The environment of different geological features of Corbett has given ascend to an equally varied set of communities of life forms that survive in them. Such habitats, along with their resident flora and fauna, form diverse ecosystems that are identifiable when you move through Corbett.
Mountains are different from other landforms because they have an unusual variation in elevation, relief, warmth, gradient and the amount of sunlight received. Therefore, there is great diversity in mountain habitats and mountain plant and animal communities have unique description. Mountain habitats show a zonation of floral and faunal patterns in terms of altitude. While ascending mountains, a number of different types of place communities can be seen. The lower regions consist of sal and connected forests while as you go higher you encounter progressive belts of assorted forests, chir pine, oak and rhododendron. Consequently, the fauna also varies and the elevated reaches have animals like the Himalayan black bear and serow, which are deficient lower down. This zonation is perhaps most obvious in the kinds of birds encountered as you go superior.
Sal (Shorea rubusta) is an attractive tree that grows up to 35 m tall and has majestic, shining foliage. Sal is the main tree kind of Corbett and often grows as dense forest. Sal forests represent tropical monsoon type of climate that transpire in areas with 100-200 cm rainfall annually and grow at 200-1200 m above sea point.
These sal forests forms an essential wildlife region throughout northern and central India. Hence the sal forest ecosystem has a wide variety of trees, shrubs, herbs, climbers, fungi, lichens and mosses. Naturally, the life of many mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians is linked to sal forests directly or indirectly for food or shelter. In Corbett the sal forests are found around Panod nallah, Amgadi sot, Sajgadi sot, Gajar sot and Sultan, and also near Dhikala, Khinanauli, Bijrani and Mailani.
Khair and Sissoo are the first trees to come up on freshly exposed ground and newly deposited alluvium. They have special nodules on their roots that add nitrogen to the soil and improve fertility. Once khair-sissoo is recognized, they develop soil, add nutrients and control temperature and winds, and thus help more advanced vegetation to grow. The climax of this gradual process is the formation of sal forests and takes many decades, even centuries to culminate. Khair-sissoo forests provide shade and cover to large mammalians like sambar deer and also tiger and leopard. They also provide roosts and nesting places for birds.
Chaurs are non-natural clearings that were formerly used for cultivation but right now form a rich development of different species of middle to lofty grasses. These grasslands are favored by elephants and deer and offer safe haven to numerous grassland birds such as partridges. The existence of deer attracts big cats to chaurs. Consequently, they are the most excellent areas to sight tigers. This is done throughout winter by a watchful work out of non-natural fire. This induces a fresh growth of grasses that deer and other grazers feed upon. The major chaurs of Corbett occur mainly in the Patli Dun area of the Park. The most essential ones are: Dhikala, Phulai, Khinanauli, Paterpani, Mohanpani, Bijrani and Bhadhai. Another noted chaur, Boxar, now lies submerged under the Ramganga basin.
The Ramganga and its tributaries, and the numerous sots form an essential segment of the Corbett environment. Besides providing water they form home to many plant and animal communities. Many species of fish live in the perennial waters of the Ramganga and its tributaries. Among fish feeders are otters that live on riverbanks and hunt fish in the Ramganga, Palain, Mandal and Sonanadi. Fish is also the staple diet for the endangered Gharials, crocodilians that are specialised fish-eaters.
Corbetts rivers be a focus for individual birds of prey similar to Pallas Fish Eagle and the exceptional Tawny Fish-owl. Additional water reliant birds similar to kingfishers, cormorants, storks, dippers, fork tails, terns, shanks, sandpipers etc. also common the Parks rivers. For the period of winters numerous long-distance emigrant birds throng the Ramganga reservoir. These are mostly plovers, waterfowl (ducks and geese), storks, herons, sandpipers and ospreys.
(Contribution By Dr. Sandhya Rawat)