Programme Manager, Education and Public Engagement
I am the programme manager for SeasonWatch, a citizen science project looking at the effects of seasons on tree phenology, since March 2018. In the past, I have been a post-doctoral research associate with the Nature Conservation Foundation with an interest in invasive plants. I worked on an invasive plant – Lantana camara – for my PhD; trying to understand how the environment affects where and how this species spreads and also how indigenous species respond to the presence of this invasive plant. I later worked on a short project assessing the reasons by which the management of Lantana has largely failed in Indian forests. I currently work on understanding the impacts of Lantana on native plant-disperser interactions.
- Book ChapterIn pressTracking phenology in the tropics and inIndia: the impacts of climate changeClimate change and biodiversity. Eds J.R. Bhat and K. Shanker
- Journal Article2019Focal plant and neighbourhood fruit crop size effects on fruit removal by frugivores in a semi-arid landscape invaded by Lantana camara L.Current Science 116 (3) 405-412
- Popular Article2018The case of the confusing Kanikonna treeThe Hindu, 26 June
- Dataset2017Data from: Plant-disperser mutualisms in a semi-arid habitat invaded by Lantana camara L. Plant EcologyData Dryad. http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gc6dm
- Journal Article2017Plant-disperser mutualisms in a semi-arid habitat invaded by Lantana camara L.Plant Ecology 218 (8): 935-946Download
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Dispersal is an important ecological process that affects plant population structure and community composition. Invasive plants with fleshy fruits rapidly form associations with native and invasive dispersers, and may affect existing native plant-disperser associations. We asked whether frugivore visitation rate and fruit removal was associated with plant characteristics in a community of fleshy-fruited plants and whether an invasive plant receives more visitation and greater fruit removal than native plants in a semi-arid habitat of Andhra Pradesh, India. Tree-watches were undertaken at individuals of nine native and one invasive shrub species to assess the identity, number and fruit removal by avian frugivores. Network analyses and generalised linear mixed-effects models were used to understand species and community-level patterns. All plants received most number of visits from abundant, generalist avian frugivores. Number of frugivore visits and time spent by frugivores at individual plants was positively associated with fruit crop size, while fruit removal was positively associated with number of frugivore visits and their mean foraging time at individual plants. The invasive shrub, Lantana camara L. (Lantana), had lower average frugivore visit rate than the community of fleshy-fruited plants and received similar average frugivore visits but greater average per-hour fruit removal than two other concurrently fruiting native species. Based on the results of our study, we infer that there is little evidence of competition between native plants and Lantana for the dispersal services of native frugivores and that more data are required to assess the nature of these interactions over the long term. We speculate that plant associations with generalist frugivores may increase the functional redundancy of this frugivory network, buffering it against loss of participating species.
- Popular Article2016An urban menagerieThe Hindu in School, 20 January
- Popular Article2016Shekru sees a blazing issueThe Hindu in School, 13 July
- Popular Article2015Little Green Flesh-eatersThe Hindu in School, 21 January
- Journal Article2014Lantana camara L. (Verbenaceae) invasion along streamsin a heterogeneous landscapeJournal of Biosciences, 39(4), doi: 10.1007/s12038-014-9465-5
Streams are periodically disturbed due to flooding, act as edges between habitats and also facilitate the dispersal of propagules, thus being potentially more vulnerable to invasions than adjoining regions. We used a landscape-wide transect-based sampling strategy and a mixed effects modelling approach to understand the effects of distance from stream, a rainfall gradient, light availability and fire history on the distribution of the invasive shrub Lantana camara L.(lantana) in the tropical dry forests of Mudumalai in southern India. The area occupied by lantana thickets and lantana stem abundance were both found to be highest closest to streams across this landscape with a rainfall gradient. There was no advantage in terms of increased abundance or area occupied by lantana when it grew closer to streams in drier areas as compared to moister areas. On an average, the area covered by lantana increased with increasing annual rainfall. Areas that experienced greater number of fires during 1989–2010 had lower lantana stem abundance irrespective of distance from streams. In this landscape, total light availability did not affect lantana abundance. Understanding the spatially variable environmental factors in a heterogeneous landscape influencing the distribution of lantana would aid in making informed management decisions at this scale.
- Popular Article2014A Hydra-headed plantThe Hindu in School, 26 November