For important instructions and day-wise schedule of workshops, please see the Workshops Schedule & Instructions page
Well laid out field experiments can lead to strong and causal inferences in plant ecology. However plant ecology research, at least in India, is biased towards observational studies to some extent. Perhaps this skew is largely due to limited awareness and exposure to the strength and feasibility of using field experiments to address ecological questions.
In this workshop we will explore the pros and cons of observational and experimental approaches to address questions in plant ecology and discuss situations where each approach is suitable. We will also introduce participants to diverse study designs when planning field experiments. Further, we will use case studies of field experiments to demonstrate the strengths of this approach. This will be supplemented with examples of how some simple methods and materials can be / have been used creatively in the field.
This workshop will help understand the basics of photography and all the technicalities involved in creating a good picture while in field.
Outline of how science has led to a solution for the catastrophic vulture declines across Asia, but also how that alone is not enough to reverse the situation. Showing how a coordinating approach has been carried out, and where that has been more and less successful. Then asking attendees to consider parallels or differences with other key threatened species or conservation issues.
Biodiversity management and conservation is one of the most overlooked topics in many companies’ sustainability strategies. It is however, coming into the limelight of India’s business sphere since the past few years, as is evident from some businesses initiating biodiversity conservation programs, policies and strategies. However, there is little dialogue between ecologists and businesses today and unless this gap is bridged, momentum for biodiversity conservation done by businesses, will be lost.
The main aims of the workshop are:
To sensitize young ecologists about the emergent topic of Business and Biodiversity, tell them about conservation fuelled by the private sector, explore engagement with the private sector as an alternative career development path, and briefly discuss skill sets required to work in this sphere.
Whether you are a researcher in a conservation organisation, or run your own project you will need work in close partnership with a peer group or lead a team of people. Working and managing people are often learned through experience (sometimes leading to costly mistakes) and through trust and common sense. But it also helps to know about some of the common issues and problems that arise while working with or leading teams and learn how to effectively deal with them.
The workshop through case studies and role playing exercises will also introduce and discuss concepts like:
➢ Motivation: how do I keep my colleagues charged up and focused?
➢ Teamwork and behaviour: what conditions are necessary for teams to work effectively? What should be my role as a team member or a leader?
➢ Conflict: how can I minimise and deal with conflict in my team?
This workshop is intended to identify synergies between ecological and social science research, as well as to contrast the types of questions that these disciplines seek to answer. This workshop is as much about what not to use social science for, as it is about how social science can improve ecological understandings and conservation outcomes. The idea is to develop more opportunities for interdisciplinary research by introducing workshop participants to the diversity of social science research and methods.
Although researchers are often required to give presentations (including seminars), they rarely receive any formal instruction in the technique of giving effective presentations. The short workshop is designed to offer some basic practical instruction on the topic.
This workshop will introduce the theory of ecosystem services and the basics of economic and non-economic evaluation of services. It will engage with the critique of the concept, try to make sense of the confusion in literature, and discuss the situations where ecosystem services could be applicable.
This workshop provides participants with an introduction into the study of animal behaviour, with activities and discussions that illustrate quantitative approaches to observing behaviour, as well as implications of the field for conservation.
Spiders are very poorly documented in India and with large geographical region and habitat diversity in India, thousands of spiders are still waiting to be discovered and described. To achieve this goal, we need many young minds to take up spider as research topics and help us in documenting the spider diversity in India. Though in recent years, interest to know about spiders among researchers as well as armatures have notably increased. Due to lack of a good pictorial guide for identification of spiders, most of the spider remains unidentified. This workshop aims to expose students to different groups of spiders and teach basic techniques of collection, preservation and identification of spiders. Also, gaps and lacunae in this field will be addressed with prospects of research career on this group.
This is a panel discussion centred around long format non-scientific, non-fiction writing on issues of nature and conservation. The panel will bring together authors who have recently published books on subjects that are deeply linked to nature and to issues of conservation. It will be a platform for the authors to share their motivations, challenges and reasons for writing and for the audience to listen into an interesting discussion on how writers write, why they do and what relevance this may or may not have for the challenges of conservation that we face today
Main aims and goal of the workshop: The idea is to explore the growing territory in contemporary English writing in India, where researchers and activists have crossed over to being authors of subjects they have researched for many years. Part of the purpose of the workshop is to explore the challenges, motivations and craft of writing in the hope that those in the audience might get some insights into these processes. The other purpose of the workshop is to discuss and explore the ends such narratives and books can serve – how different, for eg., is it from scientific writing or from writing for the media on the same issues; what role, if any, can such writing play in conservation itself?
