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Rainfall and Elevation Influence the Local-Scale Distribution of Tree Community in the Southern Region of Western Ghats Biodiversity Hotspot (India)
The present study characterises the tree communities with respect to topographic and climatic variables and identifies the most important environmental correlate of species richness in the southern region of Western Ghats Biodiversity Hotspot, India. Digitally derived environmental variables in combination with tree species richness information were analysed using Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) to characterise the communities. Multiple regression technique based on stepwise backward elimination was used to identify the most important environment correlate of species richness. Canonical correspondence analysis results in six major tree communities along the first and second axes. Rainfall is the dominant environmental gradient influencing vegetation patterns on the first CCA axis while elevation showed the highest correlation with the second CCA axis. Backward elimination regression technique yielded rainfall as the most important environmental correlate of species richness. Results were in agreement with the observations in the Neotropics that rainier areas maintain high species diversity.