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Indian Institute of Science (2014)

Fire Ecology of a Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest in Southern India

Mondal, Nandita

Titre : Fire Ecology of a Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest in Southern India

Auteur : Mondal, Nandita

Etablissement de soutenance : Indian Institute of Science

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2014

Résumé partiel
Fire ecology encompasses the study of the factors, biotic and abiotic, that influence the occurrence of fire in an area, as well as the effects fire has on the flora and fauna native and non-native to the region (Whelan 1995). Fire has had a major influence on shaping biomes as we see them today. Fire has had an effect on vegetation much before the evolution of Homo on Earth (Keeley and Rundel 2005, Pausas and Keeley 2009, Midgley and Bond 2011). With the evolution and expansion of Homo across Earth, fire has been tamed, and then generated and used over time to yield landscapes that were suitable for their existence (Pyne 1991, Bowman et al. 2009, Archibald et al. 2012). Thus, fire, vegetation and humans were, and still are, inextricably linked in certain biomes on Earth. The best examples are observed in tropical savannas and grasslands, biomes that experience distinct seasonality in climate and are thus prone to frequent fires caused either by lightning or by humans (Keeley and Rundel 2005, Archibald et al. 2012). At the other end of the spectrum of tropical vegetation types are rainforests where the occurrence of fires is constrained by a perpetually moist environment (Meyn et al. 2007, van der Werf et al. 2008), in the absence of manipulation of the forest landscape by humans. Frequent fires have been documented to alter structure and cause a decline in forest diversity in rainforests (Cochrane and Schulze 1999, Cochrane 2003), whereas fire exclusion in mesic savannas leads to increases in biomass and transition to forest ecosystems (Bond et al. 2003, Bond et al. 2005 and references therein). A tropical biome that lies between these two extremes of vegetation types is the Seasonally Dry Tropical Forest (SDTF) where the occurrence of fire is common, but for which there are contrasting views on the effect of fire on this system (Saha and Howe 2003, Otterstrom et al. 2006 as examples). Current forest management policies in SDTF areas, especially in India, actively aim to exclude fire from these forests mostly because of the perception held by forest managers and the general public that fire has negative effects on forests. However, very few scientific studies have explored the ecology of fire in SDTFs. In order to formulate fire management policies, it is necessary to have a more comprehensive understanding of the ecology of fire in this tropical forest type.

Présentation (etd@IISc)

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