J. Inst. Agric. Anim. Sci.

30:143-149 (2009)

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Research Article RECIPROCAL RELATION BETWEEN POPULATION AND ENVIRONMENT: INNOVATIONS ON FLORA DATA COLLECTION D. R. Dangol Institute for Social and Environmental Research Fulbari, Chitwan, Neppal E-mail: dharmadangol@hotmail.com ABSTRACT
In recent years, social and natural scientists have gained interest in understanding reciprocal relations between human populations and the environment. Research methods have been developed for investigating the secrets of interations of human and environment. This paper describes the flora data collection methods used in a longitudinal research project “Reciprocal Relation Between Population and the Environment” and highlights how the research sites were selected, how the research plots were designed in each site and how the qualitative and quantitative data of flora found in each research plot were recorded. This paper also discusses how the flora data can be linked with sociodemographic data and how the data can be used to unfold the effect of human activities on flora diversity and/or the effect of flora on the life of the human population in the study area. Key words: Human population, research methods, data analysis, longitudinal research, research design.

INTRODUCTION We can see tremendous interest of both natural as well as social scientists in the investigation of relationships between human populations and the environment (Subedi, 2000; Mathema, 2000). Each school of scientists works separately and develops the methodology for their purposes. As a result, ecologists give more attention to plants or animals or environment and less to human population (see Duwadi et al., 2002; Shrestha et al., 2002). Social scientists give more attention to human dimensions and work out and develop their methodologies (for example, Dahal, 2000; K.C., 1998). It is felt important to work together in collaborative research so that the secrets of the interrelationship between population and environment can be unfolded. To fill up the gap, we develop a longitudinal research project to study reciprocal relations between population and the environment. For this study we work together and develop methodology. In this paper, I attempt to highlight on (1) location of our research sites and plots, (2) design of research plots, and (3) data sets we collected. I also try to give appropriate examples of our methods. Location of Research Sites and Plots We define a research plot as a 10 × 10 m2 stratified fashion in the forests, grasslands of Chitwan National Park and common lands decided on the basis of 1992 aerial map. The research plots were confined in the different sites (Blocks), in the Western Chitwan Valley of lowland Nepal. Forest Block A To the east of the study site lies the Tikauli/Barandavar Jungle which extends about 13 km south of the East-West Highway. The entire research plots of this Block A in the Tikauli Jungle are located within this strip of forest. Each set of plots is approximately 1,250 m (4,100 ft) wide, running inward from the edge of the forest to the center. The area within which the 62 plots are located is the Sampling Frame of Forest Block A. The research plots are based on Plot Sampling Method. The plots are designated as A0101, A0102, A0103, A0104, A0105. The Sampling Frame of Forest Block A consists of twelve rows, the first 11 rows with 5 research plots in each row and 12th one with only 3 research plots. The remaining four plots (A0P08, A0P88 A0P09 A0P99) were selected, 2 from left side and 2 from right side of the Khageri Irrigation Canal.

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a. In each row the research plots were spaced at an interval of 250 m (820 ft). This is a standard design. b. The bearing between every two research plots was set at 140 degrees (note that this bearing is calculated using the East-West Highway as reference point). c. The distance between each row of plots was 1 km. d. The 12 rows of plots began 250 m due south from the East-West Highway crossing of the Narayani Irrigation Canal which runs along the edge of the forest. Forest Block B To the south of the Study Site lies the Chitwan National Park (south of the Rapti river). Altogether 44 research plots were identified from the Forest Block B. The Sampling Frame of the Forest Block B in the National Park starts from the Jarneli Post in the east and goes up to the confluence of the Reu Khola and Rapti river to the west. Within this area are found grassland, swamps and forest. A total of 10 research plots were identified from the four blocks of grasslands that fall within the sampling frame. The remaining 34 research plots are selected from the forest of the Chitwan National Park. The sampling frame of Forest Block B had the following design: a. There were seventeen rows with only two research plots (e.g. B0101, B0102; B1701, B1702) in each row. b. Within each row the first research plot was located 250 m inwards and due south from the forest edge along the Rapti River. The second research plot was located 1 km due south from the first research plot. c. Research plots (BG0101) in the grasslands have been identified on the basis of size only. 2.3. Forest Block C To the north of the Study Site, along the left bank of the Narayani River there are different patches of forest. Due to the comparatively small size and irregular shapes of these forests, research plots have not been identified according to the Plot Sampling Method. Still the research plots have been proportionally distributed in these different patches. For the Forest Block C, the inverted "W" pattern has been adopted for the identification of the plots. Collectively, these different patches of forest form the Forest Block C from where 21 research plots (C101, C102, C103, C104 for Nagarban) were identified as shown below: The distribution of the research plots within Forest Block C was as follows: 1. Nagar ban 4 research plots Near Narayanghat City 2. Jhanjhane ko ban 5 research plots Near Mangalpur 3. Gobreni or Majhuwa ko ban 7 research plots Near Gunjanagar 4. Kalaban 5 research plots Near Gunjanagar Common lands A research plot in common lands is defined as 10 x 10 m2 randomly selected point in the common lands referred by sampled Neighborhood and identified by POPENV team. We have designed 138 research plots (CL101, CL102, CL103.and so on) in the common lands located in 48 Neighborhoods of the POPENV study. These plots represent different habitats such as Plantation areas, Flood affected area, Common grazing lands, Barandavar grazing and grass cutting area, School ground and airport area, Wetlands (Pokhari (pond) and Ghole areas), Roadways, and Canal ways. In these lands also, the sampling unit of 10 x 10 m2 was marked starting from the reference point, i.e. south-west corner moving 10 m each in clockwise direction due north, then east, south and west. Later three sampling units of 1 m2 were positioned diagonally from the southwest corner in each 10 x 10 quadrat to record the number and cover value of the plants growing in the common lands. In the roadways and canal ways, 1 x 25 m plots were made and in each plot, 3 quadrats of 1 x 1 m were positioned, two at the two ends (between 2 and 3 m and 23 and 24 m) and one at the center.

