The Indus Valley Desert, like the larger Thar Desert, is one of the most inhospitable ecoregions in the Indo-Pacific region. Biodiversity conservation should focus on the large mammals and birds of the region.
Location and General Description
This arid ecoregion is located in Pakistan's Indus Valley. The foothills of the Glaiman Range and the Chenab River define its western and eastern limits, respectively.
The extreme annual temperature variations can range from near-freezing in the winter to highs of more than 45 oC during the summer. Annual rainfall averages from 640 to 760 millimeters, which is slightly more than in the Thar Desert.
The vegetation is greatly influenced by the extreme climatic regime. The desert thorn scrub vegetation is characterized by isolated clumps of Prosopis spp., Salvadora oleoides and Caparis spp., and taller thorn-scrub forests of Acacia spp., Tamarix spp., Albizzia lebbek, and Morus alba.
This desert ecoregion is not high in richness or endemism, but it does harbor a few large vertebrates that can serve as focal species for conservation. These include the wolf (Canis lupus), hyena (Hyaena hyaena), caracal (Felis caracal), leopard (Panthera pardus), and Punjab urial (Ovis orientalis punjabensis). The overall mammal fauna consists of thirty-two species, but none are endemic to the ecoregion.
Bird richness is higher, with 190 species, but none are considered endemic species.
Types and Severity of Threats
|Table 1. WCMC (1997) Protected Areas that Overlap with the Ecoregion.|
|Protected Area||Area (km2) ||IUCN Category |
|Ecoregion numbers of protected areas that overlap with additional ecoregions are listed in brac|
Justification of Ecoregion Delineation
MacKinnon placed the deserts of northwestern India and Pakistan into four subunits (I3a-d). We reclassified these subunits into eight ecoregions based on the extent of distinctive habitat of regional spatial scales. Using MacKinnon's biounit framework and his digital map of original habitat, we delineated the desert habitat in subunit I3c as the Indus Valley Desert. Both the Rann of Kutch seasonal salt marsh and the Indus Valley Desert lie within Udvardy's Thar Desert biogeographic province.
Additional Information on this Ecoregion
- For a shorter summary of this entry, see the WWF WildWorld profile of this ecoregion.
- To see the species that live in this ecoregion, including images and threat levels, see the WWF Wildfinder description of this ecoregion.
- World Wildlife Fund Homepage
- Grewal, B. (ed.), 1992. Insight guides: Indian wildlife. Singapore: APA Publications.
- MacKinnon, J., 1997. Protected areas systems review of the Indo-Malayan realm. Canterbury, UK: The Asian Bureau for Conservation (ABC) and The World Conservation Monitoring Center (WCMC)/ World Bank Publication. ISBN: 2880326095
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