Ecological Niche Modelling using satellite data for assessing distribution of threatened species Ceropegia bulbosa Roxb.
Keywords: Ceropegia bulbosa, Density, Endemic, GIS, Remote sensing
Abstract. Ceropegia bulbosa Roxb. is a narrow endemic, tuberous twiner of Asclepiadaceae family. It is medicinally important: tubers are nutritive and edible, leaves are digestive and a cure for dysentery and diarrhea. Exploitation for its tubers and poor regeneration of this species has shrunk its distribution. In order to know its present status, we report here the results of its appraisal in Rajasthan, using remote sensing and ground truthing in the past five years (2009–14). A base map of C. bulbosa was prepared using Geographical Information System (GIS), open source software Quantum GIS, SAGA. The Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM) +Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), Global Digital Elevation Model (GDEM) Satellite Data were used in this study. ASTER and GDEM Data was clipped with district boundary and provided color range to get elevation information. A digital elevation model of Rajasthan physiography was developed from ASTER GDEM of 30-m resolution. GIS layers of Area of occurrences for C. bulbosa plant and elevation were created. This map along with topographic sheets of 1:50000 were used for field traversing and ground truthing as per GPS location inferred from map. Its geographic distribution was assessed using MaxEnt distribution modelling algorithm that employed 12 presence locality data, 19 bioclimatic variables, and elevation data. Results of this modelling predicted occurrence of C. bulbosa in the districts of Sirohi, Jalore, Barmer, Pali, Ajmer, Jhalawar, Dungarpur, Banswara, Baran, Kota, Bundi and Chittorgarh. Ground validation in these districts revealed its presence only at four places in three districts confirming its rarity. Analysis of dominance at their sites of occurrence revealed their poor populations and sub dominant status (RIV = 20–32) and very low density (2–12 plants per tenth ha).