Workshop Descriptions 2018

For important instructions and day-wise schedule of workshops, please see the Workshops Schedule & Instructions page


Conservation Genomics

Uma Ramakrishnan • Advanced • Conservation, Technique • 15 Seats • Long • Starts at 09:00 - 16:30 on DAY 2

Over the past several decades, conservation science has benefited tremendously for using genetic tools. In recent times, there has also been a technological revolution in the ability to generate large quantities of genome-wide data fast and relatively cheaply. Can conservation science benefit from this technological advance?
This workshop will explore the basics of conservation genomics. In the first two hours, we will try to define what conservation genomics is, and how it is distinct from conservation genetics. Further, we will use examples of projects and questions (brought by participants) to explore whether conservation genomics appears appropriate. In the second session of 2 hours of the workshop, we will split into two groups: those interested in whole-genome studies and those interested in SNPs and RAD-seq (participants will decide on the day of the workshop). In each of these groups, we will explore what data looks like, what analyses entail and so on. We will conclude with a half an hours’ discussion about what maybe the best way forward.
Participants will be requested to come with an idea of what kinds of questions they might be interested in exploring.

Bioacoustics in Conservation

Anand Krishnan • Basic • Technique • 30 Seats • Long • Starts at 09:00 - 16:30 on DAY 2

The first half of this workshop will be an introduction to the recording and analysis of sound, produced by biological organisms, from insects to marine mammals. We will cover both active and passive acoustic recordings, as well as examples of their applications. Emphasis will be placed also on standard methods to analyze acoustic data, as well as common pitfalls and examples of good practice to use when recording. Finally, discussions will include examples of how this field has contributed to the conservation.

The second half of this workshop will focus on anuran bioacoustics. At present, India has about 400 species of frogs and toads, among which we possess acoustic records of about 60 species (15% of the total anurans in India). However, many of these acoustic records are neither recorded in a standard format nor analyzed with standard methods. This module aims to fill this gap by providing hands on training in standard methods for recording and analyzing anuran calls. The objective here is to illustrate the use of bioacoustics as an important tool in the monitoring and conservation of anurans, as anurans are among the most threatened and fast disappearing group of vertebrates in the world.

Law and politics of conservation

Stella James • Basic • Conservation, Social, Technique • 30 Seats • Long • Starts at 09:00 - 16:30 on DAY 2

The workshop will be divided into 2 sections:

(A) Legalities of wild spaces:
As wildlife biologists, conservation practitioners, tourists or adventure seekers, we often venture into wild spaces. It is critical that we should know important legal provisions when we are in these spaces. The main aim of this section is to make students aware of the various provisions of laws dealing with different systems, like forest spaces [Indian Forest Act, 1929, Forest Conservation Act, 1980, Forest Right Act, 2006, National Forest Policy 2018]; protected areas and wildlife [Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972]; biodiversity [National Biodiversity Act, 2002]; and marine [Coastal Regulation Zone notification 2011 and 2018 (draft), National Fisheries Policy 2017], and the various terms and terminologies associated with these laws and policies.

(B) Politics of conservation law:
While we will focus on the specifics of the laws itself, we will also devote time to understanding the politics of these laws: the history of the laws and policies and why they came into existence; the debates and conflicts around them; how they affect different actors in the space etc. Through the use of case studies and experiences of the resource persons in working with different stakeholders in the conservation space, we hope to be able to deepen how conservation scientists and students view the politico-legal space around conservation.

Bird Ringing for Science and Conservation

Farah Ishtiaq • Basic • Technique, Species • 14 Seats • Long • Starts at 09:00 - 16:30 on DAY 2

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.

Introduction to Systems Thinking and Modeling for Sustainability Research

Mihir Mathur • Basic • Technique • 20 Seats • Long • Starts at 09:00 - 16:30 on DAY 2

Environmental, Social and Economic systems are interrelated and impact each other. Any approach that tries to understand these systems in isolation would often miss out on the interactions happening between them and how they influence each other. Thus, there is a need to have a systems approach towards understanding the interrelationships between these systems and to be able to identify leverage points which can bring about desired changes. Systems thinking and modeling is rooted in feedback theory where the causes and effects are understood in feedback loops, and the non-linear behaviour over time of systems, understood through the feedback structures present in the system. In order to derive deeper insight into the system's dynamics, systems thinking offers tools which can be used to map the structure of the system and identify dominating loops and area of leverage for interventions. The overall goal of the workshop will be to introduce the tools of systems thinking and system dynamics modelling to the participants. To achieve this, the workshop’s objectives will be:
1. To introduce participants to tools of systems thinking and system dynamics.
2. To sensitize participants about the relevance of systems thinking and system dynamics in sustainability research.
3. To showcase applications of systems thinking and system dynamics in the sustainability research field.

