Comparison of Bioclimatic, NDVI and Elevation variables in assessing extent of Commiphora wightii (Arnt.) Bhand.
Commiphora wightii (Arnt.) Bhand., is an important medicinal plant of Indian Medicine System (IMS) since ancient time. It is used in different ailments of obesity, arthritis, rheumatism and high cholesterol. Due to overexploitation its natural populations declined to large extent. IUCN has put it under Data Deficient (DD) category due to lack of data on its extent of occurrence in nature. Hence, the study was carried out using MaxEnt distribution modelling algorithm to estimate its geographic distribution and to identify potential habitats for its reintroduction. For modelling employed 68 presence locality data, 19 bioclimatic variables, Normalize Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and elevation data. These were tested for multicollinearity and those variables having r-value less than 0.8 were selected for further analysis, which was carried out in two ways i) Bioclimatic variables and elevation; ii) NDVI and elevation. Area Under the Curve (AUC) in both analysis was above 0.9 for all variables, indicating very high accuracy of prediction. Variables governing distribution of C. wightii in the analysis using bioclimatic and elevation data set are precipitation seasonality (56.6 %), annual precipitation (16.4 %) and elevation (14.7 %). Extent of occurrence of C.wightii predicted by model closely matched in the districts of Jaisalmer and Barmer. In the second analysis elevation (48.3 %), NDVI of June (11.1 %) and August (11.2 %) contributed for NDVI and Elevation data set. NDVI of June corresponds to its leafing phase while NDVI of August to flowering phase. Area of its occurrence predicted for NDVI and elevation data set are Bikaner, Churu, Jhunjhunun some part of Jodhpur which are completely sandy, where C. wightii is totally absent. Extent of occurrence was also validated in ground survey. Potential areas for its reintroduction were identified as Jaisalmer and Barmer districts in Indian arid zone.