Panelists will include:
Kartik Shanker Director, ATREE and author;
Madhu Ramnath, Botanist and author;
Pranay Lal, Biochemist and author
Having openly accessible images, information, data, and other media can greatly support participatory nature documentation and conservation efforts in biologically diverse countries. A lot of media (including photographs, videos, and sound recordings) are routinely collected by field biologists, social scientists, and nature/wildlife photographers in course of their work. Through Wikipedia and Wikimedia commons, open communities contribute information, develop content and make it openly accessible to interested individuals, institutions, and policy makers. These can then be used in protecting nature and wildlife. In this two hours workshop, participants will write and edit wikipedia pages, and contribute media (images, videos etc) to Wikimedia commons.
Our team members have been studying human large carnivore interactions in varied landscapes of India namely Himachal Pradeesh (where lot of leopard and human deaths occur every year), Northern West Bengal (where workers in tea estates get into conflict scenarios with leopards and elephants, Mumbai (which is an unique Urban habitat where leopards come in contact with city dwellers) and from western Maharashtra and northern Karnataka (where we have negative interactions between wolves and nomadic pastoralist / herders).
Because of the varied experience each of us gets from their respective fields we would like to share the same with other young researchers who want to take this conservation issue further.
The objectives of the workshop are:
1. To sensitize students to the sheer complicated nature of these interactions.
2. Share our experience about stake holder involvement and engagement in the conflict scenario and how it helps.
3. Role played by awareness in resolving the human - wildlife conflict scenario (a case study of Mumbai)
All this will be achieved by power-point presentations, group discussions and role plays.
This session will look at how the tools used by marketers, initially in the commercial sector but lately also in areas like public health can be used to influence human behaviour, the driver of all major threats to biodiversity. This session will introduce participants to a wide array of traditional and emerging marketing tools and present case studies where marketing has been applied to address conservation issues.
Almost all conservation activities, from research to education and outreach, require funding. This workshop will demonstrate the components and structure of a competitive grant application, and identify resources that may help participants find relevant grants and receive assistance with scientific writing.
As conservation scientists, hailing from a strictly ecological sciences background, most of us face the problem of applying qualitative and quantitative methods, usually related to social sciences, in our conservation research questions. Often our research and course-work doesn’t leave us with enough time to dwell deeply within the social sciences discipline. But to grapple with many issues highly relevant to conservation science such as fire ecology, hunting studies, grassland ecology, studies on forest products and urban ecology, demand engagement with the human aspects of conservation which in turn necessitates the use and application of social science methods.
This short-workshop on social science methods is conducted specifically for use in the field of conservation by researchers who belong to or come from an ecological /biological sciences background, just like the organisers. It aims to provide a practical and hands-on techniques related to social science research methods that will be useful for practitioners of conservation science.
The workshop will be divided into three parts:
In the first section, we will introduce the different concepts and jargons that one typically comes across in social science research methods. It will include the importance of social sciences for conservation and how to define objectives and come up with relevant methodology and sampling strategy.
Section two will look at a range of methods, both qualitative and quantitative, with a focus on participant observation, designing questionnaires, interviewing techniques, participatory methods in resource mapping and ethnobotanical methods for documenting local environmental knowledge and change. With numerous examples, we will discuss as to when and where these techniques can be applied, along with the etiquettes of conducting fieldwork with communities, ethical considerations and relationship-equation between researchers and the community members. All the while, we will try to pepper them with our own bitter-sweet experiences from the field.
We will end section two by introducing analytical techniques including basic statistical concepts, which can be used to analyse the ‘social science’ data collected through the described methods. Specifically we will be discussing data processing and statistical analysis for quantitative and qualitative data.
