Scientists Dr. Mahesh Sankaran, Dr. JayashreeRatnam, along with JRF Krishna Anujan, from the National Centre for Biological Sciences lead the LeMon project (Long-term ecological monitoring) of forest tree communities, biomass and dynamics in the Andaman Islands.
Effective monitoring of populations, communities and ecosystems is critical to evaluating the success of conservation strategies and understanding the potential responses of natural ecosystems to global change. For long lived species such as trees, this monitoring must necessarily be long-term, as short term studies often fail to capture directional trends in vegetation dynamics, responses to episodic events or lagged responses to changing climatic drivers. Research from these sites provides critical insights into the structuring and functioning of forest communities. Importantly, they also reveal subtle ways in which forests are changing over time in response to changing environmental drivers. These sites are also an important resource for understanding global carbon dynamics, and contribute significantly to the development of effective strategies for long-term sustainable forest management. Clearly, there is a need for a network of long-term monitoring plots in the country to better understand the factors regulating forest dynamics and the potential responses of these systems to future climate change, both from a scientific as well as management view point. NCBS and ANET have set up two such monitoring plots in South Andamans and intend to replicate the process on a number of islands in the Andaman and Nicobar group.
Krishna Anujan, from National Centre for Biological Sciences , is currently estimating the abundance of spotted deer (Axis axis) in the Islands and aims to quantifying the change in the understory vegetation of the forests with respect to the deer. She hopes this study will help in providing useful insights to the future of forest communities and the conservation of forest understory.