Bhutan

Trees and forests of continental Asia

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Neil
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Re: Bhutan

Post by Neil » Fri Jan 13, 2012 8:54 pm

Kouta Räsänen wrote:Neil,

Great posts! Can you estimate how tall those Q. semicarpifolia trees are? And could you say something about the climate? The trees in your photos have so much epiphytic moss that the precipitation must be fairly high.

Kouta
hi Kouta,

ahh, you do not want my tree height estimates these days. i was once ok at it, but once i started focusing on older forests, my sense of tree height weakened significantly. most older forests here in the east grow on less productive sites. so, once i spent a significant amount of time, 30-37 m tall trees seemed towering to me. i could guess, but i would be way wrong. they seemed to be the tallest trees i saw on the trip. some spruce along a stream bottom were pretty tall, too.

i imagine the climate there is quite wet. the forest pictured is around 3000 m. Thimphu gets roughly 1,427 mm/yr (56"), but is 800 m lower. So, I would expect the area with the oaks to catch more rain than Thimphu, especially as the monsoon rises out of the Indian Plains about 100 km to the south [or less]: http://g.co/maps/e4yjj. Also, is it likely falls firmly in the cool temperate zone. Pictures were just posted of Dochula in snow http://sogyeltobgyel.blogspot.com/2012/ ... wfall.html

sorry for being shy about tree height. my estimate of tall would make most NTS laugh.

neil

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KoutaR
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Re: Bhutan

Post by KoutaR » Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:55 am

Neil,

Thanks! Did you see Cupressus cashmeriana on your trip?

Kouta

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Neil
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Re: Bhutan

Post by Neil » Sun Jan 15, 2012 9:36 am

Hi Kouta,

I might have, but it was not consciously sought out. Again, I was there for broadleaf species and we spent most time in the broadleaf zone of southern Bhuta. We did see a Cryptomeria japonica plantation on the way south. They were unsure how to handle it as it matured. The understory seemed fairly empty.

neil

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M.W.Taylor
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Re: Bhutan

Post by M.W.Taylor » Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:26 pm

What about the reported 312' Bhutan cypress ?

http://www.monumentaltrees.com/en/photos/4311/

Is this tree for real ? If yes it would be the tallest known tree in Asia.

Michael Taylor

WNTS VP
www.landmarktrees.net

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KoutaR
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Re: Bhutan

Post by KoutaR » Sat Jan 28, 2012 7:58 am

Michael,

The tree in the Monumentaltrees page, you linked, is estimated to be only 60 m tall, so I suppose you mean a report mentioned in Wikipedia and many other sites claiming C. cashmeriana is up to 95 m. The height comes from Aljos Farjon's publications "A Monograph of Cupressaceae and Sciadopitys" and "A Natural History of Conifers". The first book states: "Description: Tree to 85-95 m (D. B. Gurung & S. Miehe, unpubl. data), ..., at least to 3.5 m diam. above the buttress..." and "Ecology: A very large emergent in evergreen angiosperm forest dominated by Quercus,..."

The second book reveals a bit more. You can read it in Google books:

http://books.google.com/books?id=ZrNRSf ... rs&f=false

If the link doesn't work, go to books.google.com and search with the name of the book.

See page 151.

So, the tree seems to exist, but the measurement is "crude". Sabine Miehe is a German scientist who has written numerous papers on Central Asia with his husband (?) Georg Miehe. They have, for example, found the highest treeline, reported here:

http://www.bioone.org/doi/pdf/10.1659/mrd.0792

I don't find Sabine's contact information, but Georg's e-mail address is here:

http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb19/personal ... oren/miehe

Why wouldn't you write him?

Perhaps we (or BVP, as Farjon suggests) should make a measuring trip to Bhutan if Miehe reveals the location and if permits and guides can be arranged.

Kouta

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Neil
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Re: Bhutan

Post by Neil » Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:01 am

Hi all,

Great information, Kouta - thanks!

I think I heard about this tree while in Bhutan, but we never made it to that part of the country.

neil

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KoutaR
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Re: Bhutan

Post by KoutaR » Sun Jan 29, 2012 4:12 pm

Neil,

Do you think that a measuring trip to Bhutan would be possible? I have read travelling in Bhutan is rather difficult.

Another place, somebody should check sometimes, is lower montane zone in Papua New Guinea. Gray measured there an Araucaria hunsteinii 88.9 meters tall in 1941. There are some descriptions in "Tropical Rain Forests of the Far East" by Whitmore and "Ecology of the Southern Conifers" edited by Enright & Hill. In the latter, there is a photo labelled "Stand of mature Araucaria hunsteinii comprised of emergents to 80 m in height..."