In the third section, we will guide the students to implement the two main methods that we will be introducing in the 1st and 2nd section of the workshop. The participants will be divided into two groups and each will be required to think of a research question and then design an appropriate technique to collect data which might enable them to satisfactorily answer that question. The workshop will end with the student groups sharing their individual and collective experiences during the exercise.
It is important to know your data with all its errors, quirks, and trends, before starting formal statistical analysis. Exploring the data prior to using statistics will help confirm assumptions, detect erroneous values, and provide useful insights for formal analysis. However, nobody can directly comprehend voluminous spread of rows and columns filled with numbers and categories. Instead, we can pull out parts of data to construct summaries in the form of tables and graphs. Such representations of the data provide clear and intuitive ways to gain personal clarity and facilitate communication with peers.
This workshop will focus on tools for data handling and visualization. Participants will explore data using different types of graphs, such as frequency histogram, box plots, and scatter plots. The hands on session will rely strongly on the R statistical environment and make full use of its command line interface. Participants who are not acquainted with R will receive additional material before the workshop to familiarize with its interface and basic workings.
The workshop will cover following broad topics:
1. Using summaries of data for sanity check
2. Plots with single variable
3. Plots with two and more variables
4. Customizing symbols, legends, axes, and other elements
5. Constructing plots like a sentence or argument (using grammar of graphics through the 'ggplot2' package)
6. Exporting publication quality graphs
As a conservation biologist, photography can become a great tool in communicating research ideas and conservation issues better and reaching out to a larger audience. Photography aids in communication as images provoke reactions in people that can help initiate a dialogue and cause change to happen. This workshop gives you the basics of the art of photography. The workshop will include sessions on composition, story telling, compiling photo essays and editing. This will start from groud-up and no prior photography knowledge is required. Note that this session will not go into the technical aspects of photography like aperture, exposure, depth-of-field, although they will be touched upon. This workshop which will fundamentally change the way you see. It has nothing to do with technical sophistication or complicated equipment. This is a class about getting inspired, learning new things, expressing yourself, and getting back to the part of photography that was fun and attracted you in the first place: seeing and capturing.
Regression analysis is a common technique in the toolbox of ecologists and conservation scientists. A thorough understanding of regression is also important if we are to sensibly apply advanced techniques like GLMs, mixed models and so on. In this workshop we will be discuss the basic principles of regression analysis with a focus on application (rather than theory), including common pitfalls and misunderstandings.
This workshop is directed at students who want to effect change. Interacting with managers and policy makers is vital in advancing conservation. We will help you make that challenge less daunting and more appealing, so you can start using your knowledge to mobilise action right away.
We will have a short presentation about the gamut of gender and sexual diversity in animals. This will be followed by an informal discussion session about what the participants themselves have observed, the importance of documenting this diversity, debates in the field about how to talk about and report these observations.
South Asia is as rich in biodiversity as it is in linguistic diversity. However, as a colonial legacy publications on natural history and conservation issues are mostly in English. It is essential to engage with the grass-roots public and relevant stakeholders (such as legislators, media persons, forest department) on conservation issues in local languages. This would help them to better understand the subject. This will also help the naturalists, conservationists and wildlife biologists to create awareness among wider sections of the public. There is a close link between language and conservation movement. Hence, it is essential to encourage students to communicate conservation science through vernacular languages.
Main aims and goal: To introduce participants on the importance of communicating conservation science through local languages; To introduce the participants on challenges in writing and translating the ecological concepts/scientific documents/technical terms into local languages.
Human animal conflict , reducing habitat , poaching etc. are serious issues in saving the natural resources . Speaking about them sometimes becomes difficult . Showing the issues is much better . Be it for children or adults , art is a great medium . Using the performance art of theatre , the workshop will explore how we could create a small skit to talk about such serious subject in the conservation world in the form of a dialogue .
A primer and insights into conservation policy, MEAs, working with the government. An additional focus on building networks, fostering networks, legal interventions. What works, what may not work, case studies, insights and perspective.
Camera-trap based studies often produce a vast amount of data which needs to be efficiently managed to progress from data acquisition to analysis. My workshop deals with using R Package CamtrapR to implement a transparent and flexible data management workflow. We will learn to organize camera-trap data, use metadata tags to catalog species and individuals, extract, tabulate, and export data for SECR and Occupancy Analysis. The workshop could be valuable for researchers who deal with large amounts of camera-trap data.
