ECOREGION OF PAKISTAN: THE INDUS VALLEY DESERT
The Indus Valley Desert is an almost uninhabited desert ecoregion of northern Pakistan. The ecoregion is spread over 19,500 sq km. The Indomalayan realm includes the Indus Valley Desert. The temperature of this ecoregion is harsh in summers as well as in winters.
It is 45 C in summers and freezing in winters. Average Precipitation is 600-800mm per year in the Indus valley desert. The variety in temperature results in various types of Vegetation of the desert with Prosopis shrubs being the characteristic species.
Human inhabitance is low in this ecoregion because of the extreme climatic conditions such as too low precipitation and fluctuating temperatures.
The extreme climatic regime influences vegetation. The trees are with small, shiny leaves. The adaptions to arid conditions include a thick waxy coating that helps in reducing water loss.
The vegetation is greatly influenced by extreme climatic conditions. The desert thorn scrub vegetation is characterized by isolated clumps of Prosopis spp., Salvadora oleoides, and Capparis spp., and taller thorn-scrub forests of Acacia spp., Tamarix spp., Albizia lebbeck, and Morus alba.
In this ecoregion, there are no amphibians and reptiles recorded but five large mammals reside here such as Indian wolf, striped hyena, caracal, Indian leopard, and the urial (Ovis orientalis punjabensis) along with other mammals. Overall, 32 species of mammals were recorded from here.
The red-necked falcon is the dominant bird of the ecoregion. This medium-sized falcon has an eye-catching appearance. It had bluish-grey wings and upper body and a chestnut-red head. Therefore, a good predator.
THREATS TO THE ECOREGION
There is a low anthropogenic threat to the ecoregion and its biodiversity due to the harsh climate, low biological richness, and low human density. Due to its hard climate, the Thar Desert the Indus Valley desert has little farming or grazing.
Therefore, the natural habitats are almost intact but hunting still goes on and is a threat to caracals, wolves, and other mammals. However, good policies have resulted in more than 70% protection of this ecoregion.
Author: Shah Noor Khan
Institute: Karachi University
District: Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan