Population status, genetic diversity, propagation methods of two narrowly endemic plants Curcuma bhatii (R.M.Sm.) Škorničk. & M. Sabu and Impatiens raziana Bhaskar & Razi of the Western Ghats, India. 2017-2019.
Forest degradation and fragmentation caused by changes in human land use is of primary concern for the sustainability and conservation in the Western Ghats, which has been experiencing rapid population growth over the last few decades. In recent years, anthropogenic landscape change and habitat fragmentation has threatened the genetic connectivity of many plant species, which could ultimately lead to their disappearance. This is particularly so for the narrow endemic species which are severely affected by fragmentation as it leads to isolation of populations. Isolation of populations can lead to genetic drift and inbreeding ultimately resulting in loss of genetic variability loss of alleles etc. However, few programs have aimed to systemically address the loss of genetic variability and to genetically improve population of such narrowly endemic species in India. In this project, the distribution of two narrowly endemic species Curcuma bhatii and Impatiens raziana will be mapped in the Western Ghats, population status and threats to the species will be identified and genetic variability across different populations in Western Ghats will be assessed. Attempts will also be made to develop mass multiplication techniques for these species. Based on the data on the demography and genetic diversity, the conservation and management protocols will be developed. The project would also offer rich insights into the narrowly endemic species, which could later be adopted for genetically enriching other important and narrowly endemic species in the Western Ghats.