The Neutral Theory was first presented by Motoo Kimura in 1968 and till date is considered to be one of the best null models of molecular evolution. The workshop will discuss the application of Neutral Theory in conservation genetics. The workshop will provide hands on experience in various neutrality tests such as Ka-Ks, HKA, MK, Tajima's D, and Extended Haplotype Homozygosity (EHH). The workshop will discuss how these neutrality tests can be effectively employed to determine the signatures of recent/past selective sweeps (soft and hard), balancing selection, and background selection in various modern-day populations especially among vulnerable wildlife populations with apparent inbreeding.
Primate species ranges from 30 g mouse lemur to 65,000 g eastern gorilla. Some prefer a solitary life while other live in a family of 3 – 5 individuals, whereas there are a few who live in a huge group of more than 1,000 individuals. Nocturnal as well as diurnal in habit, primates occupy extremely diverse habitats; from montane habitat, tropical rainforest, mangroves, savannah to human habitations. Despite such diversity, however, one thing is common among them: one in every two species are threatened and severely affected by habitat loss, deforestation and hunting/poaching. It is, therefore, necessary to constantly monitor their populations using robust methods to identify populations that are in decline in order to design appropriate conservation measures and management strategies. However, just like their diversity in habit, habitat and group sizes, there are equally diverse methods to census their populations and estimate their densities. Most of the time, a researcher find it difficult to choose, among plethora of techniques, an appropriate survey techniques that suits her/his research question. The workshop will, thus, introduce various methods of census and survey of diurnal and nocturnal primates inhabiting diverse habitats.
The goal of the workshop is to help participants write clearly and effectively, a skill that is crucial for anyone aspiring to become a successful scientist. We will do this by keeping in mind the expectations of the reader. Good writing, I believe, is a craft. And like any craft, it requires hard work. It also means that all of us can become better writers. We will also go over a few issues specific to science writing.
Freshwater ecosystems and their biodiversity are one of the most endangered and poorly protected resources on Earth, with almost 1 in 3 species facing a high risk of extinction. Of the 5785 species of freshwater fish assessed for their conservation status by the IUCN, more than 36% are threatened, and over 60 species have gone extinct since 1500 AD. Despite these striking statistics, there is very limited awareness on freshwater conservation issues and they are often overlooked in conservation prioritisation mechanisms globally. Engaging students and early career researchers and improving their capacity to understand and find solutions to pressing conservation issues in freshwater systems is a global conservation priority.
In the last 50 years, global conservation practices, resource allocation and plans have all seen a disproportionate and lopsided focus on large mammals (elephants, whales, rhinos, pandas, tigers) and other charismatic species (birds such as Great Indian Bustard, Bald eagles, flamingos, cranes and storks and vultures; reptiles such as King Cobras, Pythons and Sea Turtles; et al.). As a result, the importance, roles and rights of these creatures has been compromised. Also the overall information available about these smaller, less charismatic and seemingly benign creatures has been abysmal, pushing some of them over the brink.
This lopsided approach has also led to absurd and sometimes illogical legal, social, political and management interventions. There have been drastic actions too, such as sanctions for culling, classification as vermin species or ignoring their ecological signification during EIAs and creation of environment management plans (EMPs). Top of the list would be creatures that provide important ecological services such as pollinators (bees, butterflies, birds, bats, etc); scavengers and decomposers (fungi, snails, ants, millipede); pest control and minor predators (odonates, scorpions, centipedes, frogs, snakes, bats). Studies on endemic and localised (small range) species is also limited, especially in case of plants and marine invertebrates.
This full day workshop with focus on identifying the lacunae and finding or developing the appropriate resources and mechanisms to increase public awareness and engagement, options/avenues for research and conservation funding, available media, publications, outreach mechanisms and networks as well as newer ideas of achieving non-protected area focused or hotspot-based conservation. This workshop will also include a complete session on conservation breeding for non-charismatic species and role of urban biodiversity in the big picture.