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DESIGN OF THE RESEARCH PLOTS Materials required We used simple equipments for the present study as listed below: a. Measuring tapes (for plotting the quadrats). b. Compass and pedometer (for locating directions and measuring distances). c. Four straight sticks, each of one meter long (for making the quadrats of the 1x1 m2 quadrat). d. Sickle, iron pegs, ID Plate and long cords. e. Forest and Common land Plot Forms Locating research plots 1. First locate the plot on an aerial and/or traced map. Verify this location with the written direction provided. This forms the basis for locating the research plot in the forest. 2. While locating the plot make use of a compass and pedometer to verify the direction and to count the pace for measuring distance, respectively. Note that bearing in the forest of more than 30 m will prove difficult. So, be sure to take bearing within shorter distances only. 3. Once you are in the research plot, mark a tree and establish it as a South West (SW) corner of the research plot. This is the base tree. Mark the tree with corresponding plots ID. Plotting different sampling units Starting from SW corner (base tree) of the 10x10 m2 quadrat, move 2 m east and then 2 m due north. Mark this point. With this point at center, measure one meter of the southern border of the quadrat. The three other sides of this unit can be then easily plotted. This will be the first 1×1 m2 sample unit. For the second sample unit, use the northwest corner as the reference point, and measure 2m due east and then 2 m due south, and mark the plot in the same manner as the first. This is the second sample unit. Using the northeast corner as the reference point and working 2 m due west and then 2m due south can plot the third sample unit. The fourth sample unit, similarly, can be plotted by using the south east corner as reference point and then working 2 m due west and then 2 m due north. Make the fifth plot in the center of the 3×3 m2 quadrat. Figure 1 illustrates the outlines of the research plots in our study sites.

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(a) Research plot in the forests

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(b) Research plot in the grasslands of Chitwan National Park

J. Inst. Agric. Anim. Sci. 30:143-149 (2009)

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(c) Research plot in the common lands (eg. School ground)

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(d) Research plot in the common lands (eg. Canalways, roadways)
Figure 1. Outlines of research plots in forests (a), grasslands (b) and common lands (c and d)

Data Set Environmental data We recorded following data on environmental issues: 1. Plot type: level, gentle slope or steep slope 2. Plot direction: south facing, north facing, etc. 3. Soil color of the plot 4. Soil texture of the plot 5. Some of the important characteristics of the condition of the plot. For example, what was the surface description of the plot? (e.g., dry, swamp, etc.). Is the plot near a walking path, road or ghole? 6. Is there any evidence of the following having occurred at the forest plot location? a) Animal damage (Yes/No) b) Extreme damage by insects (Yes/No) c) Fire damage (Yes/No) d) Storm damage (Yes/No) e) Flooding (Yes/No) f) Tree falls (Yes/No) g) Dead trees at the plot (Yes/No) 7. Information on soil erosion at the forest plot location

No Yes-minor (surface vegetation +/or soil humus absent)
Yes-major (gullies, barren soils, etc.) 8. Tree crown cover in the plot

