Soil, water and species diversity relationships are central components of the vegetation ecology. In this connection, the present study was performed on the three sites within the campus of Banaras Hindu University of India, to relate herbaceous species diversity to soil physical characteristic and the intensity of biotic interferences. At each site, three, 10 m × 10 m plots were randomly established and within each plot, four quadrats each 50 cm × 50 cm were randomly placed for sampling. For each quadrat, number of individuals and their herbage cover were recorded by species. Soil physical characteristics (soil moisture, water-holding capacity, soil porosity and bulk density), elements of biotic interferences and α-diversity and its components were determined for each plot. The plots were ordinated by Non-metric Multidimensional Scaling (NMS) using Importance Value Indices of the component species. Results showed that the selected locations differed in terms of soil moisture and species diversity parameters due to differences in biotic interferences. NMS ordination yielded three groups corresponding to the three communities experiencing different intensity of land use. NMS axes were substantially related to the soil and herbaceous diversity parameters and suggested that the elements of soil physical characteristics, intensity of biotic interferences and regional herbaceous species pool had profound effect on the organization and determination of herbaceous floristic composition. Further, the sample locations exhibiting greater soil moisture, water-holding capacity, soil porosity and lesser soil bulk density harboured greater herbaceous diversity. A negative relationship between indices of species diversity and soil bulk density revealed that the dry and compact soils due to greater biotic pressure contributed to the loss of species diversity. Reduction in livestock numbers, grazing pressure and soil bulk density could be helpful in the promotion of soil quality and species diversity.
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