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Abstract and Figures

Myristica swamps are tree-covered wetlands within the evergreen forests of the Western Ghats, India. Even with their little-known biota, the swamps are virtually a live museum that is of great interest to biologists. The swamps harbour several rare-relic floristic and faunal taxa, comprising many endemic and threatened species. Most of the plant species in the swamp are highly restricted in their distribution and have several structural and physiological modifications. These swamps are one of the most unique and primeval ecosystems of the Western Ghats. They once formed a large hydrological network all along the Western Ghats, but due to increased human pressure, these now exist as small, isolated pockets and are one of the most threatened ecosystems in India. The presumed widespread loss of Myristica swamps and other perennial freshwater swamps calls for intensive research on the ecosystem services provided by these swamps, their landscape value and the function they play in watershed dynamics. Swamps are primarily drained for areca gardens and paddy fields. The swamps of the Western Ghats are threatened with extinction, yet scientists know little about them. Studies on flora and faunal diversity of these swamps exist, but the research gaps are notable when it comes to the hydrology, soil studies, and ecosystem services provided by these swamps. Further research is needed on these three topics in order to provide a comprehensive understanding of the abiotic factors governing swamps and to formulate a rationale for their preservation. There is also a lack of research on the potential impacts of climate change and population growth on these swamps. This review highlights the importance of these freshwater swamps, their ecology and prior research on them, and focuses on the need for conservation initiatives to save the last few swamps.
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A review of research and conservation of Myristica swamps,
a threatened freshwater swamp of the Western Ghats, India
Priya Ranganathan .G. Ravikanth .N. A. Aravind
Received: 4 May 2020 / Accepted: 6 August 2021 / Published online: 16 August 2021
ÓThe Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V. 2021
Abstract Myristica swamps are tree-covered wet-
lands within the evergreen forests of the Western
Ghats, India. Even with their little-known biota, the
swamps are virtually a live museum that is of great
interest to biologists. The swamps harbour several
rare-relic floristic and faunal taxa, comprising many
endemic and threatened species. Most of the plant
species in the swamp are highly restricted in their
distribution and have several structural and physio-
logical modifications. These swamps are one of the
most unique and primeval ecosystems of the Western
Ghats. They once formed a large hydrological network
all along the Western Ghats, but due to increased
human pressure, these now exist as small, isolated
pockets and are one of the most threatened ecosystems
in India. The presumed widespread loss of Myristica
swamps and other perennial freshwater swamps calls
for intensive research on the ecosystem services
provided by these swamps, their landscape value and
the function they play in watershed dynamics.
Swamps are primarily drained for areca gardens and
paddy fields. The swamps of the Western Ghats are
threatened with extinction, yet scientists know little
about them. Studies on flora and faunal diversity of
these swamps exist, but the research gaps are
notable when it comes to the hydrology, soil studies,
and ecosystem services provided by these swamps.
Further research is needed on these three topics in
order to provide a comprehensive understanding of the
abiotic factors governing swamps and to formulate a
rationale for their preservation. There is also a lack of
research on the potential impacts of climate change
and population growth on these swamps. This review
highlights the importance of these freshwater swamps,
their ecology and prior research on them, and focuses
on the need for conservation initiatives to save the last
few swamps.
Keywords Relic forests Biodiversity hotspot
Wetland Evergreen forests Refugia Conservation
Introduction
Wetlands are ecosystems spanning land and water,
characterized by waterlogged soils, aquatic
Supplementary Information The online version contains
supplementary material available at https://doi.org/10.1007/
s11273-021-09825-5.
P. Ranganathan G. Ravikanth N. A. Aravind (&)
Suri Sehgal Center for Biodiversity and Conservation,
Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the
Environment (ATREE), Royal Enclave, Srirampura,
Jakkur PO, Bengaluru 560064, India
e-mail: aravind@atree.org
N. A. Aravind
Yenepoya Research Centre, Yenepoya (Deemed to be
University), University Road, Derlakatte,
Mangalore 575018, India
123
Wetlands Ecol Manage (2022) 30:171–189
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11273-021-09825-5(0123456789().,-volV)(0123456789().,-volV)
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Myristica fragrans is a fragrant tree, known for its commercial spicy products, namely, the nutmeg, mace, and essential oil, which are predominantly used in flavor, fragrance, and pharmaceutical industries. Being one of the popular spices in the culinary sector, the plant products are traditionally used in folk medicines for treating various human ailments. Its therapeutic potentials include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, chemopreventive, anti-obesity, antiangiogenic, neuroprotective, analgesic, antithrombotic, antifeedant, hepatoprotective, insecticidal, aphrodisiac, radioprotective properties, and many more. Also, the plant is noted for its hallucinogenic or narcotic-like properties. The clinical evidences have suggested about the intoxication, poisonings, and adverse effects of M. fragrans. The present chapter provides a comprehensive information on the botanical, pharmacological, and toxicological aspects of M. fragrans products.