Assessment of edaphic features and herbaceous diversity was evaluated in two different sites (Site I, forest) and (Site II, pastureland) in the lower Dachigam National Park of Kashmir, Himalaya. The study was done on seasonal basis and the results revealed higher trend for edaphic factors at Site I (moisture content, 31.22%; organic carbon, 4.33% and total nitrogen, 0.33%). However, soil temperature varied from (6 to 25°C) at Site I. pH showed acidic (5.41, Site I) to nearly neutral kind of nature (6.91, Site II). Diversity index (H′) showed higher trend during summer season at both sites. Dominance index showed inverse relationship to diversity index (H′) at both sites. Richness index depicted maximum value in spring (Site I) and summer (Site II). Equability or evenness index showed highest value at Site I (winter) and Site II (summer). Comparatively average values showed higher trend at Site I in Shannon diversity (Site I = 2.655, Site II = 2.435), richness index (Site I = 3.297, Site II = 2.652) and equability index (Site I = 0.915, Site II = 0.852). Dominant species based on frequency and density at Site I were Fragaria nubicola, Poa annua, Stipa sibirica andTrifolium pratense whereas Site II was dominated by Cynodon dactylon, Origanum vulgare, Salvia moorcroftiana and Thymus serphyllum. Maximum similarities between the two communities were recorded in spring and minimum in winter season. The study concluded that seasons have great influence on edaphic factors and species diversity. During spring and summer season an increase in species diversity was observed which declined as autumn and winter approached due to multitude of factors. The study recommended urgent need for seasonal monitoring of soil characteristics and plant diversity in the two selected sites.
Key words: Dachigam, diversity, forest, grazing, seasons, species.
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