Trait-based modeling of forest-biodiversity dynamics in India

PhD Program in Forest Ecology and Environment, Indian Institute of Remote Sensing, Dehradun, India

Pooja Rathore

Pooja Rathore

Human-induced climate change is causing widespread alterations in species distribution patterns. The increase in global surface temperature over the 20th century has already changed the composition of forest plant communities around the world. While detailed projections of future climate change are available, these alone do not suffice to estimate changes in species-range dynamics. There are several other factors, such as the ecologically important life-history traits, evolution, and species dispersal that affect population growth rates and species distributions. The debate concerning the strengths and limitations of species-distribution models and potential areas for their improvement ranges from the incorporation of land-cover variables and biotic interactions to biological traits. More detailed forms of data, becoming available on the life histories of many taxa, can significantly improve biodiversity projections. The proposed project will investigate the roles of functional traits and eco-evolutionary dynamics in determining forest-biodiversity processes and patterns. Specifically, I will use the PLANT model, which has recently been developed in collaboration with IIASA researchers, to predict spatial variability in the community structure of Moist Bhabar Doon Sal (Shorea robusta) forests in Tarai central province, situated between the Ganges River and the Shiwaliks Hills in the lower Himalaya. The core of my research effort will be devoted to parameterizing and calibrating the PLANT model to match empirical observations from Indian forests. Time permitting, I will then use the calibrated model to predict the impacts of climate change and global warming on these Indian forests.

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Last edited: 18 September 2016

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