Category : Press Releases

3 months, 2 weeks ago Comments Off on Study Calls for Urgent Need for Improved Human-Wildlife Conflict Management Across India
Posted in: News, Press Releases
  • Up to 32 Wildlife Species Damaging Life and Property
  • Human-Wildlife Conflict Endangers Both Human Livelihoods and Wildlife Survival Globally

 

BENGALURU 28 JUNE 2017 — There is an urgent need to strengthen human-wildlife conflict management across India, as up to 32 wildlife species are damaging life and property in this nation of 1 billion people, according to a recent study published in the July 2017 edition of Human Dimensions of Wildlife.

The researchers are calling for the identification of effective prevention techniques, strengthening existing compensation schemes, and an open inclusive dialogue between local communities, governments, and conservationists.

The authors of the study, “History, Location, and Species Matter: Insights for Human–Wildlife Conflict Mitigation,” are Dr. Krithi Karanth, conservation scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and Sahila Kudalkar, research associate with the Centre for Wildlife Studies.

The study examined the patterns of human-wildlife conflict and mitigation use by 5,196 families from 2011 to 2014 from 2855 villages neighboring 11 wildlife reserves across western, central, and southern India. The study was designed to help inform better policies to mitigate human-wildlife conflict.

Some of the results of the research included:

Of the more than 5,000 households surveyed around 11 reserves in India, crops were lost by 71% of households, livestock by 17%, and human injury and death were reported by 3% of households.

Rural families use up to 12 different mitigation techniques to protect their crops, livestock and property. Night-time watch, scare devices, and fencing are the most common mitigation techniques used by rural families in the periphery of reserves.

Families near reserves in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh were most likely to use mitigation. In recent years, these states have recorded high levels of damage by wildlife, and are among states that provide the highest compensation payments across India. In contrast, families in Rajasthan were least likely to protect crops and property.

Across wildlife reserves, people reported average crop losses amounting to INR 12,559 (US$194) , and INR 2883 (US$44)of livestock losses annually. Such losses constitute a significant chunk of India’s rural economy, where the majority of the population earns less than INR 5000 (US$77) per month.

Said Dr. Karanth: “Resolving human-wildlife conflict requires revisiting the goals of conservation policies and investments by people and organizations. This is especially true with respect to effort and money deployed associated with mitigation and protection. People may be better served by deploying early warning, compensation and insurance programs rather than by focusing heavily on mitigation.”

Said Sahila Kudalkar, “Combined with high poverty, and low awareness regarding government compensation, such families may be most vulnerable to impacts of wildlife damage upon their livelihoods.”

The study was supported by DST Ramanujan Fellowship, National Geographic Society, National Science Foundation, and Rufford Foundation.

 


Wildlife Conservation Society India Program.

WCS India Program, based in Bengaluru, has combined cutting-edge research on tigers and other wildlife, with national capacity building and, effective site-based conservation through constructive collaborations with governmental and non-governmental partners. WCS India Program is committed to saving wildlife and wild lands, nurturing and inspiring positive attitudes towards nature in people through its scientific and conservation endeavors.

Visit: wcsindia.org Follow: @WCSIndia, @wcs.ind

Time-stamps provide valuable information to study tigers, say scientists
4 months, 3 weeks ago Comments Off on Time-stamps provide valuable information to study tigers, say scientists
Posted in: News, Press Releases

MEDIA CONTACT:

Dr. Ullas Karanth

Email: <ukaranth@gmail.com>

Phone: 080-2211 8976

  • For the first time, scientists incorporate time of photo-capture to estimate abundance and spatial distribution of tigers

  • Traditionally time-data is discarded during analysis despite availability of the information in camera-trap data

  • New methodology of analysis represents data closer to reality that provides a chance to learn more about the behaviour and movement of tigers

BENGALURU 22 May 2017 70 percent of wild tigers are concentrated in less than 6 percent of remaining habitats worldwide. Science-based management is critical for tiger conservation. Spatial capture-recapture (SCR) model analysis is often used to estimate tiger abundance. However, scientists Dr. Robert Dorazio and Dr. Ullas Karanth find that the methodology makes inefficient use of potentially important information in the data – this is despite availability of the information when using camera-traps.

Dates and times of animal detections are fundamental considerations to designing and implementing a conservation strategy.

