Low-altitude basalt plateau discovered in Manjare village, Thane
A rare low-altitude basalt plateau housing 76 species of plants and shrubs from 24 different families has been discovered in Manjare village, Thane district in the Western Ghats region, by Dr Mandar Datar of Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune and his team.
It can prove to be a repository of information for species interactions, help study effects of climate change on species survival and increase awareness of the conservation needs of rock outcrops and their immense biodiversity value in the global context.
The Western Ghats is one of four global biodiversity hotspots in India. ARI scientists have been studying its biodiversity, particularly its rock outcrops, for over a decade now. Plateaus are dominant landscapes in the Western Ghats, significant because of the predominance of endemic species. They are classified as a type of rock outcrop and provides unique and challenging environment for species to adapt to. These outcrops have seasonal water availability, limited soil and nutrients, which makes them ideal laboratories to study the effects of climate change on species survival. Plateaus are thus a valuable source of insight into how species can survive in extreme conditions.
This Manjare village plateau is the fourth type of plateau to be identified in the region; the previous three are laterites at high and low altitudes and basalt at high altitudes.
Surveying the plateau, the ARI team documented 76 species of plants and shrubs from 24 different families. The researchers believe this is an important discovery as the plateau shares the vegetation with the three other rock outcrops, simultaneously holding a few unique species. This gives a unique model system to study the species interactions in varying environmental conditions.
The research paper has been published in SpringerNature journal.