Is it possible that the scientist and the citizen can join hands to work toward a common purpose within the realm of scientific research and understanding? The involvement of the citizen in science & technology research via what is popularly called ‘Citizen Science’ is a relatively new development where the division between the ‘expert’ scientist and the citizen is sought to be blurred, where the citizen also does the science, and the knowledge that is generated is generated by them jointly. One area of scientific research in which Citizen Science has taken off in the Indian context is that of field ecology, where a number of projects have been initiated by scientists and researchers in active collaboration with citizens.
Main aims and goal of the workshop: What we seek to do in this panel at SCCS is to create a platform for engagement with and discussion on ‘Citizen Science’ initiatives in ecology in India - to understand the various dynamics involved, to see how data and knowledge is created, to understand the motivations of the scientific community in initiating these projects and of the citizens in participating/contributing/collaborating, to see what these means for settled categories of knowledge and knowledge creation and also to see what, if any, policy and on-field impacts does this participation by citizens results in.
Panelists will include:
Ramit Singal, Bird Count India;
Naveen Namboothri, Dakshin Foundation;
Aravind Madhyastha, ATREE;
Gururaja KV, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology
In this workshop, we will try to explore what unconventional means (podcasts, stop-motion videos, social media) are being used today to get people excited about science. And we’ll have a couple of hands-on sessions trying to apply these examples to our own work.
The field of conservation is constantly challenging us to adapt an inter-disciplinary approach to addressing issues. The workshop will introduce a few select art and design thinking tools which participants can integrate into their research in ways that will add a fresh layer or perspective to their work. Relationships, change and other elements can be recorded using creative methods which allow for new visual ways of communication and representation of the same.
Building on feedback received from the short workshop offered last year that concentrated more on introducing the domains of Landscape Architecture & Planning to Conservation Science students - this year we propose a multi-disciplinary long workshop that brings the disciplines of Landscape Planning and Conservation Sciences together, to share different approaches and find common ground. Presenting real examples of intervention from the two domains the workshop will set 3-4 problems for groups of participants to work on, stimulating real life scenarios and competing demands. Each group will briefly present their approach and the workshop will conclude with a session on how we could work together towards a more ecologically sound landscape approach
Geographical Information System (GIS) and remote sensing tools have become an essential component in wildlife research. Open source geospatial (FOSS4G) tools were shown to hold tremendous opportunity. In fact, there is a great potential for the use of free and open source geospatial tools in wildlife ecology research. Wildlife ecologists and practitioners can advocate concentrated efforts towards a common, customisable and free research platform. We introduce the concepts and terms related to the free and open source geospatial software; and then compare the open source tools with the proprietary ones. We finally train the students in applying these tools to solve wildlife and conservation problems through hands on approach.
Social factors play a key role in success or failure of many conservation programmes, yet conservation scientists and practitioners lack awareness, understanding and scientific tools to address these social challenges. Conducting a well-planned social sciences research is not an optional but rather a vital component, along with the natural sciences, for effective conservation decision-making during planning, implementation and management. This workshop, by faculty of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad and field biologists of Wildlife Conservation Society-India/Hyderabad Tiger Conservation Society would attempt to demystify various aspects of social science research needed for conservation planning. Participants would be exposed to range of social science tools and their potential conservation applications. Breakthrough groups would brainstorm on identifying and assessing the social challenges, mapping the conservation priorities, conducting informed surveys and analyzing the data trends(qualitative and quantitative). In the final phase of workshop we would focus on developing some model action plans that integrates social science for conservation practice in order to improve conservation outcomes.
Participants will be exposed to basic concepts of study design. These include asking clear questions. construction of testable research and statistical hypotheses, sampling strategies, avoiding bias and pseudoreplication, deciding on experiments, quasi - experiments or observational studies and considering multiple lines of evidence.
The workshop is for people new to GIS and remote sensing and aims to provide a quick hands-on introduction on an open source, easy to learn software: Q-GIS. The workshop runs through basic elements of GIS and remote sensing using canned datasets including geo-referencing, digitising, raster algebra, image compositing and map-making.
