Ecology and population structure of a terrestrial mycoheterotrophic orchid, Aphyllorchis montana Rchb.f. (Orchidaceae) in Soppinabetta forests of the Western Ghats, India

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P.A. Sinu
N. Sinu
K. Chandrashekara


While conducting a survey in the Western Ghats, we recently came across several populations of a mycohetertrophic orchid species, Aphyllorchis montana Rchb.f. during our ongoing ecological research in Soppinabetta forests (SBF) of Chikmagalur District in the central Western Ghats. The paper provides the details on the population structure and ecology of the species in SBFs of Sringeri. Fourteen different SBFs were surveyed to record the orchid shoots and clumps during the monsoon months from June-October in 2007 and 2008. Orchid clumps were located in five SBFs that were separated by a distance of 6 and 20 km from each other. Orchid clumps were located in the SBFs having either one of the three dipterocarp plant species, Hopea ponga (Dennst.) Mabb., Hopea parviflora Bedd. and Vateria indica L., as a dominant canopy tree. The local-scale leaf litter study showed that the leaf litter composition in the near vicinity of orchid clumps was clearly dominated by either of the above-mentioned species. This indicates that the associated host mycorrhizal fungi may be specific to the dipterocarpacean tree species. The possible reasons for the data deficient status of the species are discussed.

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