Human Ecology

, Volume 40, Issue 6, pp 931–942 | Cite as

Ecology and Impacts of the Invasive Species, Lantana camara, in a Social-Ecological System in South India: Perspectives from Local Knowledge

  • Bharath SundaramEmail author
  • Siddhartha Krishnan
  • Ankila J. Hiremath
  • Gladwin Joseph


We explored how the forest-dwelling Soliga community of South India views and explains biological invasions, and how local knowledge can inform scientific knowledge on biological invasions. We used an interview schedule with open-ended questions to solicit Soliga opinion on Lantana camara (lantana) invasion. The Soliga cited three reasons for lantana spread: its prolific fruit output and wide seed dispersal, change in fire management, and historical extraction of grass and bamboo. The Soliga believe that lantana invasion has had negative effects on the ecosystem and their livelihoods. Tabling scientific knowledge with local knowledge has improved our understanding of lantana invasion. The role of existing lantana in colonizing neighboring areas, and the response of native tree communities to lantana were common to both local and scientific sources. However, the Soliga view provides a more nuanced perspective of the lantana-fire relationship (contextually based on lantana density) with fires suppressing lantana when lantana density was low. This is contrary to views held by foresters and biologists, that fires are uniformly detrimental and promote lantana. Our study shows that examining Soliga observations has improved understanding of the invasion process and presents avenues for future lantana management.


Local knowledge Adaptive management Forest fires Soliga Invasive species Lantana camara - South India 



Comments from Nitin Rai and three anonymous reviewers greatly improved the quality of this manuscript. H.M. Krishnan assisted with Soliga interviews. We thank ATREE field station personnel in BRT for their support. This work was supported by the International Foundation for Science, Sweden, the Department of Science and Technology, India, and a collaborative project between ATREE and the Department of International Environment and Development Studies (NORAGRIC) of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bharath Sundaram
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Siddhartha Krishnan
    • 1
  • Ankila J. Hiremath
    • 3
  • Gladwin Joseph
    • 1
  1. 1.Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE)BangaloreIndia
  2. 2.Azim Premji UniversityBangaloreIndia
  3. 3.Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE)New DelhiIndia

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