Talk at CES on 22 February 2017 at 4:00 pm titled "Using plant functional traits to further our understanding of tropical savanna -forest transitions" by Dr. Jayashree Ratnam from NCBS
Understanding how plant communities have been structured by past environments, and predicting how they might respond to future environmental changes, requires an understanding of plant strategies with respect to resource use, climate and disturbances. Functional traits are measurable morphological and physiological metrics that can be used to draw inferences about these underlying strategies.
In this presentation, I draw on examples from savanna-forest transitions across the globe to consider how the functional traits of tropical savanna and forest plants are indicative of growth and survival strategies that are shaped by their distinctive environments. I present some recent data on plant traits and disturbance regimes from some Indian savanna-forest transitions to contextualize these ecosystems in this comparative framework. I conclude with some unanswered and puzzling questions in these ecosystems.