Bhutan Journal of Natural Resources and Development

College of Natural Resources

Grassland Communities, Graminoid Composition, and their Diversity Pattern on the Eastern Mountain Slope of Dochula, Bhutan

Dorji, Tshering.;  Gurung, Dhan. ; 



The composition of grassland communities in Bhutan is poorly understood. This study was conducted to determine the grassland communities and graminoid diversity pattern among different vegetation types on the east slope of Dochula. We laid twenty-four Modified Whittaker (MWP) nested plots in six different vegetation types through stratified random sampling. A total of 268 plant species were recorded, of which 110 were graminoids. Mean alpha richness ranged from 16–38 species between MWPs. Species richness and Shannon index were the highest in agriculture land, while meadow had the lowest. One-way ANOVA showed significantly higher species diversity and richness in agricul-ture land. Three grassland communities were identified through cluster analysis: Dry Chirpine grass-land, Agriculture meadows, and Cool temperate grassland. This study explored the possibility to clas-sify grassland communities in Bhutan and suggests that the current method can be upscaled to classi-fy grassland communities at a national level. However, additional environmental factors such as soil moisture, soil temperature, and nutrient content are required to better explain species distribution and their interactions.


Bhutan, graminoids, grassland, Modified-Whittaker Plot

Full Text



Alexander, R. and Millington, A. (2000). Vegetation Mapping: From Patch to Planet. Wiley, Chichester.
Brinkmann, K., Patzelt, A., Dickhoefer, U., Schlecht, E., and Buerkert, A. (2009). Vegetation Patterns and Diversity along an Elevational and a Grazing Gradient in the Jabal Al Akhdar Mountain Range of North-ern Oman. Journal of Arid Environments, 73:1035-1045.
Chahouki, M.A.Z. (2013). Classification and Ordination Methods as a Tool for Analyzing of Plant Commu-nities. In Multivariate Analysis in Management, Engineering and the Sciences.
Chandra, J., Rawat, V.S., Rawat, Y.S., and Ram, J. (2010).Vegetational Diversity along an Altitudinal Range in Garhwal Himalaya. International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation, 2(1):14-18.
Colwell, R.K., Chao, A., Gotelli, N.J., Lin, S.Y., Mao, C.X., Chazdon, R.L., and Longino, T.J. (2012). Mod-els and Estimators Linking Individual-Based and Sample-Based Rarefaction, Extrapolation, and Compar-ison of Assemblages. Journal of Plant Ecology, 5:3-21.
Doležal, J., and Šrůtek, M. (2002). Altitudinal Changes in Composition and Structure of Mountain-Temperate Vegetation: A Case Study from the Western Carpathians. Plant Ecology, 158(2):201-221.
Dorji, U., Olesen, J.E., Bocher, P.K., and Seidenkrantz, M.S. (2015). Spatial Variation of Temperature and Precipitation and Links to Vegetation and Cover. Mountain Research and Development, 36(1):66-79.
Dorji, U., Olesen, J.E., and Seidenkrantz, M.S. (2016). Water Balance in the Comlex Mountainuous Terrain of Bhutan and Linkages to Landuse. Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, 7(2016):55-68.
Dorji, R. (2016). Fern Diversity and Relative Abundance at Limbukha and Goenshari Geog under Punakha Dzongkhag. BSc. Thesis, College of Natural Resources, Royal University of Bhutan.
Dufour, A., Gadallah, F., Wagner, H.H., Guisan, A., and Buttler, A. (2006). Plant Species Richness and En-vironmental Heterogeneity in a Mountain Landscape: Effects of Variability and Spatial Configuration. Ecography, 29:573–584.
Francis A.P., and Currie D.J. (1998). Global Patterns of Tree Species Richness in Moist Forests: Another Look. Oikos, 81:598-602.
Gibson, D.J. (2009). Grasses and Grassland Ecology. Oxford Nuiversity Press, New York.
Grierson, A.J.C. and Long, D.G. (1983). Flora of Bhutan including a Record of Plants from Sikkim, 1(1). Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
Gyamtsho, P. (1996). Assessment of the Condition and Potential for Improvement of High Altitude Range-lands of Bhutan. Doctoral Thesis, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich.
Haq, E.U., Dar, G.H., Wafai, B.A., and Khuroo, A.A. (2011). Taxonomy and Phytogeography of Genus Carex L. (Cyperaceae) in the Kashmir Himalaya. Life, 50(1).
Hawkins, B.A., and Diniz J.A.F. (2004). Latitude and Geographic Patterns in Species Richness. Ecography, 27:268–272.
Hemp, A. (2001). Life Form and Strategies of Forest Ferns on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Life Forms and Dynamics in Tropical Forests Disserationes Botanicae, 346:95-130.