A new study led by Dr. Robert Dorazio of the United States Geological Survey, and co-authored by Wildlife Conservation Society Director for Science in Asia Dr. Ullas Karanth exploits all information provided by the SCR data obtained using continuous-time recorders i.e. camera-traps.

The scientists illustrated this continuous-time SCR model by analysing spatial and temporal patterns evident in the camera-trap detections of tigers living in and around Nagarahole Tiger Reserve in Karnataka.

They have developed a model to estimate the spatial distribution and abundance of animals making full use of location of photo-capture data and time of photo-capture data – which is a significant advance from traditional SCR analysis which uses only location of photo-capture data. This new method represents data closer to reality.

Dr. Robert Dorazio says, “Modeling photo-capture times of tigers and other large carnivores uses all of the information in the data and gives us a chance to learn more about the behaviors and movements of these animals— information that is crucial to their conservation.”

A short video features Dr. Ullas Karanth discussing how this study might change that thinking and benefit scientists.

Says Dr. Karanth: “We are now able to exactly incorporate the time of capture into the data analysis. This gives us more power to mimic nature in the sense of how tigers actually get ‘trapped’ in cameras, and how their movement, behavior, and space-use relate to time. This is a significant advance.”

The study by Dr. Dorazio and Dr. Karanth “A hierarchical model for estimating the spatial distribution and abundance of animals detected by continuous-time recorders” was published in the current issue of the international journal PLOS ONE. The full paper is accessible here.

This research was supported by the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation, the Government of India, and the USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center—Gainesville, Florida.


Wildlife Conservation Society India Program.

WCS India Program, based in Bengaluru, has combined cutting-edge research on tigers and other wildlife, with national capacity building and, effective site-based conservation through constructive collaborations with governmental and non-governmental partners. WCS India Program is committed to saving wildlife and wild lands, nurturing and inspiring positive attitudes towards nature in people through its scientific and conservation endeavors.

Visit: wcsindia.org Follow: @WCSIndia, @wcs.ind

Sliding towards extinction: Scientists find that 60% of mammals are imperiled
7 months ago Comments Off on Sliding towards extinction: Scientists find that 60% of mammals are imperiled
Posted in: News, Press Releases

MEDIA CONTACT:

Dr. Varun R. Goswami

Email: <varunr.goswami@gmail.com> | Phone: +91-9901-943676

  • Treating large mammals as ‘umbrella species’ for conservation facilitates protection of the larger ecosystems and overall biodiversity

 

BENGALURU, March 14, 2017 – A public declaration made last year by a group of 43 renowned international scientists called for a global plan to prevent the world’s large mammals from slipping into oblivion. This led to debates among scientists on whether a focus on megafauna conservation would ignore other forms of biodiversity. Allaying such fears, the same scientists have published an article that makes a strong case for how megafauna conservation does not come at the cost of all else, but rather complements biodiversity conservation.

 

Dr. William Ripple and his colleagues highlight how terrestrial megafauna––large-bodied carnivores and herbivores such as tigers, leopards, wolves, bears, elephants and gaur––remain the strongest candidates to serve as ‘umbrellas’ for many species and ecosystems. “Conserving megafauna requires us to safeguard large tracts of forests, grasslands and various other ecosystems that meet the vast habitat requirements of such species”, said WCS India scientist, Dr. Varun R. Goswami, a co-author of the paper. “By conserving these megafauna, we also conserve birds, amphibians, reptiles, as well as a variety of ecosystem processes”, he added.

 

Notably, big charismatic animals attract larger political and public support, owing to their unique socio-economic cultural values and the strong emotional responses they evoke in many people. Tiger Reserves in India represent an ideal example.

Tiger. Photo by Kalyan Varma

The establishment of tiger reserves, tiger conservation efforts and resources earmarked in India have helped safeguard many other species and habitats. “Megafauna such as tigers and elephants are ideal ambassadors for the conservation of nature”, concluded Dr. Goswami.

 

 

Megadiversity countries like India, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, Ecuador and Venezuela also house an astonishing number of threatened megafauna. This reinforces the compatibility of conservation efforts focused on megafauna with those that target biodiversity as a whole.