Ornithology would still be in the Dark Ages was it not for ringing or bird marking! Main aim of the workshop is to introduce Bird ringing (also known as Bird banding) as a useful tool for scientific studies. Bird ringing has been described as the research tool that produced the most important results in ornithology in the 20th century. Much of our insight into bird movements, migration, and knowledge on population dynamics, exists because individual birds were fitted with light weight metal alloys (smallest only weighing 0.04g) individually-numbered ring around their leg. Subsequently reports of these ringed birds from other location have helped us to understand a great deal about their movements especially for skulking birds. The workshop will cover basics of bird ringing, how to select nets for different species, selection of ringing sites, how to ring birds, age and sex birds.
This workshop will introduce students to an approach that is the current state of the art with respect to understanding species distribution patterns and dynamics, while recognising that species are not always detected even when present. The occupancy approach, although widely used, is sometimes poorly or wrongly applied––such as when there is a mismatch between the question and the spatial scale, or between the ecological/sampling situation and the model(s) used for inference. In this workshop, we will train students to use the occupancy approach correctly and for appropriate sampling scenarios. In the process, we will cover the importance of occupancy modelling and its underlying conceptual basis, how the occupancy framework can be applied to collect and analyse field data, and end with the many flavours and extensions that lend strength to this powerful modelling technique.
Participants will learn how to use OpenDataKit to set up and manage surveys using mobile devices.
Researchers in biodiversity conservation and ecological sciences need to raise money throughout their career from national and international organizations for conducting their research. Additionally, they often need to apply for fellowship in India and abroad (i) to learn new techniques, (ii) to conduct independent research and (iii) to attend relevant conferences and workshops within and outside the country.The field of ecology and conservation sciences is constantly evolving and has become highly inter and trans-disciplinary in nature during the last few years. Although, academic achievements, research experience, publications and strength of the proposal are the most important criteria for selection but supplementary documents do provide strong support for the application. As formal course on fellowship or grant writing is still not very common at academic/research institutes across India, hence this workshop will provide a holistic idea about fellowship and grant process. Based on 2016 SCCS participants response we would to conduct a long workshop in SCCS 2017.
BitGiving is a community-driven crowdfunding platform. Having worked with multiple organisations and individuals from the environment community, we understand community impact and the best fundraising strategies for the same. Through the workshop, we aim to have the participants understand crowdfunding, how to go about the outreach, build communities and best fundraising strategies.
Conservation strategies for the smaller vertebrates like amphibians and reptiles will not be effective without proper understanding about their taxonomy, distribution, status and ecology. Although, India has a rich and endemic diversity of amphibians and reptiles, this is one of the neglected and least studies groups of vertebrates with a few ‘takers’. From the last two decades, this field is metamorphosing, not only in terms of path breaking scientific findings, which are opening new avenues for advanced research but ‘revived’ interest among youths with diverse interests also. This new influx of researchers / amateurs, who are dedicatedly interested in amphibians and reptiles, if channeled properly, will bring revised understanding about this charismatic group, leading to measurable conservation initiatives.
Earlier most of the research was taxonomy oriented but in this changing scenario efforts are being made towards some dedicated natural history or ecological studies. One of the biggest requirement and impediment for such studies is a strong taxonomic foundation. Unlike other higher vertebrates, there are limited taxonomic resources for Indian amphibians and reptiles. Thus, the aim of this workshop is to provide a proper exposure to the participants about basic taxonomic tools through interactive sessions with the help of museum specimens. A few specimens from the Museum and Field Stations Facility of NCBS will be used during this workshop.
The workshop aims to create an understanding of robust research design while undertaking ecological studies in the field. Students face many constraints in designing effective ecological studies and surveys in the field, particularly relating to (a) clear statistical framework (b) true replication; (c) sufficient sample size, and (d) randomness of sampling. Such issues tend to reduce the amenability of the collected data to statistical analysis and production of robust results. This is especially true of observational studies and field experiments. The workshop, through an interactive approach using real data, will help students understand how to effectively design field studies in a variety of field situations and for a variety of research questions.
Recent years have witnessed a tremendous growth in the use of open source software to address almost every computing requirement. For statistical analyses, computing and graphics researchers are increasingly making use of R – an open source platform. R has gained popularity among ecologists and conservation scientists as an effective platform that efficiently enables them to carry out almost all routine and advanced analyses. The workshop 'How R you doing?' will serve as a primer to introduce participants to the statistical and graphical capabilities of R and prepare them to start using R independently.