Mani, M.S. (1978). Ecology and Phytogeography of the High Altitude Plants of the Northwest Himalaya: Introduction to High Altitude Botany. Halstead Press, Ultimo.
McCune, B., Grace, J.B., and Urban, D.L. (2002). Analysis of Ecological Communities (Vol. 28). MjM Soft-ware Design, Gleneden Beach.
Miller, D.J. (1987). Rangelands of the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. Rangelands Archives, 9(6):257-259.
Moktan, M.R., Norbu, L., Nirola, H., Dukpa, K., Rai, T.B., and Dorji, R. (2008). Ecological and Social As-pects of Transhumant Herding in Bhutan. Mountain Research and Development, 28(1):41-48.
Mueller-Dombois, D. and Ellenberg, D. (1974). Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology. Wiley, New York.
National Biodiversity Centre. (2014). National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan of Bhutan, 2014. National Biodiversity Centre, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan.
National Soil Service Center. (2011). Land Covers Assessment Map, 2010. Ministry of Agriculture and For-ests, RGoB, Thimphu.
Noltie, H.J. (1994). Flora of Bhutan (Vol. 3 Part 1). Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
Noltie, H.J. (2000). Flora of Bhutan: Grasses of Bhutan (Vol. 3 Part 2). Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
Parker, C. (1992). Weeds of Bhutan. National Plant Protection Centre Simtokha, Thimphu.
Rawat, G.S. (1998). Temperate and Alpine Grasslands of the Himalaya: Ecology and Conservation. Parks, 8(3):27-36.
Roder, W., Wangdi, K., Gyamtsho, P. and Wangdi, K. (1998). Feed and Fodder Research and Development in Bhutan, RNR-RC Jakar, Special Publication No, 1.
Roder, W. (2002). Grazing Management of Temperate Grassland and Fallows. Journal of Bhutan Studies, 7:44-60.[0368:CGITCF]2.0.CO;2.
Roder, W., Gratzer, G., and Wangdi, K. (2002). Cattle Grazing in the Conifer Forests of Bhutan. Mountain Research and Development, 22(4):368-374.[0368:cgitcf];2.
Salick, J., Fang, Z., and Byg, A. (2009). Eastern Himalayan Alpine Plant Ecology, Tibetan Ethnobotany, and Climate Change. Global Environmental Change, 19(2):147-155.
Samson, F., and Knopf, F. (1994). Prairie Conservation in North America. BioScience, 44(6): 418-421.
Stapleton, C.M.A. (1991). A Morphological Investigation of some Himalayan Bamboos with an Enumeration of Taxa in Nepal and Bhutan. Doctoral Thesis, University of Aberdeen.
Stapleton, C.M.A. (1994a). The Bamboos of Nepal and Bhutan. Part I: Bambusa, Dendrocalamus, Melocanna, Cephalostachyum, Teinostachyum, and Pseudostachyum (Gramineae: Poaceae, Bambusoideae). Edinburgh Journal of Botany, 51(01):1-32.
Stapleton, C.M.A. (1994b). The Bamboos of Nepal and Bhutan. Part II: Arundinaria, Thamnocalamus, Borin-da, and Yushania (Gramineae: Poaceae, Bambusoideae). Edinburgh Journal of Botany, 51(02):275-295.
Stapleton, C.M.A. (1994c). The Bamboos of Nepal and Bhutan. Part III: Drepanostachyum, Himalayacalamus, Ampelocalamus, Neomicrocalamus and Chimonobambusa (Gramineae: Poaceae, Bambusoideae). Edin-burgh Journal of Botany, 51(03):301-330.
Stohlgren, T.J. (1994). Planning long-term Vegetation Studies at Landscape Scales, pp.209-241.In T.M. Pow-ell & J.H. Steele, eds. Ecological Time Series. Chapman & Hall, New York.
Stohlgren, T.J., Faulkner, M.B., and Schell, L.D. (1995). A Modified-Whittaker Nested Vegetation Sampling Method. Vegetation, 117(2):113-121.
Stohlgren, T.J. Chong, G.W. & Schell, L.D. (1997). Rapid Assessment of Plant Diversity Patterns: a Method-ology for Landscapes. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 48(1):25-43.
Taft, J.B., Phillippe, L.R., Dietrich, C.H., and Robertson, K.R. (2011). Grassland Composition, Structure, and Diversity Patterns along Major Environmental Gradients in the Central Tien Shan. Plant Ecol Plant Ecolo-gy, 212(8):1349-1361. http://doi:10.1007/s11258-011-9911-5.
Tobgay, K. (2013). Structure and Floristic Composition of the Cool Broad-leaved Forest along the Altitudinal Gradient, Lungchozeykha to Lumitsawa, Western-Central Bhutan. BSc. Thesis, Dolphin (P.G), Institute of Bio-Medical and Natural Sciences, Dehradun.
Tsuchidia, K. (1987). Grassland Vegetation and Succession in Centreal Bhutan. In Life Zone Ecology of the Bhutan Himalaya, Oshawa, M, eds. pp.73-116. Laboratory of Ecology, Chiba University, Chiba.
Wangchuk, K., Gyaltshen, T., Yonten, T., Nirola, H., and Tshering, N. (2013). Shrubland or Pasture? Restora-tion of Degraded Meadows in the Mountains of Bhutan. Mountain Research and Development, 33(2):161-169.
Wangda, P. and Ohsawa, M. (2006). Forest Pattern Analysis along the Topographic Climatic Gradient of the Dry West and Humid Slopes of Dochula, Western Bhutan. Journal of RNR Bhutan, 2(1):1-17.