 

Whether the focus is on megafauna, ecosystems or overall biodiversity, conservationists are always left with dealing with the crises in a race against time. The rallying call of Dr. Ripple and colleagues is for all concerned conservation scientists to come together to “confront the fierce necessity of ‘how?‘ in the fierce urgency of now.”

 

The article “Conserving the World’s Megafauna and Biodiversity: The Fierce Urgency of Now” was published in January 2017 in the international journal Bioscience, published by the Oxford University Press. It is available online here: https://labs.eemb.ucsb.edu/young/hillary/PDF/Ripple_etal_BioScience_2017.pdf

*Top photo of Indian one-horned Rhinocerous by Kalyan Varma.

Wildlife Conservation Society India Program.

WCS India Program, based in Bengaluru, has combined cutting-edge research on tigers and other wildlife, with national capacity building and, effective site-based conservation through constructive collaborations with governmental and non-governmental partners. WCS India Program is committed to saving wildlife and wild lands, nurturing and inspiring positive attitudes towards nature in people through its scientific and conservation endeavors.

Visit: wcsindia.org Follow: @WCSIndia, @wcs.ind

Home-range size of dhole estimated using camera traps for the first time in India
7 months, 3 weeks ago Comments Off on Home-range size of dhole estimated using camera traps for the first time in India
Posted in: News, Press Releases

MEDIA CONTACT:

‌Arjun Srivathsa

Email: <arjuns.cws@gmail.com>

Dr. Ullas Karanth

Email: <ukaranth@gmail.com> | Phone: 080-2211 8976

  • Researchers present for the first time using camera-traps, home-range size of Asiatic wild dogs (dholes)
  • Study is based on intensive camera-trap surveys in the Western Ghat forests
  • Researchers track two marked individuals, and record their movement in these forests

 

BENGALURU 27 February 2017 – A new study led by scientists from Wildlife Conservation Society-India Program, Centre for Wildlife Studies (Bangalore), and University of Florida, USA, presents the first home-range size estimate of Asiatic wild dogs or ‘dholes’ based on camera trap surveys.

The study, based on intensive camera-trap surveys conducted in Nagarahole and Wayanad wildlife reserves in the Western Ghats India, was part of a long-term project on tiger population dynamics in the region.

Lead author of the study Mr. Arjun Srivathsa, who is a doctoral student at the University of Florida says that “Typically, radio-telemetry is used to obtain information on home-range sizes of large carnivores such as dhole. This is expensive and requires careful handling of animals. In contrast, our estimates are generated through innovative use of non-invasive and relatively inexpensive camera-trap pictures”.

From November 2014 to January 2015 (45 days), the researchers set-up and monitored camera traps which yielded incidental photographic captures of dholes. Unlike tigers or leopards, individual dholes cannot be uniquely identified from camera-trap photographs because they do not have pelage patterns or natural body markings. Yet the researchers were able to identify two individuals in a pack of five animals, based on distinct markings on their pelage, enabling them to map locations of the pack during the survey period.

Dholes labelled DHL-101 and DHL-102 from the pack of five, identified based on an injury mark (yellow circle) and white coloration on the lower right forelimb (blue circle), respectively, photo- captured in a single frame. Photo ©Ullas Karanth/WCS

Dholes are among the least studied large carnivores in the world. Unlike many other social carnivores, dholes occur at low densities in dense tropical forests. They are wary, difficult to capture and radio-collar, and thereby pose several logistical challenges in the field for tracking their movements or studying their behaviour. For the first time in India, their home-range size (roughly 85 sq. km) has been estimated based on non-invasive camera-trap surveys. ‍

The study appears in the January issue of the international journal Canid Biology and Conservation. Authors: Arjun Srivathsa (Centre for Wildlife Studies, Wildlife Conservation Society-India Program and University of Florida, USA), Dr. N. Samba Kumar (Centre for Wildlife Studies and Wildlife Conservation Society-India Program) and Dr. K. Ullas Karanth (Centre for Wildlife Studies, India and Wildlife Conservation Society, New York). It is accessible online at: http://www.canids.org/CBC/20/Dhole_home_range.pdf

*Top image of Asiatic Wild Dog by Shekar Dattatri

Wildlife Conservation Society India Program.

