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HBI Seminar: India's Tropical Montane Forests

Date: 12 JAN 2024 Time: 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM Location: Robertson Lecture Theatre Add to Calendar:

Associate Professor Kishore Kumar, head of the Department of Botany at Farook College in India, is presenting a guest lecture on ' Tropical montane (Shola) forests of Western Ghats: Vegetation, ecology and Conservation'. Please join us in Robertson Lecture Theatre, 1:30-2:30pm for this fascinating lecture exploring one of the Earth's highest biodiversity hotspots.

Montane Forests India 630x380

About the presentation

Sholas are the local name for patches of stunted tropical montane forests found in valleys amid rolling grassland in the higher montane regions of South India, largely in the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamilnadu. These patches of shola forest are found mainly in the valleys and are usually separated from one another by undulating montane grassland. The shola and grassland together form the shola-grassland complex or mosaic. The word 'Shola' is probably derived from the Tamil language word ‘Cholai’ meaning grove. Although generally said to occur above 2,000 meters above sea level, shola forests can be found at 1,600 meters elevation in many hill ranges.

The shola-forest and grassland complex has been described as a climatic climax vegetation with forest regeneration and expansion restricted by climatic conditions such as frost or soil characteristics while others have suggested that it may have anthropogenic origins in the burning and removal of forests by early herders and shifting agriculturists. Pollen analysis from bogs in the Nilgiris suggest that the complex of grassland and forest existed 35,000 years ago, long before human impact began.

Due to their isolation, elevation, and evergreen character, shola forests are home to many threatened and endemic species. There are certain interesting plant species such as Strobilanthes kunthianus, known as Kurinji or Neelakurinji, which is a well-known blue flowered shrub endemic to Western Ghats that blossoms only once in 12 years (that is why Western Ghats is also called as the Blue Mountains). The region is known for the endangered and endemic mammal, the Rock Goat (Nilgiri Tahr). The shola biome has a high water retention capacity and exists as the primary source of water for the high elevation organisms is the origin of many streams and rivers in the Western Ghats.

The presentation will discuss the climate and the peculiarity of this forest type which makes it a region of endemism, the flora and fauna, ecological features, and conservational aspects. Hear firsthand about this unique, high-altitude ecosystem found in the Western Ghats.

About the presenter

Dr. Kishore Kumar K. is a Plant Taxonomist, come Ecologist currently working as an Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Botany at Farook College (Autonomous), Kozhikode, Kerala, India. He is a former research scholar of the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Peechi, Thrissur, Kerala and an expert in the flora, ecology, and various forest types of Western ghats.