Ecological niche modelling to identify suitable sites for cultivation of two important medicinal lianas of the Western Ghats, India
Due to unsustainable harvesting and land use changes, two medicinally valuable, endangered liana species Coscinium fenes-tratum and Embelia ribes face severe threat in the wild. Climate change could also have profound impact on the distribution of these species which could result in contraction and/or expansion in geographical range of these species. Coscinium fenestratum and E. ribes are medicinally important species used for treating multiple ailments in humans. While the domestic demands for these species are on the rise, the resource availability has been shrinking. For long term sustenance of these species, it is imperative that these species are brought under cultivation. In this study, we used maximum entropy approach to identify suitable areas of cultivation of these species under both current and future scenarios viz., RCP’s 2.6 and 8.5 by 2070. Our study suggests that due to climate change there is a very small gain in the suitable area in future which could help sustain the populations of both the species in the wild. In addition, we provide spatially explicit maps for diferent suitability areas which can be efectively used for prioritizing the cultivation sites for each species. For both the species, areas adjoining tropical broadleaved forest patches in the Western Ghats ofer potential habitats at higher levels of probability for cultivation of species. We recommend that due consideration should be given for the sustainability of these two species by promoting cultivation outside the wild habitats and provide adequate protection of the two studied species in the wild. These results should also be useful for conservation planning and for prioritizing areas for protection as well as for large-scale commercial cultivation of these two species.