WCS India Program, based in Bengaluru, has combined cutting-edge research on tigers and other wildlife, with national capacity building and, effective site-based conservation through constructive collaborations with governmental and non-governmental partners. WCS India Program is committed to saving wildlife and wild lands, nurturing and inspiring positive attitudes towards nature in people through its scientific and conservation endeavors.

Visit: wcsindia.org Follow: @WCSIndia, @wcs.ind

7 months, 4 weeks ago 1
Posted in: News, Press Releases

MEDIA CONTACT:

Dr. Divya Vasudev

Email: <vasudev.divya@gmail.com>, Phone: +91 96638 99211

Dr. Ullas Karanth

Email: <ukaranth@gmail.com>, Phone: +80 22118976

 

Bengaluru, 18 February 2017 – A new WCS study in India shows that three carnivores – tigers, leopards, and dholes (Asian wild dog) – seemingly in direct competition with one other, are living side by side with surprisingly little conflict.

Usually, big cats and wild canids live in different locations to avoid each other.

Yet in four relatively small reserves in India’s wildlife-rich Western Ghats region, WCS researchers have found that they are co-existing, despite competing for much of the same prey, including sambar deer, chital, and pigs.

Using dozens of non-invasive camera traps for sampling entire populations, rather than track a handful of individuals, the research team recorded some 2,500 images of the three predators in action.

The authors found that in reserves with an abundance of prey, dholes, which are active during the day, did not come in much contact with the more nocturnal tigers and leopards. But in Bhadra Reserve where prey was scarcer, their active times overlapped, yet dholes still managed to avoid the big cats. In Nagarahole, a park teeming with all three carnivores and their prey, leopards actively to avoid tigers.

Overall, the authors say that these carnivores have developed smart adaptations to coexist, even while they exploit the same prey base. However, these mechanisms vary depending on density of prey resources and possibly other habitat features.

Said Ullas Karanth, WCS Director for Science in Asia and lead author of the study: “Tigers, leopards, and dholes are doing a delicate dance in these protected areas, and all are manging to survive. We were surprised to see how each species has remarkably different adaptations to prey on different prey sizes, use different habitat types and be active at different times. Because of small and isolated nature of these high prey densities in these reserves, such adaptions are helpful for conservationists trying to save all three.”

Both tigers and dholes are classified as Endangered by IUCN; leopards are considered Vulnerable.

Understanding these separate yet overlapping species’ needs is critical to managing predators and prey in small reserves, which is increasingly the scenario of the future.  The authors say that by managing populations of flagship predators, like tigers, carefully overall biodiversity can also be conserved.

The study titled “Spatio-temporal interactions facilitate large carnivore sympatry across a resource gradient” authored by Dr. Ullas Karanth, Mr. Arjun Srivathsa, Dr. Divya Vasudev, Ms. Mahi Puri, Dr. Ravishankar Parameshwaran and Dr. Samba Kumar, appeared in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences in February 2017.

This research was supported by the Department of Biotechnology and Department of Science and Technology, Government of India; The Forest Department and Department of Science and Technology, Government of Karnataka; and the Liz Claiborne and Art Ortenberg Foundation.

 


Wildlife Conservation Society India Program.

WCS India Program, based in Bengaluru, has combined cutting-edge research on tigers and other wildlife, with national capacity building and, effective site-based conservation through constructive collaborations with governmental and non-governmental partners. WCS India Program is committed to saving wildlife and wild lands, nurturing and inspiring positive attitudes towards nature in people through it’s scientific and conservation endeavors.

 

Visit: wcsindia.org Follow: @WCSIndia, @wcs.ind

8 months, 2 weeks ago Comments Off on Ullas Karanth’s Book on Conservation Science Released
Posted in: News, Press Releases

MEDIA CONTACT:

Dr. Ullas Karanth

Email: <ukaranth@gmail.com>

Phone: +80 22118976

  • Science and Conservation of Wildlife Populations released by conservation icon Dr. George Schaller
  • The book is a compilation of 26 Articles co-authored by Dr. Ullas Karanth and other global conservation experts
  • The book covers topics ranging from species population biology to conservation policy and targets Indian wildlife conservationists 

 

BENGALURU, JANUARY 31 2017 – Eminent wildlife scientist Dr. George Schaller, who is currently in India formally released the book Science and Conservation of Wildlife Populations by Ullas Karanth and co-authors on 27-1-2016 at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bengaluru.

