Geetha Ramaswami

Programme Manager, Education and Public Engagement

Geetha 20ramaswami 20photo

PhD

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. 

Projects

Publications

  • Journal Article
    2019
    Focal plant and neighbourhood fruit crop size effects on fruit removal by frugivores in a semi-arid landscape invaded by Lantana camara L.
    Geetha Ramaswami, Brihadeesh Santharam, Suhel Quader
    Current Science 116 (3) 405-412
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    PDF, 138 KB

  • Book Chapter
    2019
    Tracking phenology in the tropics and in India: the impacts of climate change.
    Pages 45-69 In: Bhatt, JR, A. Das, and K. Shanker (eds.). Biodiversity and Climate Change: An Indian Perspective. New Delhi, India: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India.
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    PDF, 839 KB

  • Popular Article
    2018
    The case of the confusing Kanikonna tree
    The Hindu, 26 June
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    HTML, 86.9 KB

  • Journal Article
    2017
    Plant-disperser mutualisms in a semi-arid habitat invaded by Lantana camara L.
    Plant Ecology 218 (8): 935-946
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    PDF, 1.08 MB

    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.

  • Dataset
    2017
    Data from: Plant-disperser mutualisms in a semi-arid habitat invaded by Lantana camara L. Plant Ecology
    Data Dryad. http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gc6dm
  • Popular Article
    2016
    Shekru sees a blazing issue
    The Hindu in School, 13 July
  • Popular Article
    2016
    An urban menagerie
    The Hindu in School, 20 January
  • Popular Article
    2015
    Little Green Flesh-eaters
    The Hindu in School, 21 January
  • Journal Article
    2014
    Addressing the management of a long-established invasive shrub: the case of Lantana camara in Indian forests
    Geetha Ramaswami, Soumya Prasad, David Westcott, S. P. Subuddhi, Raman Sukumar
    Indian Forester, 140 (2) : 129-136
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    PDF, 237 KB

    Since its introduction in India 200 years ago, Lantana camara (Lantana) has become established and naturalised across a wide range of habitats. In Indian protected areas, lantana has been predominately managed using a range of mechanical removal approaches, costing up to ` 6000 per hectare. However, managed sites are rapidly recolonized by lantana and management programmes rarely achieve their goal of lantana eradication. In present study, we quantified recolonisation of lantana at sites that were either managed only once or for two consecutive years in Rajaji National Park, Uttarakhand. Rapid recolonisation and recruitment is occuring from seed dispersal from surrounding lantana populations, soil seed banks and vegetative regeneration. To manage lantana effectively we need to consider these ecological processes. An alternate management programme is recommended for long-established invasive plants such as lantana, that focuses on (a) prioritizing critical habitats that require management of invasive species (b) long-term monitoring and management scaled to timeframes of ecological processes, i.e., lantana dispersal and soil seed banks,  and (c) phased enlargement of managed sites such that over time, high-priority habitats can be isolated from dispersal originating from surrounding lantana source populations. 

  • Popular Article
    2014
    A Hydra-headed plant
    The Hindu in School, 26 November

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