Grasslands

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Mahesh Sankaran (National Centre for Biological Sciences)
Co-Investigators:
Dr. Advait Edgaonkar (Indian Institute of Forest Management)
Dr. Amit Kotiya (University of Rajasthan)
Dr. Ashalata Devi (Tezpur University)
Dr. Bibhuti Lahkar (Aaranyak)
Dr. Gopal S. Rawat (Wildlife Institute of India)
Dr. Jayanthi Mukherjee (Azim Premji University)
Dr. Jayashree Ratnam (National Centre for Biological Sciences)
Dr. Mansoor Shah (University of Kashmir)
Dr. Perumal Ravichandran (Manonmaniam Sudaranar University)
Dr. P. V. Karunakaran (Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History)
Dr. Sumanta Bagchi (Centre for Ecological Sciences)
Dr. Sumit Dookia (Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University)

Grasslands and similar ecosystems are a major biome across the globe, and dominate the sub-humid regions. In India, they are a major source of ecosystem services as they support a large livestock population, as well as a wide variety of wildlife. They are the climax vegetation in some ecosystems (e.g., alpine meadows, arid steppes). In many other places, they represent seral stages as part of a matrix of alternative habitats (e.g., within mix of forests, savanna, cropland). Unfortunately, grasslands have been historically neglected, despite their high ecological and societal relevance, and have often been subjected to inconsistent policy decisions. They have frequently been designated as wastelands, resulting in land-use conversion. 

Monitoring of grassland ecosystem structure and function will involve establishing permanent plots that cover the spectrum of current land-use and disturbance regimes. Fire and grazing are the most common features. Permanent plots, with associated controls when applicable, are a globally standardized source of information on their dynamics. Burnt/unburnt plots and grazed/ungrazed plots represent such paired sets, and these will be monitored across representative grassland sites. Data on species composition, biomass, and soil nutrient status will be collected seasonally, and annually, using standardized protocols from replicated 10m x 10m plots.