Cover page of the book ‘Science and Conservation of Wildlife Populations’

The book is a compilation of 26 articles that are authored or co-authored by Dr. Karanth in collaboration with other leading scientists and conservationists including James Nichols, Melvin Sunquist, John Seidensticker, Eric Dinerstein, Stuart Pimm and others. It is published by Natraj Publishers New Delhi and enables Indian readers to easily access articles published in prestigious international journals and books in one comprehensive volume.

 

Spread over three sections, the book covers techniques and analytical approaches to studying wildlife populations, robust and practical methods of population assessments of wildlife such as tigers, leopards, elephants, hyaenas, sambar deer, gaur. The final section addresses effective policy interventions for wildlife conservation that describe studies on the consequences of mining, carnivore translocations, wildlife tourism, and fair and incentive-driven village resettlement projects.

 

Says Dr. George Schaller, “His [Ullas Karanth] depth of knowledge has influenced government policy and reserve management in India as well as perceptions and research techniques internationally. His writing both scientific and popular, including books such as Monitoring tigers and their Prey and The Way of the Tiger, have influenced a wide audience”.

 

Dr. Melvin E. Sunquist, University of Florida says “In a nation of a billion or more people, with enormous pressure on natural resources, it is amazing that India is still home to the largest surviving wild tiger population on just 3% of the world’s land. Without a doubt, outstanding individuals like Ullas have made a difference”.

Edit: The book can be bought in all leading book stores in India. It can also be ordered online here.


Wildlife Conservation Society India Program.

WCS India Program, based in Bengaluru, has combined cutting-edge research on tigers and other wildlife, with national capacity building and, effective site-based conservation through constructive collaborations with governmental and non-governmental partners. WCS India Program is committed to saving wildlife and wild lands, nurturing and inspiring positive attitudes towards nature in people through it’s scientific and conservation endeavors.

 

Visit: wcsindia.org Follow: @WCSIndia, @wcs.ind

Elephant connectivity cannot be ignored while mitigating conflict, Scientists say
9 months, 1 week ago Comments Off on Elephant connectivity cannot be ignored while mitigating conflict, Scientists say
Posted in: News, Press Releases

MEDIA CONTACT:

Dr. Divya Vasudev

Email: <vasudev.divya@gmail.com>

Mobile: +91 96638 99211

 

PRESS RELEASE

  • Landscape connectivity critical for elephant conservation

  • Sites important for elephant connectivity often faced with human–elephant conflict

  • Barrier-centric conflict mitigation that come with substantial monetary costs can also come at the cost of elephant conservation

  • Minimising conflict without impinging on elephant connectivity is the need of the hour

 

BENGALURU, JANUARY 9 2017 – Scientists from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), India Program are calling for a re-think on conservation strategies for threatened and wide-ranging large mammal species.

In an article published in the international journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, Dr. Varun R. Goswami and Dr. Divya Vasudev, conservation biologists at WCS India, highlight the need to balance multiple conservation needs and opportunities in large landscapes.

“Asian elephant conservation provides the perfect example”, says Dr. Goswami who heads the elephant program for WCS India. “Elephant survival in heterogeneous landscapes rests on their ability to move among habitats in search of food and space,” he elaborated. But this movement often brings elephants into contact and potential conflict with people, especially in densely populated countries like India.

A typical response to conflict is to prevent elephants from coming out of forests through fences and trenches. “But this strategy has a direct negative impact on connectivity, and as a result, on elephant persistence”, says connectivity expert Dr. Vasudev.

While some say that demarcated corridors will not be fenced, Dr. Vasudev cautions, “animals don’t always move through corridors that people demarcate, rather they use routes they view as least threatening. Corridors are of course important, but we still have a way to go in knowing where animals move, what stops dispersal, and which areas are most critical for maintaining connectivity”.

This debate becomes highly pertinent in light of the railway fences coming up around some of India’s most important forests. The cost of these fences reportedly runs to more than Rs. 1 crore per km. “These fences come at huge monetary and manpower costs, and before putting them up, we need to think hard about where we place them” Dr. Goswami emphasized. “It is critical that we minimize human–elephant conflict, but while simultaneously thinking about elephant movement needs between habitats.”

