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Diversity in Indian Hornworts (Bryophyta) a State of the Art Report


The homworts, comprising a small, phylogenetically significant group of plants, are represented in India by 5 genera, viz. Anthoceros L. emend. Prosk., Folioceros Bharad. (Anthocerotaceae); Notothylas Sull. (Notothylaceae); Megaceros Campb. and Phaeoceros Prosk. (Phaeocerotaceae), 35 species and 2 subspecies. Anthocerotaceae and Phaeocerotaceae show greater manifestation in the Himalayas, whereas the Western ghats abound in maximum members of Notothylaceae. Fifty eight percent (or 21 species) of the total Indian homworts are endemic, of which only Anthoceros bharadwajii Udar et Asthana, A. erectux Kash. and Notothylas himalayensis Udar et Singh have an extended range of distribution in more than one bryogeographical territories. The high incidence of primitive Notothylas taxa coupled with the highest endemism encountered in the Western ghats makes this region Cradle ot the genus. The other phytogeographical elements discernible amongst Indian homworts are : Cosmopolitan (4), Disjuncts (4) and Eastern Asiatics (7). The rich and phytogeographically unique homwort flora of its own, notwithstanding, about 28% of the Indian anthocerotes could never be located again since their original collection. Certain biotic influences, on the other hand, are threatening a tew other species of their survival. The paper epitomizes the causes of threats and rarity of such taxa and discusses the strategies to salvage the situation.


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