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Flora count data Once the various sample units have been marked and clearly plotted, we listed the plant species and counted their number for trees, woody climbers, herbaceous climbers, shrubs and herbs. The count data can be used to describe and analyze vegetation and flora to understand reciprocal relationships between plants, human population and the environment. The common tools used to express the ecological relationship include: density, frequency, abundance, cover, their relative values, summed dominance values and importance value index. These tools are not only useful for understanding the importance of plants in a particular ecosystem but also are important for illustrating and comparing flora change in time and space in the ecosystems. For more specific analysis of flora, we can use count data to compute species diversity, species similarity, community association, correlation coefficients, etc. For details on tools for vegetation description and analysis, please refer to Dangol (2001). Tree and Woody Climber Information: For each flora plot we gathered data on the number (count) and cover of each species from a 10 x 10 meter plot. Shrub, Sapling (of woody plants), and Herbaceous Climber Information: For each flora plot we gathered data on shrubs, saplings (of woody plants), and herbaceous climbers from a 3 x 3 meter plot found at the center of the larger 10 x 10 meter plot. In each plot we gathered information on the number (count) and cover of each species. Ground Cover and Seedling Information: For each flora plot on forests and grasslands of National Park we gathered data on grasses and herbs from FIVE 1 x 1 m plots within the larger 10 x 10 meter plot. In each plot we gathered information on the number (count) of each species and their ground coverage. For each flora plot on common land we gathered information on the number (count) of each species and their ground coverage of grasses and herbs from THREE 1 x 1 m plots within the larger 10 x 10 meter plot. Plant cover-abundance data For the ground flora (herbs encountering in 1 x 1 m2 in each plot size), we also estimated coverabundance value (scales) developed by Braun-Blanquat. The scales are given below: "r"= individual species; cover very small. "+"= sparsely or very sparsely present; cover very small. "1"= plentiful but of small cover value. "2"= very numerous, or covering at least 1/20 (5%) of the study area. "3"= any number of individuals covering ¼ (25% to ½ (50%) of the area "4"= any number of individuals covering ½ (50%) to ¾ (75%) of the area "5"= covering more than ¾ (>75%) of the area. The cover-abundance data of the each species of herbaceous plants can be used to classify vegetation of the study areas. Girth measurement We measured the circumferences of the trees at the height of 4.5 ft from the base with the help of measuring tapes for recording the girth of the largest and smallest trees of the particular species in 1996. We dropped the girth measurement in 2000. Height of the trees We estimated the height (m) of the trees of the research plots. If there were more than one, we recorded the height of one tallest tree and other shortest tree of the particular species. If there was only one tree, we estimated the height of the one. We dropped the estimation of height in 2000. Plant identification The research team collects the specimens of unknown plants encountered in the plot and submits to flora consultant for identification. All the collected specimens were mounted on standard sheets for future

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and housed in the Herbarium of the Department of Environmental Science, Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science, Tribhuvan University, Rampur, Chitwan, Nepal. Innovations in Methodology This study is unique in nature and designed to collect flora data from the environments of western Chitwan representing national forests, community forests, grasslands, common lands, etc. This study collects data in different time periods and aids in comparison of the plant species and their population change in time. This helps us to understand the floral situations on which human and livestock depend. In addition, data sets collected in different time periods and geographical locations can be linked with the demographic research taken in western Chitwan. In this way, this study is innovative and helpful to researchers, policy makers, and educators who can use the data to analyze the degree of relationship and as a base for further research, planning and formal and non-formal education. The plant data can be used as an indicator to understand human and environment relations. For example, relations between plant biodiversity and family formation can be understood. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grant # ROl-HD 33551), USA. I extend my sincere thanks to Prof. William G. Axinn (Principal Investigator) for his encouragement to write this paper using flora data, Dirgha Jibi Ghimire, Jennifer Barber, Kerry Richter, G. P. Shivakoti, S. A. Matthews, Prem Bhandari, Kishor Gajurel and Netra Chhetri for their advice during the sample design stages. I would also like to thank Alex Zvolleff for providing research map and editing earlier version of the manuscript. REFERENCES CITED Dahal, D. R. 2000. Demographic anthropology/social demography in Nepal: Overview and scope. Population and Development in Nepal. 7:1-13. Dangol, D. R. 2001. Measures for vegetation description and analysis. Population and Ecology Research Laboratory, Rampur, Chitwan. Duwadee, N. P. S., R. P. Chaudhary, V. N. P. Gupta and O. R. Vetaas. 2002. Species diversity of Shorea robusta forest in lower Arun River Basin of Makalu Barun National Park, Nepal. Pp. 56-64. In: R.P. Chaudhary, B.P. Subedi, O.R. Vetaas and T.H. Aase (Eds.). Vegetation and Society: Their Interactions in the Himalayas. Tribhuvan University, Nepal and University of Bergen, Norway. KC, B. K. 1998. Trends, patterns and implications of rural to urban migration, Central Department of Population Studies, Kathmandu. Mathema, K. B. 2000. Population and environment in Nepal: A quest for equilibrium. Nepal Population Journal. 9(8):123-129. Shrestha, K., R. P. Chaudhary, O. R. Vetass and V. N. P. Gupta. 2002. Quantitative analysis of Castanopsis hystrix forest in Arun Basin of Makalu Barun National Park, Eastern Nepal, pp. 65-72. In: R. P. Chaudhary, B. P. Subedi, O. R. Vetaas and T. H. Aase (eds.). Vegetation and Society: Their Interactions in the Himalayas. Tribhuvan University, Nepal and University of Bergen, Norway. Subedi, P. K. 2000. Population change and its impact on environment: Some issues. Nepal Population Journal. 9(8):113-122.

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