Sumanta Bagchi

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Associate Professor
Name: Sumanta Bagchi
Affiliations (Departments/Programs): 
Centre for Ecological Sciences
Research Areas: 
Ecology, Climate change and Conservation
Ecosystem function and services, Biodiversity and Global change, Coupled human and natural ecosystems, Plant-herbivore interactions, Wildlife Conservation.

I am broadly interested in biology, ecology, and natural history. My research covers topics related to how natural and human-modified ecosystems respond to disturbance and change in climate. Simultaneously I also investigate whether these responses would likely mitigate climatic effects, or enhance them through mechanisms such as carbon sequestration or loss. Finally, I also seek to determine whether ecosystem function and services can lead to incentives for conserving biological diversity.

Coupled human-and-natural ecosystems often represent multiple land-use scenarios where both people and wildlife depend on ecosystem function such as productivity and nutrient cycling. Often, the goals of different land-use are inconsistent with one another. The Trans-Himalaya is one such example. Here I try to understand the impacts of grazing, by domestic livestock and native herbivores, on the plants and soils of semi-arid shrub-steppe rangelands, and how these will likely respond to ongoing and projected change in climate.

Rangeland vegetation, due to their long evolutionary history with large-bodied grazing mammals are often thought to be resilient and capable of absorbing chronic and periodic disturbances. Theoretical constructs surrounding ecological resilience are rich and varied, but the empirical counterparts remain weakly resolved. I try to assess whether long-term (several decades or more) trends in vegetation composition in rangeland ecosystems are adequately described by the resilience-based framework.

Research overview video link

Selected Publications: 

Murthy, K., & S. Bagchi (2018). Spatial patterns of long-term vegetation greening and browning are consistent across multiple scales: Implications for monitoring land degradation. Land Degradation and Development 29:2485-2495 DOI: 10.1002/ldr.3019

Chandregowda, M.H., K. Murthy, & S. Bagchi (2018). Woody shrubs increase soil microbial functions and multifunctionality in a tropical semi-arid grazing ecosystem. Journal of Arid Environments 155:65-72. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2018.02.006

Bagchi, S. (2017). Research opportunities for undergraduates. Current Science 112(9):1797.

Iyengar, S.B., S. Bagchi, D. Barua, C. Mishra, & M. Sankaran (2017). A dominant dwarf shrub increases diversity of herbaceous plant communities in a Trans-Himalayan rangeland. Plant Ecology 218:843-854 DOI: 10.1007/s11258-017-0734-x

Bagchi, S., N.J. Singh, D.D. Briske, B.T. Bestelmeyer, M.P. McClaran, & K. Murthy (2017). Quantifying long-term plant community dynamics with movement models: Implications for ecological resilience. Ecological Applications 27:1514-1528. DOI: 10.1002/eap.1544

Bagchi, S., E. Gupta, K. Murthy, & N.J. Singh (2017). Assessing the evidence for climate driven phenology change in high altitude wetlands of Ladakh. Pp. 189-204, in Prins, H.H.T. & T. Namgail (eds), Bird migration across the Himalayas: wetland functioning amidst mountains and glaciers. Cambridge University Press. DOI: 10.1017/9781316335420.016

Bagchi, S., S. Roy, A. Maitra, & R.S. Sran (2017). Herbivores suppress soil microbes to influence carbon sequestration in the grazing ecosystem of the Trans-Himalaya. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 239:199-206 DOI: 10.1016/j.agee.2017.01.033

Ranjan, R. & S. Bagchi (2016). Functional response and body size in consumer-resource interactions: unimodality favors facilitation. Theoretical Population Biology 110:25-35. DOI: 10.1016/j.tpb.2016.04.001

Bagchi, S., (2015). Do large herbivores influence plant allocation to above- and below-ground compartments? Ecological Studies 225:177-185. DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-7570-0_7

Bagchi, S., D.D. Briske, B.T. Bestelmeyer, & X.B. Wu (2013). Assessing resilience and state-transition models with historical records of cheatgrass Bromus tectorum invasion in North American sagebrush-steppe. Journal of Applied Ecology 50:1131-1141 DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.12128