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

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Using plant functional traits to further our understanding of tropical savanna -forest transitions
Dr. Jayashree Ratnam, NCBS
Date & Time: 
22 Feb 2017 - 4:00pm
Event Type: 
CES Seminar Hall, 3rd Floor, Biological Sciences Building
Before the talk

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.

Speaker Bio: 
Jayashree Ratnam is a community and ecosystems ecologist. Her past research has focused on the drivers of vegetation structure and nutrient dynamics in African savannas. She is now working on the less-studied savannas of South Asia with a focus on understanding their history and management, the dynamics of savanna- forest transitions, the roles of fire, drought and herbivores in driving plant traits in these assemblages, and the patterns and consequences of widespread woody invasion in these savannas. Following a PhD in Biology from Syracuse University, post-doctoral work at Colorado State University and University of Leeds, she joined the National Centre for Biological Sciences, where she now serves as the Associate Director of the masters program in Wildlife Biology and Conservation.