Distribution mapping of Bauhinia vahlii Wight & Arn. in India using ecological niche modelling
Bauhinia vahlii Wight & Arn. is an important multipurpose, woody climber used by the rural communities in India for various economic activities as well as for medicinal purposes. Indiscriminate extraction of the woody climber has led to population decline in its distribution range. Climate change has further led to the amplification leading to drastic decline of the natural populations. Therefore, the present study aimed to map the potential distribution of B. vahlii in India using ecological niche modelling (ENM) tools for the current and future climate change scenarios using RCP 2.6 and RCP 8.5. The maximum entropy model was performed using presence-only data of a total of 38 non-overlapping occurrence points obtained from multiple authenticated online portals and through a detailed field investigation. A rise in very high probable zones was observed under both the future climate change scenarios by 0.2% (RCP 2.6) and 0.5% (RCP 8.5) area increase compared to the current climatic scenario. The areas of moderately probable zones pose an increase by 4.5% in RCP 2.6 and a slight decrease by 0.4% in RCP 8.5, while the least probable zones were found to be decreasing in both the cases by 7.3% and 3.6%, respectively. It is predicted that B. vahlii will respond variably under different climate change scenarios based on the species' response to the variations in bioclimatic variables. The predicted impacts of climate change need to be integrated for conservation and management of this economically important, multipurpose woody climber. There is an urgent need for immediate policy intervention and implementation to save this species from the increasing anthropogenic pressure for various economic purposes.