“Endangered species—elephants, tigers, gibbons—are more and more present in fragmented landscapes. Conserving them in these landscapes means that we need to have science-based policy, long-term vision, and incorporate diverse challenges and opportunities”, says Dr. Vasudev.

The article titled ‘Triage of conservation needs: the juxtaposition of conflict mitigation and connectivity considerations in heterogeneous, human-dominated landscapes’ authored by Dr. Goswami and Dr. Vasudev appeared in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, and can be accessed at: https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2016.00144


Wildlife Conservation Society India Program.

WCS India Program, based in Bengaluru, has combined cutting-edge research on tigers and other wildlife, with national capacity building and, effective site-based conservation through constructive collaborations with governmental and non-governmental partners. WCS India Program is committed to saving wildlife and wild lands, nurturing and inspiring positive attitudes towards nature in people through it’s scientific and conservation endeavors.

Visit: wcsindia.org Follow: @WCSIndia, @wcs.ind

9 months, 3 weeks ago Comments Off on Experts in Ecology and Statistics explore cutting-edge methods
Posted in: News, Press Releases

Pictured attendees of the workshop ‘Statistical Ecology and Related Topics’ held at Indian Statistical Institute – Bangalore Centre, during 8-11 December 2016. Photo by Avinash/ISI-Bangalore

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Dr. Arjun Gopalaswamy, [arjungswamy@gmail.com], Phone: 8050821192
Dr. Ullas Karanth, [ukaranth@gmail.com], Phone: 080-2211-8976
Prof. Mohan Delampady, [mohan@ms.isibang.ac.in]

 

  • India’s first workshop on Statistical Ecology conducted in collaboration by Indian Statistical Institute-Bangalore and Wildlife Conservation Society’s India Program

  • Inter-disciplinary team of leading experts in statistics, ecology and conservation meet to explore cutting edge methods of gathering and analysing ecological data

  • Over 60 researchers from institutions from India, USA, Malaysia, Myanmar and Australia attend the workshop on “Statistical Ecology and Related Topics” at the Indian Statistical Institute-Bangalore Centre, during December 8-11, 2016

Bengaluru, 30 December, 2016 : Global advances in statistical methodologies which direct the gathering and analysing of data in fields as diverse as economics, epidemiology and weather forecasting are rapidly being developed by Indian researchers. However, in the field of ecology, particularly conservation monitoring, India has made little progress, in spite of being home to both world class mathematical and statistical knowledge as well as many talented ecologists and conservationists who have made their mark globally.

 

To bridge this gap between statistics and ecology, a group of globally recognized experts from both these fields were brought together to conduct the first such workshop on “Statistical Ecology and Related Topics” in Bangalore between December 8-11, 2016. The workshop was jointly organized by Indian Statistical Institute (ISI)-Bangalore Centre and Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) India Program and attracted the participation of 60 researchers from multiple institutions in India, USA, Australia, Malaysia and Myanmar.

 

The workshop elucidated examples of advanced statistical applications to research problems in diverse areas of animal ecology, plant ecology, environmental genetics, epidemiology and wildlife monitoring. Advanced quantitative approaches covered included Likelihood-based and Bayesian inference, Markov-Chain Monte Carlo and Boot-strapping methods. The application of such techniques with appropriate statistical models to sample and estimate animal/plant distributions and abundance across space and time were explained through lectures and panel sessions led by several experts in statistics and ecology.

 

They included Dr. Robert Dorazio (US Geological Survey) and Prof. Sudipto Banerjee (University of California, Los Angeles), Prof. Mohan Delampady (Indian Statistical Institute), Prof. Vidyasagar Padmawar (Indian Statistical Institute) and Prof. Arnab Chakraborty (Indian Statistical Institute), Dr. Ullas Karanth (Wildlife Conservation Society and National Centre for Biological Sciences) and Dr. Arjun Gopalaswamy (Oxford University and Indian Statistical Institute).

 

The workshop focused on the full scientific process – from asking ecological questions to building statistical models that tackle these questions based on sound data. It covered nuances of statistical computation techniques, and, issues of wildlife population assessment as well as societal challenges to advancing the field of statistical ecology in India.

