Prevalence of Tree Cavities and their Use byVertebrate Fauna in Forest Ecosystem of Dhirkot,AJ&KSajid Abbasi, Iftikhar Hussain, Tariq Mahmood,Maqsood Anwar and Muhammad RaisDepartment of Wildlife ManagementPMAS Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi
IntroductionIn forest ecosystems of Pakistan there are certain wildlifespecies i.e. bats, flying squirrels, rodents, birds and reptilesspecies use hollow bearing trees for nesting, breeding,foraging and roosting, mainly subtropical pine forest andmoist temperate forests (Robert, 1991-1992 and 1998).Although the tree hollows are the critical component offorest ecosystem, a little is known about the characteristics ofthese hollows, rather no report is available on such data fromthe wildlife related ecologies of Pakistan.The present study was designed as an initiative to carryout investigations on hollow bearing trees in the forestecology of Dhirkot, District Bagh, Azad Jammu and Kashmirwith the following objectives.
Objectives• To collect basic information on type, size,prevalence and distribution of hollowbearing trees in forest ecology of the study area.•To identify wildlife species associated with the treehollows to support their lives.
Study Site & SamplingThe study samplings were carried out at two observation sites(1 km2each) in a deciduous-mixed temperate-coniferous forestspreading over 10 km2located at 340 ˝ N; 730 34˝ E in theSanghar Bathara area,of district Dhirkot, A J& K
Observation Area-1Upper zone of study site dominated by Blue Pine(Pinus wallichiana)
Lower zone of study site dominated by Chir Pine Pinusroxburgii) at Sanghar Bathara, Dhirkot, AJ&KObservation Area-2
Definition: A cavity is defined as any completely excavated ornatural opening in a trees bole or limbs that could provideshelter to wildlife species. All the trees in 10 sampling plots at each study site wereobserved for presence of tree cavities. Where ever requiredbinoculars were used to aid the visual inspection of snagsand excavated openings from several different angles. Tree cavities in larger and older trees were observed byclimbing on tree trunk and large branches. Those trees that had a larger diameter and difficult toclimbed, were climbed by installing a locally made bambooladder at the base of the tree trunk to reach the upperbranches.
Data on following parameters were recorded: No. of cavities in each tree species. Condition of the cavity bearing trees either live or dead.The height of cavity entrance from ground (m). Position of the cavities (trunk or branches) Type of cavity (natural or excavated). Dimensions of cavity (i.e diameter of entrance and depth (cm)of cavities (wherever possible)