgrazing. The observed relationship between small leaves and hot desert climate are adoptive character in retaining moisture. Soil moisture retention is critical when root sensitive to low temperature result in a decrease weight of water absorption from the soil (Greller, 1988). In the mountainous area the soil is generally poor where root feel difficulty in absorbing soil moisture. In the present study the high percentage of microphylls might be due to cool climate, low temperature, high wind velocity in subalpine and alpine. In alpine zone the plant face drought during winter especially in frozen soil. The species with microphyllous and nanophyllous leaves were abundant due to ecological conditions for these arid conditions. The present findings agree with Qadir and Tareen (1987) who reported microphylls and nanophylls with dry temperate climate (wind, snowfall and aridity) of Quetta District.

5 References

[1] Ajaib. M, Khan. Z, Muhammad. S, Mahmood. R, "Biological spectra of Saney Baney Hills district Kotli Azad Jammu and Kashmir", P. J. Sci. 2008; 60 (1-2): 53-58.

[2] Amjad. MS, "The recent position of Pinus roxburghii in the forest of Kotli Hills". M.Sc. Thesis Department of Botany University of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Muzaffarabad, 2010.

[3] Bathala. MA, and Mantovani. W, "Floristic composition of the Cerrodo in the pre de Gigante Reserve (South eastern Brazil)". Acta Bot. Braz. 2001; 15: 147-163.

[4] Cain. SA, and Castro. GMD, "Manual of vegetation analysis", Harper and Brother, Pub. New York. 1959 pp. 355.

[5] Danin. A, and Orshan. G.. "Desert rocks as plant refugia in the near east". The Botanical Review 1990; 35:93-170.

[6] Greller. AM, "Vegetational composition leaf size and climatic warmth in an altitudinal sequence of evergreen forest in Srilanka". Trop. Ecol. 1988; pp. 121-145.

[7] Hussain. F, Ilyas. M, and Takatsuki. S, "Plant communities of Girbanr Hills, Swat district, northwestern Pakistan". Ecol. Rev. 1997a 23: 247-60

[8]Malik. NZ, Hussain. F, and Malik. ZH, "Life form and leaf size spectra of plant communities harbouring at Ganga Chotti and Bedorii hills". Int. j. Agri. Bio. 2007; 15(6): 833-838.

[9] Meher-Homji. VM, "Environmental implication of life-form spectra from India" J. eco. & Tax. Bot. 1981; 2:23-30.

[10] Muller. DB, and Ellenberg. H, "Aims and Methods of vegetational Ecology", John Wiley and Sons, New York 1974; pp 547

[11] Oosting. HJ, "The Study of Plant Communities", 2nd edition, pp: 69-78. W.H. Freeman and Co., Sanfrancisco, 1956.

[12] Qadir. SA and Shetvy. OA, "Life form and leaf size spectra and phytosociology of some Libyan plant communities". Pakistan J. Bot. 1986; 18: 271-86

[13] Qadir. SA, and Shetvy. OA, "Life form and leaf size spectra and phytosociology of some Libyan plant communities". Pakistan J. Bot. 1986; 18: 271 -86

[14] Qadir. SA, and Tareen. RB, "Life form and leaf size spectra of the flora of Quetta District". In: Ilahi, I and F. Hussain (eds.), Modern Trends Plant Science and Research Pakistan, pp: 59-62. Botany Department University of Peshawar 1987; pp: 59-62

[15] Ram. J, and Arya. P, "Plant forms and vegetation analysis of an alpine meadow of Central Himalaya, India". Proceeding of Indian National Science Academy 1991; 57: 311-7

[16] Raunkiaer.C, "The life form of plants and statistical plants geography" Clarendon Press Oxford 1934; pp 623.

[17] Sarmiento. G, and Monasterio. M, "Life form and phenology" In: F. Bourliere (ed.) Ecosystem World; Tropical Savannas, Elsevier. Amsterdam 1983; pp 79-108.

[18] Saxina. AK, Pandey, TP and Singh. JS, "Altitudinal variation in the vegetation of Kaumaun Himalaya". Perspective Env. Bot. 1987; pp: 44-66.

[19] Tareen. RB, and Qadir. SA, "Life form and leaf size spectra of the plant communities of diverse areas ranging from Harnai,Sinjwaito Duki regions of Pakistan". Pak. J. Bot.1993; 25:83-92.

[20] Yemani. M, and Sher. H, "Biological spectrum with some other ecological attributes of the flora and vegetation of the Asir Mountain of South West, Saudi Arabia", A. J. Biotec. 2010; 9(34): 5550-5559.