How to train your computer?

Nishadh K A • Basic • Technique • 20 Seats • Long • Starts at 09:00 - 16:30 on DAY 2

Free and Open source tools of Python programming language for Geospatial Analysis and Visualization

Python programming language is an easy to read and learn computing language. Its open source nature and wide usage gives rise to strong base of libraries and tools to address any complex and data intensive real world problems. Open source python distribution such as Anaconda simplifies creation of working environment. Tools like Jupyter notebook enhance the work flow which is intuitive, easy to share and collectively learn faster on data analysis using Python. This workshop intent to give introduction to these advantages of Python along with operating system virtualization and version controlling system for programming. It takes demonstration and do it yourself tasks on geospatial data, the workshop hopes to generate interest and show learning pathway for student to comfortable with Python programming language.

The workshop is comprised of three components, in which first component introduce the concept of operating system virtualization, version controlling and literal programming with Python environment and work flow setup. Second component discuss about the Python's applications in Vector data analysis and visualisation, third component on raster data with discussion on using Application Programming interface (APIs) for data sources such as of Google earth engine.

CANCELLED: Applying a Conservation Sciences lens to Land Use Planning

Peeyush Sekhsaria • Basic • Conservation • 20 Seats • Long • Starts at 09:00 - 16:30 on DAY 2

Due to unavoidable circumstances, this workshop (Day 2 - Long) has been cancelled. As an alternative / replacement, the 20 participants registered in this workshop may register for the 2 workshops we will be arranging on Day 2. Announcement about this will be made on Day 1 of the conference.

This workshop explores the role of Conservation Science in Land Use Planning. The workshop, through case studies from diverse professionals; Landscape Planner; Ecologist; Eco-restoration NGO; Development professional will show case ecologically sensitive work being done and the need for conservation science inputs in the same. The case studies will be brief and illustrate work already achieved, each resource person will also explore the question of how Conservation Sciences play/ or can play a role in their work. Using a real site and some basic data sets a design problem will be conceived wherein the participants will address the land use planning issues.

Social science methods in Conservation Research

Rajkamal Goswami • Basic • Social • 26 Seats • Long • Starts at 09:00 - 16:30 on DAY 2

As conservation scientists, hailing from a strictly ecological sciences background, most of us face the problem of applying qualitative and quantitative methods, related to social sciences, while framing and designing our conservation research questions. Our research and coursework don’t leave us with enough time to dwell deep within the social sciences discipline. However, conservation science discourse deals with numerous issues which demand engagement with human or social dimensions of our environment, for example-fire ecology, hunting, grassland ecology, studies on forest products and urban ecology. Comprehensive understanding of such issues necessitate the use and application of social science methods. And yet there are many misgivings, apprehensions and a lack of understanding about how, where and when to use these methods, particularly among natural sciences students.
This workshop is specifically conceptualised and designed for such students. The idea is to make this workshop a short and fun one, so as to reduce, if not completely eliminate the apprehension that most ecologist/wildlife biologist nurture for ‘social sciences’. But at the same time try to comprehensively introduce the participants to concepts and practical hands-on techniques related to social science research methods relevant to conservation science discourse.
On a more ambitious note, we hope that it will prepare and perhaps pique their curiosity to have a far deeper and long-term engagement with the social science-based conservation methods.

How R you doing? Using the R platform for managing and analyzing ecological datasets

Raman Kumar • Basic • Technique • 20 Seats • Long • Starts at 09:00 - 16:30 on DAY 2

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.

Writing Grants and Fellowships in Ecological Sciences

Sabuj Bhatacharyya • Basic • Technique • 50 Seats • Long • Starts at 09:00 - 16:30 on DAY 2

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. 

Euphaea - Odonatology Theory and Practice

Pankaj Koparde • Basic • Technique, Species • 40 Seats • Long • Starts at 09:00 - 16:30 on DAY 2

Odonatology concerns with the study of Order: Odonata, Class: Insecta. Odonates are amongst most fascinating insects to study in terms of their evolutionary biology and ecology. These aquatic insects are hemimetabolous and respond to habitat modifications, hence widely used as ecological indicators. Entomology studies, in general, do not find a strong appeal in mainstream conservation because of ‘megafauna effect’, and hence we propose a workshop on odonates to attract young minds to one of the neglected taxa in conservation. As a team, popular as DragonflyIndia, we have been conducting long workshops from past five years throughout India. The workshop typically includes talks on evolutionary biology, taxonomy, behavioral biology, habitat ecology of odonates and methods in Odonatology. The proposed workshop at SCCS-BNG will cover all the topics mentioned above including a field visit. The workshop will have a strong citizen science element, wherein students will be introduced to some cit sci portals and participate in real-time cit sci data additions. The workshop will include interactive games that aid learning taxonomy, general ecology, and conservation. We recently conducted a series of workshops at YETI-Baroda 2018, which were very successful. The workshop aims at attracting students to study odonates and other insects, and equip them with enough material so that they participate in research and conservation.

