Sumanta Bagchi

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Assistant Professor
Name: Sumanta Bagchi
Affiliations (Departments/Programs): 
Centre for Ecological Sciences
Research Areas: 
Ecology, Climate change and Conservation
Ecosystem function and services, Biodiversity and Global change, Coupled human and natural ecosystems, Plant-herbivore interactions, Wildlife Conservation.

I am broadly interested in biology, ecology, and natural history. My research covers topics related to how natural and human-modified ecosystems respond to disturbance and change in climate. Simultaneously I also investigate whether these responses would likely mitigate climatic effects, or enhance them through mechanisms such as carbon sequestration or loss. Finally, I also seek to determine whether ecosystem function and services can lead to incentives for conserving biological diversity.

Coupled human-and-natural ecosystems often represent multiple land-use scenarios where both people and wildlife depend on ecosystem function such as productivity and nutrient cycling. Often, the goals of different land-use are inconsistent with one another. The Trans-Himalaya is one such example. Here I try to understand the impacts of grazing, by domestic livestock and native herbivores, on the plants and soils of semi-arid shrub-steppe rangelands, and how these will likely respond to ongoing and projected change in climate.

Rangeland vegetation, due to their long evolutionary history with large-bodied grazing mammals are often thought to be resilient and capable of absorbing chronic and periodic disturbances. Theoretical constructs surrounding ecological resilience are rich and varied, but the empirical counterparts remain weakly resolved. I try to assess whether long-term (several decades or more) trends in vegetation composition in rangeland ecosystems are adequately described by the resilience-based framework.

Selected Publications: 

Bagchi, S. (2017) Research opportunities for undergraduates. Current Science 112:1797

Bagchi, S., N.J. Singh, D.D. Briske, B.T. Bestelmeyer, M.P. McClaran, & K. Murthy (2017). Quantifying long-term plant community dynamics with movement models: Implications for ecological resilience. Ecological Applications 27:1514-1528

Bagchi, S., E. Gupta, K. Murthy, & N.J. Singh (2017). Assessing the evidence for climate driven phenology change in high altitude wetlands of Ladakh. Pp. 189-204, in Prins, H.H.T. & T. Namgail (eds), Bird migration across the Himalayas: wetland functioning amidst mountains and glaciers. Cambridge University Press.

Bagchi, S., S. Roy, A. Maitra, & R.S. Sran (2017). Herbivores suppress soil microbes to influence carbon sequestration in the grazing ecosystem of the Trans-Himalaya. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 239:199-206

Ranjan, R. & S. Bagchi (2016) Functional response and body size in consumer-resource interactions: unimodality favors facilitation. Theoretical Population Biology 110:25-35

Bagchi, S., D.D. Briske, B.T. Bestelmeyer, & X.B. Wu (2013).
Assessing resilience and state-transition models with historical records of
cheatgrass Bromus tectorum invasion in North American sagebrush-steppe
Journal of Applied Ecology 50:1131-1141

Singh, N.J., & S. Bagchi (2013). Applied ecology in India: scope of
science and policy to meet contemporary environmental and socio-ecological
challenges. Journal of Applied Ecology 50:4-14.

Bagchi, S., D.D. Briske, X.B. Wu, M.P. McClaran, B.T. Bestelmeyer & M.E. Fernandez-Gimenez (2012). Empirical assessment of state-and-transition models with a long-term vegetation record from the Sonoran Desert. Ecological Applications 22:400-411.

Bagchi, S., & M.E. Ritchie (2012). Body size and species coexistence in
consumer-resource interactions: A comparison of two alternative
theoretical frameworks. Theoretical Ecology 5:141-151.

Bagchi, S., & M.E. Ritchie (2010). Herbivore effects on above- and
belowground plant production and soil nitrogen availability in the
Trans-Himalayan shrub-steppes. Oecologia 164:1075-1082.

Bagchi, S., & M.E. Ritchie (2010). Introduced grazers can restrict
potential soil carbon sequestration through impacts on plant community
composition. Ecology Letters 13: 959-968.