 

Dr. Ullas Karanth (Wildlife Conservation Society and National Centre for Biological Sciences), who handled two sessions on the monitoring and assessments of wildlife populations says, “It is regrettable that in spite of recent advances in statistical ecology, which can benefit wildlife conservation hugely, their rapid absorption is often blocked by Governmental constraints as shown by our national ‘tiger census’. This situation can be changed only with a wider and genuine involvement of qualified scientists from outside the official structures that manage wildlife in India”.

 

Says Dr. Arjun Gopalaswamy (Oxford University and Indian Statistical Institute), “The workshop was a great success because it brought together the right experts to raise good questions and explain the best methods to address them. This is a new area at the interface of ecology and statistics, which the participants found exciting and useful, I think”.

 

Professor Mohan Delampady from Indian Statistical Institute-Bangalore Centre says, “Indian Statistical Institute has a deep tradition, going back all the way to its founder Prof. Mahalanobis, of bringing the best of statistics and science together to solve the country’s problems, as it pursues its developmental goals. I hope this workshop will take that tradition forward into the new and highly relevant areas of ecology and conservation”

 

Dr. Robert Dorazio from the United States Geological Survey, says – “I was gratified at the high caliber and intense interest and enthusiasm of most workshop participants. It was a privilege to see statistical ecology advancing in India, which is one among the worlds most biologically rich nations”.

 

One of the participants, Dr. Ravishankar Parameshwaran says that the workshop provided a clear overview of ecological concepts. He says, “the workshop was challenging and exciting, the various topics discussed were easy to follow”.

 


Wildlife Conservation Society India Program.

WCS India Program, based in Bengaluru, has combined cutting-edge research on tigers and other wildlife, with national capacity building and, effective site-based conservation through constructive collaborations with governmental and non-governmental partners. WCS India Program is committed to saving wildlife and wild lands, nurturing and inspiring positive attitudes towards nature in people through its scientific and conservation endeavors.

 

Visit: wcsindia.org Follow: Twitter: @WCSIndia, Facebook : @wcs.ind

 

Western Ghats Coffee Plantations Sustain High Bird Diversity in India
1 year ago Comments Off on Western Ghats Coffee Plantations Sustain High Bird Diversity in India
Posted in: News, Press Releases

Media contact:

Dr. Krithi K. Karanth <krithi.karanth@gmail.com>

 

  • One of largest scientific assessments of tropical birds in the world, covering an area of 30,000 sq. km in Karnataka
  • Coffee, rubber and areca agroforests found to support 204 bird species, including 13 endemic birds of the Western Ghats
  • Coffee is richer in birds than areca and rubber, but all three agroforests are important for bird conservation in the Ghats
  • Tree cover is an important factor associated with higher bird species richness

Bengaluru, 24 September 2016: Globally, it is recognized that agricultural plantations and agroforests host a diversity of insects, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds and bats. In India’s Western Ghats, small and isolated protected areas are embedded in a matrix of multiple land-uses, most of which include agroforests. These agroforests are being increasingly recognized for their supplementary role in conserving wildlife.

This study evaluated bird diversity in areca, coffee and rubber agroforests, which are the most widely grown plantation crops in Karnataka’s Western Ghats.

 

The study, “Producing Diversity: Agroforests Sustain Avian Richness and Abundance in India’s Western Ghats,” appears in the current edition of Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. Dr. Krithi K. Karanth (Associate Conservation Scientist, WCS-NY), lead author of the paper stated that “this effort involved intensive research in 187 plantations covering an area of 30,000 km2 – taking the team two years to complete. This is one of most comprehensive assessments of tropical bird diversity outside protected areas conducted in the world”.

 

The study finds that coffee agroforests support higher diversity and abundance birds when compared to areca and rubber, and found 13 endemic bird species. “Large-bodied frugivores like pigeons and hornbills are found in much higher densities in coffee. These birds play a very important role of seed-dispersal and maintenance of forest trees in the region”, says Shashank Dalvi who is a co-author of the paper and one of the leading ornithologists in the country.

 

The scientists found a clear positive association of tree density and tree cover in the surrounding areas, on bird diversity. Changing agricultural practices that open-up shade tree canopy or switching from coffee and areca to monoculture crops such as rubber can seriously damage the ability of these agroforests to support birds.

