ECOLOGY

Axis 1. – Forest Ecology and Botany

"The love of complexity without reductionism makes art ; the love of complexity with reductionism makes science."

E.O. Wilson
  • Forest dynamics and biomass assessments of tropical forests

Increasingly accurate and intensive data collection in Uppangala during the past three decades provides us an opportunity to assess forest dynamics, estimation of biomass and carbon sequestration and to evaluate the methodological approaches of upscaling process from local forest data to regional extrapolations by linking remote sensing data. The Western Ghats being a biodiversity hotspot and a recognized carbon sink, the Uppangala model is a pilot to help guide future environmental policies at the national and international levels. With the development of carbon related policies, and the need to monitor both species and biomass dynamics of natural and disturbed forests, additional series of 1 ha permanent plots in different landscapes as well as new analytical and modeling techniques. Collaborations are underway with GeoSmit department and NRSC. At present 15 1-ha plots have been established at Yellapur (2014-15) in the Western Ghats in collaboration with NRSC and AMAP through CEFIFRA funding. Two more sites (Shimoga and BRT hills) were selected for establishing new series of 1-ha plots for regional extrapolation of biomass in collaboration with NRSC through DBT funding. This will provide the means to address the issue of scaling, sweeping processes from individual, forest, landscape to biome in its entirety.

 

  • Biodiversity characterization and assessment of functional diversity across spatio-temporal scales

Forests currently face dramatic threats related to changing monsoon regime and anthropogenic destructions. In order to understand the current status and predict the dynamics of forests in the context of changing climate, we need to address their organization (species diversity, composition and structure) and functioning (functional diversity and composition) over a broad range of scales, from the individual trees to the scales of forest stand and to entire biomes. This understanding will help us to determine the ecological stability, resistance and adaptive capacities of forests to the changing climate. This project would lead to the identification of Earth Observation variables which are essential for monitoring biodiversity, as well as further our understanding of the relationship of ecosystem structure with biodiversity.  Both intensive and extensive field sampling across various communities of the two sites viz., Biligiri Renga Hills (BRT Tiger Reserve) and Shettihalli Wildlife Sancturay will be used to develop an Earth Observation based strategy for monitoring biodiversity at community level. Plant functional types of composing species of the sample area will be determined. The field and Earth Observation data will be analysed to answer both spatial and ecological questions on the compositional, structural and functional aspects of biodiversity at the community level. IRS LISS-IV / LISS III satellite data will be used to study changes to the forested landscape over a decadal interval. Stand structure variables will be characterized using very high spatial resolution satellite observations. This research is part of multi-institutional participation collaborative project funded by DBT.