Muhammad Shoaib Amjad (1), Abdul Hameed (2), Zahid Hussain Malik (3)

(1) Department of Botany PMAS- University of Arid Agriculture Rawalpindi (2,3) Department o Botany university of Azad Jammu and Kahmir Muzaffarabad,
Table 1. Life Form of Plant Communities recorded from Basu Hills

                           Mp     Np     Ch      H            G

                  Altit                  No            of
                  ude     No o     %     of      %     sp    %ag
Community         (m)     spp     age    spp    age    p      e

Pinus-Festuca     3080     2     14.28    3    21.42   5    35.71

Pinus             3200     8     16.50   10    20.56   9    18.30

Pinus-Poa         3500     2     13.33    3    20.00   3    20.00

Pinus-            3700     2     18.18    2    18.18   2    18.18

Pinus-Juniperus   3850     2     16.66    2    16.16   1    8.33

Pinus-Bergenia    4250     2     16.66    3    25.00   3    25.00

Pinus-Betula-     4350     2     13.33    3    20.00   6    40.00

Pinus-Betula-     4500     3     23.07    2    15.38   5    38.46

Pinus-Bergenia-   4600     3     23.07    2    15.38   4    30.76

Total                      26    16.88   30    19.48   38   24.67


                  Altit   of           No            No
                  ude     sp     %     of      %     of      %
Community         (m)     p     age    spp    age    spp    age

Pinus-Festuca     3080    5    7.14     1    7.14     2    14.28

Pinus             3200    9    24.04    3    6.47     7    14.09

Pinus-Poa         3500    3    33.33    1    6.67     1    6.67

Pinus-            3700    2    18.18    1    9.09     2    18.18

Pinus-Juniperus   3850    1    41.66    -      -      2    16.66

Pinus-Bergenia    4250    3    16.66    -      -      2    16.66

Pinus-Betula-     4350    6    6.67     2    13.33    1    6.67

Pinus-Betula-     4500    5    15.38    -      -      1    7.69

Pinus-Bergenia-   4600    4    15.38    1    7.69     1    7.69

Total                     32   20.80    9    5.84    19    12.33


Mp = Megaphanerophytes
Np = Nanophanerophytes
Th = Therophytes
Th = Therophytes
G = Geophytes
Ch = chameophytes
L = Lianas

Table 2. Leaf Spectra of Plant Communities Recorded from Basu hills

                                   L               N

                  Altitude   No of           No of
Community         (m)        spp     % age   spp     % age

Pinus-Festuca     3080       8       57.14   1       7.14

Pinus             3200       32      65.31   8       16.33

Pinus-Poa         3500       10      66.67   3       20

Pinus-            3700       7       63.64   -       -

Pinus-Juniperus   3850       8       66.67   1       8.33

Pinus-Bergenia    4250       7       58.33   1       8.33

Pinus-Betula-     4350       6       40      5       33.33

Pinus-Betula-     4500       5       38.46   4       30.77

Pinus-Bergenia-   4600       6       46.15   4       30.77

Total                        89      57.80   27      17.63

                                   Mi             Me

                  Altitude   No of           No of
Community         (m)        spp     % age   spp     %age

Pinus-Festuca     3080       5       35.71   -       -

Pinus             3200       9       18.37   -       -

Pinus-Poa         3500       2       13.33   -       -

Pinus-            3700       4       36.36   -       -

Pinus-Juniperus   3850       3       25      -       -

Pinus-Bergenia    4250       3       25      1       8.33

Pinus-Betula-     4350       2       13.33   2       13.33

Pinus-Betula-     4500       2       15.38   2       15.38

Pinus-Bergenia-   4600       1       7.69    2       15.38

Total                        31      20.13   7       4.54


L = Leptphyll

N = Nanophyll Mi = Micropohyll Me = Mesophyll

Fig. 1. Life Form of Basu Hills

Life Form

Mp   16.88

Np   19.48

Th   12.33

H     4.54

Ch   24.67

G     5.84

Note: Table made from pie chart.

Fig. 2. Leaf spectr of Basu Hills

Leaf spectra

L    54.8

N    17.63

Mi   20.13

Me    4.54

Note: Table made from pie chart.
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Author:Amjad, Muhammad Shoaib; Hameed, Abdul; Malik, Zahid Hussain
Publication:International Journal of Emerging Sciences
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Dec 1, 2012
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