Northeast India-Myanmar pine forests

Introduction

The Northeast India-Myanmar Pine Forests ecoregion is one of only four tropical or subtropical conifer forest ecoregions in the Indo-Pacific region. All of these ecoregions contain less biodiversity than the forests that surround them. However, they contain processes and species unique to these ecosystems. This ecoregion contains moderate levels of biodiversity but remains largely intact, providing opportunities to conserve and protect this ecoregion's biodiversity into the future.

Location and General Description

caption Satellite view of the pine forests in the northern Naga Hills, India. (Photograph by USGS)

These forests are found in the north-south Burmese-Java Arc. The Arc is formed by the parallel folded mountain ranges that culminate in the Himalayas in the north. Moving south are the mountain ranges of Patkoi, Lushai Hills, Naga Hills, Manipur, and the Chin Hills. The outer southwestern fringe of mountain ranges forming the Arc is the Arakan Yomas, the southern continuation of the folded mountain ranges branching off from the Himalayas. Geologically the ecoregion has grey and black slates. Dark-colored serpentine and gabbro also are found interstratified within the shales.

The pine forest is found between 1,500 and 2,500 meters (m). Several pine species occur. In the lower elevations P. merkusii is the dominant species, occasionally associated with dipterocarps. Pinus insularis and Pinus excelsa are found at higher altitudes. These species often are associated with numerous broadleaf species such as Tsuga, Picea, Acer, and Quercus. Rhododendron, Ilex, Prunus, and Arundinaria bamboo occur in the understory.

Biodiversity Features

In the late 1950s the Burma Wildlife Survey team found few species except sambar (Cervus unicolor), barking deer (Muntiacus muntjac), wild boar (Sus scrofa), and Asiatic black bear (Selenarctos thibetanus) in this region. Serow (Capricornis sumatrensis) was plentiful. Large squirrel (Rafuta species), brown squirrel, small chipmunk, and civet also occur there. The dearth of wildlife was caused by deforestation from extensive shifting cultivation resulting in the barren hillsides. There are no endemic mammals in this ecoregion.

The avifauna is also less diverse than the surrounding ecoregions. According to the Burma Wildlife Survey, conducted in the late 1950s, several distinctive birds were found in the region. These include the silver-breasted broadbill (Serilophus lunatus), white-naped yuhina (Yuhina bakeri), rufous-vented tit (Parus rubidiventris saramatii), stripe-throated yuhina (Yuhina gularis), babblers (Timaliidae), grey-sided laughingthrush (Garrulax caerulatus), rufous-chinned laughingthrush (Garrulax rufogularis), striated laughingthrush (Garrulax striatus), cochoa (Cochoa spp.), beautiful nuthatch (Sitta formosa), sultan tit (Melanochlora sultana), leafbird (Chloropsis spp.), and white-browed fulvetta (Alcippe vinipectus). Shelduck and bare-headed geese were seen in tens and hundreds along the Chindwin River. Two additional laughingthrush species are considered near endemics (Table 1). More recent information on the status of the region's wildlife is not known.

Table 1. Endemic and Near-Endemic Bird Species.
Family Common Name Species
Timaliidae Striped laughingthrush Garrulax virgatus
Timaliidae Brown-capped laughingthrush Garrulax austeni

Current Status

Until now this ecoregion has remained largely intact because there has been little commercial forestry. Its wildlife has also been spared from commercial wildlife hunting or poaching. Local people use the forest for cooking and building materials and hunt wildlife for food. However, only one small protected area exists in this ecoregion, and its contribution to wildlife protection is minimal (Table 2).

Table 2. WCMC (1997) Protected Areas That Overlap with the Ecoregion.
Protected Area Area (km2) IUCN Category
Fakim 4 IV

Types and Severity of Threats

The primary threat to the integrity of this habitat is from shifting cultivation. This practice denudes the hillsides of trees, increases erosion and sedimentation of rivers, and deprives wildlife of their habitats.

Justification of Ecoregion Delineation

The westernmost subunit (09c) represents a transition zone between the Indian Subcontinent and Indochina bioregions and is made up of forest formations belonging to the tropical moist forests biome. We included the montane forests of the rugged and highly dissected Chin Hills and Arakan Yomas in a distinct ecoregion: Chin Hills-Arakan Yoma Montane Rain Forests. The lower-elevation tropical evergreen moist forests were included in the Mizoram-Manipur-Kachin Rain Forests. The pine forests were placed in the Northeast India-Myanmar Pine Forests.

This region does not correspond well to Udvardy's biogeographic provinces. The Myanmar Coastal Rain Forests cover Udvardy's Burman rain forest, southwestern portion of the Thai monsoon forest, and western portion of the Indochinese rain forest. The Irrawaddy Moist Deciduous Forests, Irrawaddy Dry Forests, Chin Hills-Arakan Yoma Montane Rain Forests, Northeast India-Myanmar Pine Forests, and Mizoram-Manipur-Kachin Rain Forests roughly correspond to Udvardy's Burman rain forest and Burma monsoon forest.

Additional Information on this Ecoregion



Disclaimer: This article is taken wholly from, or contains information that was originally published by, the World Wildlife Fund. Topic editors and authors for the Encyclopedia of Earth may have edited its content or added new information. The use of information from the World Wildlife Fund should not be construed as support for or endorsement by that organization for any new information added by EoE personnel, or for any editing of the original content.

Glossary

Citation

Fund, W. (2008). Northeast India-Myanmar pine forests. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/154892

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