A plant which was originally found in warmer regions of Uttar Pradesh has gradually migrated to higher elevations of 1,300 metres in the Himalayan regions in the last fifty years, indicating the impact of climate change, scientists have said.
"It appears that S Anthemifolia is responding to the changing climatic conditions and showing an uphill movement pattern. Studies on its habitat requirements and dispersal mechanisms therefore become important," researchers have said as they kept track on its migrating pattern.
Originally, a native of South America and Australia, Soliva anthemifolia, a diffuse, creeping, stoloniferous herb was reported for the first time in 1963 from Uttar Pradesh at an altitude of 630 metres is now observed in Palampur in Himachal Pradesh at an altitude of 1300 metres, they said.
And since Palampur has shown an increase of 0.6°C in temperature over the last three decades, ie 1978–2008 and is also a relatively wet place that receives substantial rainfall, both the factors are favourable for the mesic habitat-loving species of the warm regions.
Tracing the plant's dramatic growth movement, the experts noted that in 1966, its extended distribution northward into the Himalayan states was reported from Dehradun (now in Uttarakhand), where it was growing at an altitude of 640 metres.
In 1973, it was reported as new addition to the flora of Delhi. Later, its extension to Jammu, where the plant was collected from an altitude of 400–700 metres, was reported.
The plant was also reported from Rajasthan and Haryana. Soon after, the plant was observed growing along water channels at an altitude of more than 1000 metres in the Patti locality of Himachal Pradesh.
"It should be noted that the higher limit of its distribution in the Himalayas has been mentioned to be 1000 metres. Subsequently, the plant has now been observed in Palampur at an altitude of 1300 metres," said the team of researchers Sanjay Uniyal, Om Parkash and RD Singh, from a leading organisation, Institute of Himalayan Bioresource (CSIR) in Palampur.
"This area is frequently visited by us and we had also not encountered this plant in our earlier surveys, until the recent one," the authors noted in their study published in latest edition of Current Science journal.
Various studies have warned that the change in the length of growing season and their severity will dramatically affect food supply and potential for food security.