Religious tradition of conservation associated with greater abundance of a keystone tree species in rural Western Rajasthan, India

Land-use and land-cover change in the Thar Desert region of Rajasthan threatens the persistence of many ecologically and economically important species. The Bishnoi people of Rajasthan have religiously protected a keystone tree species, Prosopis cineraria, locally known as the Khejeri tree, for over five centuries. We conducted the first comparative study that tests the widely held assumption that Bishnoi presence is positively associated with P. cineraria abundance in nineteen villages in rural Rajasthan. We also evaluated the influence of land area type, human and livestock population, and income on measured Khejeri tree abundance.

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