Study of various phenomena related to growth and development of plants such as photosynthesis, respiration, absorption and translocation of water and nutrients, transpiration, growth and reproduction, nitrogen, lipid and fat metabolisms, etc. comes under the domain of the Department of Physiology. The broad areas of research of the Department includes:
- Endemic and threatened Trees/Ecosystems and Climate change:
The climate change induced threats are one among the major physical constraints faced by the species in their habitats. Forests have been stressed by long term regional warming and drying trend which has been affected the habitat specific endemic and threatened trees more precisely the functional dynamics of the species. Study on phenology, reproductive biology, biotic interactions and natural regeneration of the species are significant to identify and correlate impact of climate change on species and to develop suitable mitigation strategies. The Department has been initiated study on selected red listed trees in the Western Ghats to address the issue.
- Macro propagation of Red listed and NTFP trees
One important task in forestry research is the production of adequate quantity of planting stock for afforestation/ restoration programmes. Developing protocols of vegetative/ seed propagation is therefore prioritized where most of the red listed and Non-Timber Forest Produce yielding tree are lacking adequate seed and nursery technologies. Vegetative propagation is advantageous for plants have either poor fruit set or with short period in seed viability. Being dioecious by nature, the production of female progenies is also not ensured for certain species, adding merit to selective breeding methods. The categorization of seed type, critical moisture content for maintaining seed viability and subsequent storage practices for extended seed longevity is prerequisites for germplasm storage of potential species. The Tree Physiology Department recently completed propagation studies on Red listed tree species viz. Myristica spp., Kingiodendron pinnatum, Vatica chinensis, Hydnocarpus macrocarpa, Cynometra sp. etc.
- Biochemical and physiological studies of recalcitrant seeds
Recalcitrancy or nature of rapid loss in seed viability among forest seeds is being a great challenge in tropical forestry particularly in the context of climate change. The exact cause for viability loss in recalcitrant seeds is the synergistic effect of a large number of metabolic processes. The exposure of seeds to lower and higher temperatures cause structural changes at cellular and tissue levels and it is reflected by the increased leakage of ions, sugars and proteins. Thus, identification and estimation of bio chemical factors affecting seed viability loss and subsequent management strategies for improved utilization of tree resources are targeted for study. The threatened and economically important species such as Dysoxylum malabaricum, Persea macrantha; wild edible fruit plants, Baccaurea courtallensis and Flacourtia montana are in the line of study.
- Ecological restoration of Red listed and NTFP trees
After studying the ecology and biology, ecological restoration of a species would help to create new populations through reintroduction or rebuild the degraded populations in their natural habitats through restocking. The Scientist in the Department has made efforts to enhance the genetic base of red listed and NTFP trees in the Western Ghats. The species such as viz. Hydnocarpus macrocarpa, Drypetes malabarica, Myristica malabarica, Myristica beddomei, Myristica magnifica, Gymnacranthera farquhariana, Kingiodendron pinnatum, etc. are a few among in this line of activity.
Ongoing Research Projects
- Restoration and reassessment of selected IUCN listed endangered tress in the Western Ghats
- Population dynamics of selected endemic and threatened trees in the protected areas of Kerala: Temporal analysis in the contest of climate change
- Participatory NTFP yielding medicinal plants resource enhancement: Capacity building through protocols for propagation, enrichment planting and management practices of ten high demanding medicinal plants of Western Ghats, Kerala
- Standardization of sustainable harvesting methods for Jiggat species
Ongoing Extension Projects
- Preparation of a handbook on woody plants endemic to Kerala-Phase 1
- Enrichment and maintenance of medicinal plant garden at Peechi Campus
- Campus Garden Development
Contact: Dr. PA Jose
Principal Scientist & HoD
Kerala Forest Research Institute
Peechi 680653, Thrissur, Kerala, INDIA