 

Agroforests of the Western Ghats play a critical supplementary role in conserving India’s birds. The authors note that the biodiversity value of agroforests discovered in the study should be incorporated into future planning and policy decisions to facilitate and promote long-term biodiversity conservation. These scientific results should be integrated with policy and markets so that biodiversity rich agroforests can be incentivized to promote sustainable farming practices that enhance birds in coffee, rubber and areca agroforests.

 

The authors of this study are Dr. Krithi Karanth, Vishnupriya Sankararaman, Shashank Dalvi, Arjun Srivathsa, Dr. Ravishankar Parameshwaran, Sushma Sharma, Dr. Paul Robbins, Dr. Ashwini Chhatre. This study was a collaboration by scientists from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Centre for Wildlife Studies, University of Wisconsin (Madison), University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and Indian School of Business (Hyderabad) and supported by the National Science Foundation (USA). The open access paper can be found at http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fevo.2016.00111/abstract.


Wildlife Conservation Society India Program.

WCS India Program, based in Bengaluru, has combined cutting-edge research on tigers and other wildlife, with national capacity building and, effective site-based conservation through constructive collaborations with governmental and non-governmental partners. WCS India Program is committed to saving wildlife and wild lands, nurturing and inspiring positive attitudes towards nature in people through it’s scientific and conservation endeavors.

 

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1 year, 1 month ago Comments Off on Landscape Connectivity Affects Genes to Communities
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  • Connectivity between forest fragments is critical for avoiding extinction
  • A review of 370 scientific articles reveals that isolation of habitats or wildlife populations almost inevitably has negative impacts such as high mortality, low reproduction and local extinctions. 
  • Studies on the impacts of connectivity are sadly lacking in India. 
  • Scientists recommend more objective-based assessments to understand impacts of landscape connectivity

Bengaluru, 18 August 2016: Wild animals disperse or move between isolated forest fragments to maintain linkages or connectivity. But in a fast changing world, these linkages are slowly eroding.

“Across species, and across geographies, whether you are looking at genetic material, population growth rates, or communities, the answer is the same – as connectivity erodes, species lose out,” says Dr. Robert Fletcher, lead author of the study and Associate Professor at the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida.

As connectivity is lost, genetic variability declines. Consequently, animals are less able to adapt to new environments, more prone to diseases, and can suffer from low survival and reproduction. Ultimately, local extinctions may occur, leaving behind depauperate animal communities and collapsing ecological systems.

“In India, Protected Area sizes are small, and landscapes are rapidly changing”, says Dr. Divya Vasudev, Wildlife Conservation Society (India). “Still we have little knowledge of the consequences on our biodiversity”.

Photo by Somashekar N/CWS

Large mammals like the tiger, for instance, make use of corridors to disperse across landscapes. Photo by Somashekar N/CWS

Even for a species that is well studied, like the tiger, we are only now acquiring empirical knowledge on the role that connectivity plays in preventing its extinction. Potentially dispersing tigers have been removed into captivity from conservation landscapes.

The country is immersed in debates and court cases on the construction of National Highways across recognized tiger corridors. “If we had a better handle on the consequences of disrupting connectivity between tiger populations, maybe it would prompt more effective mitigative action”,  adds Dr. Vasudev.

Connectivity research provides practical insights to specific negative implications of habitat fragmentation on wildlife.

The authors recommend focusing on estimating connectivity effects, capturing movement processes, accounting for uncertainty and isolating connectivity effects relative to others. This will enable immediate on ground action needed to ensure that functional linkages are maintained between habitat patches, and further fragmentation is immediately and effectively curtailed.

The paper titled ‘Divergent perspectives on landscape connectivity reveal consistent effects from genes to communities’ was published in the journal Current Landscape Ecology Reports last month. Authors include Robert J. Fletcher, Noah S Burrell, Brian E. Reichert, Divya Vasudev, and James D. Austin.

The paper can be accessed here:

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40823-016- 0009-6


Wildlife Conservation Society India Program. 

WCS India Program, based in Bengaluru, has combined cutting-edge research on tigers and other wildlife, with national capacity building and, effective site-based conservation through constructive collaborations with governmental and non-governmental partners. WCS India Program is committed to saving wildlife and wild lands, nurturing and inspiring positive attitudes towards nature in people through it’s scientific and conservation endeavors.

Visit: www.wcsindia.org Twitter: @WCSIndia, Facebook: @wcs.ind