Raman Sukumar

IISc, Bengaluru

Raman Sukumar, Professor of Ecology at IISc, Bengaluru, is known for his pioneering research on the ecology, behaviour, and conservation of Asian elephants. His research interests are tropical forest ecology and climate change. In 1988 he established the country’s longest-running ecological monitoring programme in the Western Ghats and has contributed extensively to Indian government policy on conservation. The author of four books on the elephant and many scientific papers, he is the recipient of several national and international awards, the most notable being the International Cosmos Prize in 2006. He also contributed to the work of IPCC that shared the Nobel Peace Prize (2007). His most recent scientific contribution is an edited volume Tropical Conservation: Perspectives on Local and Global Priorities (Oxford University Press, New York, 2017). Currently, he is a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Advanced Study, Kyoto University, Japan. He is an elected Fellow of TWAS and all the three major science academies in India (FASc in 2000).

Raman Sukumar

Session 2D – Special Lecture

N Mukunda, Bengaluru

Thinking long-term in ecology: Insights from 3-decades of monitoring a tropical forest in Mudumalai

The dynamics of ecosystems may vary considerably across natural ecological gradients such as elevation and rainfall, as well as over time because of interannual variability in climatic factors. Hence, spatiotemporal scales and long-term monitoring become important considerations in understanding the underlying functioning of natural ecosystems. Mudumalai, a dry forest landscape in southern India along a sharp rainfall gradient, has been the site of long-term ecological research including floristics, forest dynamics, invasive species ecology, and fire ecology. A 50-ha permanent plot was set up in the dry-deciduous forest in 1988. This was followed in 1994 by nineteen 1-ha permanent plots spanning several vegetation types and rainfall regimes. The individual fate of over 80,000 individuals from nearly 200 species of woody plants has been monitored over nearly three decades in these sites. These long-term studies provide crucial insights in terms of the biotic and abiotic factors affecting tree diversity, growth, and survival in this forest. The monitoring has also provided new insights into theoretical issues in ecology. Overall, the importance of environmental stochasticity has been clear not only in the low-rainfall, seasonally dry tropical forests of Mudumalai but surprisingly across a global network of tropical forest plots extending to rainforests. Such long-term studies have particular relevance to predicting tropical forest response to future climate change

© 2018 Indian Academy of Sciences, Bengaluru.