Kouta

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Neil
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Re: Bhutan

Post by Neil » Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:17 am

hi Kouta,

I would think a measuring trip would be possible. However, access into Bhutan is limited. Ideally you could pair up with natural resource managers in the kingdom's government to conduct this research. Bhutan just increased its daily fee to $250 USD per day to visit Bhutan. And, one needs to have an official host while in-country. It is possible, but the best way is to work with the Bhutanese government.

neil

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Neil
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Re: Bhutan

Post by Neil » Fri Feb 10, 2012 7:49 am

on to Chhukha!

Hi again. I am picking up my travels through Bhutan with a short stop in the Chhukha area. We were traveling from Thimphu to Gedu to begin a few days of field work in the cool temperate broadleaf forests of southern Bhutan - http://g.co/maps/7mdgd The travel took a long time - several hours. Google underestimates travel time. But, we hit a traffic jam at one pinch point. The road was being re-surfaced in a narrow area and was shut down for about two hours. Luckily, we arrived about 1 hour into the stoppage.

RoadPavingTrafficJamOppValleyRoad.jpg
The main road on the opposite side of the valley from the pinch-point traffic jam. Do you see the tractor trailer?

RoadPavingTrafficJamUpperVilliage.jpg
Traffic jam!

We stopped for lunch north of Chhukha and soon after started noticing older looking forest with a rough canopy surface. It was time to get out of the car and see what was shaking in these Bhutanese forests!
RoadWorkersVilliageRidgeEmergentTrees.jpg
Emergent trees and a rough canopy surface.


I needed to stay close my hosts for this portion of the trip. The combination of the diversity of the forest, similarity in leaves and bark, and my general unfamiliarity of the species made the forest look quite homogeneous at first. Differences between the leaves and bark were so subtle. After a few minutes and having some memories of Sichuan forests come back, I could start to pick out individual species. What was most impressive in this portion of the forest were the large Castanopsis. Most of what I saw were Castanopsis hystrix.
LargeCastinopsisDrsKinleyPurna.jpg
a large Castanopsis with Drs. Purna and Kinley for scale.



I became more fascinated by the Lithocarpus because their ring structure is more promising for tree ring purposes. So, during this short visit, I apparently mostly took pictures of these trees.
LithocarpusLeaves.jpg
Castanopsis leaves


LithocarpusBarkClose.jpg
Castanopsis bark


LithocarpusUpTrunk.jpg
looking up into a Castanopsis canopy


To leave this forest, we exited through the road worker's village. It gave us the first hand reality of the lives of people making the twisty and treacherous roads of Bhutan as it continues to develop.
RoadWorkersVilliagePurnaKuenzang.jpg
exiting the road worker's village.


While there was an isolated village across the valley from this forest, the opposing side of the valley was pure, relatively untouched forest. My hosts repeatedly called it old-growth. I repeatedly wished I could simply fly over the valley to explore that forest. It looked to be in a rather unbroken state with all kinds of wildness. This thought was partially supported a few weeks ago when it was announced that a sighting of a giant panda was made in this area http://www.kuenselonline.com/2011/?p=25866 This wasn't the rarest animal whose track I might have crossed. But, that will have to wait for another post. For now, pictures of the unbroken forest with a village carved out of one pice of it.
ValleyVilliage.jpg
'Unbroken' Valley Village


RoadWorkersVilliageRidgeSunbeams1.jpg
the forest above the Valley Village


BhutanCoolTemperateOGridgeValleyCanopyGap.jpg
close up of old-growth forest - gap dynamics!


BhutanCoolTemperateOGridge.jpg
The broad, complex, unbroken old-growth forest across the valley.

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Neil
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Re: Bhutan

Post by Neil » Tue Feb 14, 2012 7:15 am

hi All,

I wrote to a Bhutanese botanist to get clarification on what I called Lithocarpus in the prior post. My guides were not sure of the exact species. To my surprise, the 'Lithocarpus' is actually Castanopsis. And, they think it is 'most probably' Castanopsis indica. These experiences suggest that the botany in Bhutan is difficult. I sampled a distinctive Acer to the north of Thimphu. When I sent pictures of this Acer to this same botanist, they indicated that they didn't have a record for that species in that area. For this, botanizing here in future posts will be mostly limited to genus.

neil

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