Basics of Ant Taxonomy

Pronoy Baidya • Basic • Species • 10 Seats • Long • Starts at 09:00 - 16:30 on DAY 2

Ants are on of the most ubiquitous organisms in this world, and yet the skills to identify and study them are not widely disseminated. This workshop intends to teach basics of ant taxonomy to participants including how to design a study to explore ant diversity and trying to answer basic ecological questions using ants as a model.

Conservation Physiology - an emerging area in wildlife conservation

Govindhaswamy Umapathy • Advanced • Technique • 30 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 4

Conservation physiology, endocrine studies that can contribute conservation of wildlife, a newly recognized discipline draws on a wide range of existing research areas, including theoretical, diagnostic and management studies by enhancing the survival and reproduction of threatened animals. Accurate information about the reproductive biology and health of a species is necessary for the effective management of animals in captivity and wild. With the advent of non-invasive hormone analysis using fecal samples, it is indeed possible to monitor faecal estrogen, progestogen, glucocorticoid and androgen metabolites levels to assess the reproductive status and stress levels of wild animals both on a short and long-term basis. There have been many reports available on hormone monitoring in wild animals using fecal samples, which helped wildlife managers for better management and conservation of endangered animals in captivity and wild. In the workshop, we will be discussing in detail about various procedures/methods involved in non-invasive hormone analysis and recent research findings in the area.

CANCELLED! - National Geographic Society Grant Seminar

Yannik Kuehl • Advanced • Technique • 150 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 1

The National Geographic Society is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization that pushes the boundaries of exploration to further our understanding of our planet and empower us all to generate solutions for a more sustainable future. The aim of the workshop is to introduce the various Grant opportunities of the National Geographic Society to SCCS participants, including for early career applicants. The focus areas of the NGS funding are: wildlife, changing planet and human journey. The workshop will provide an overview of current funding opportunities and previous/current grantees will present their NGS projects.

This workshop has been cancelled and has been replaced by a workshop on Grant writing. Apologise for any inconvenience caused. 

New-age mechanisms to achieve non-protected area focused conservation

Anand Pendharkar • Basic • Conservation • 40 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 3

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 led to absurd and illogical legal, socio-political and management interventions, besides drastic actions such as sanctions for culling, classification as vermin species or ignoring their ecological signification during EIAs and creation of 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, and 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 workshop focuses on identifying lacunae and developing 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, including role of urban biodiversity.

Using Theatre and Drama in Conservation awareness

Vikram Sridhar • Basic • Communication • 20 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 1

Over years performing arts has been a powerful medium in spreading conservation awareness and connecting with communities. Folk arts has many species of flora and fauna ingrained in it . In today’s times theatre is a wonderful way to connect within ourselves and the outside world to understand inter species communication, species relationship with various elements of nature from fire , water , air , earth , space etc.

The workshop through simple games and activities will explore the our own species better , connect and observe other species around us , question notions of ethology deeper all in the framework of just Theatre.

Through acting , reacting and movement the workshop would be a fun way to understand conservational ecology.

The take away could be from looking at animal ethology deeper , using arts for spreading awareness in communities , sharing ideas and scientific facts in a more entertaining way to children.

When and how to use social science methods for conservation

Divya Karnad • Basic • Social • 30 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 1

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.

Integrating Animal Cognition and Conservation Biology

Binoy V V • Basic • Conservation, Technique • 50 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 3

Every moment sense organs of the animals living in the natural habitat are bombarded with information. Depending up on the sensory and cognitive abilities gifted by the evolution to the species and biological significance, response of the individuals to a specific stimulus may range from simple kinesis to an action based on the complex decision making. Hence cognitive abilities of a species - perception, processing of information, learning, memory, decision making etc. – play a vital role in coping with the pressure exerted by the constantly modifying environment on it and enhancing the fitness. However cognitive abilities being the product of the selection pressured experienced during the course of evolution, novel cues such as the Human Induced Rapid Environmental Changes (HIREC) or the individuals of an exotic species, could be decoded wrongly by the cognitive apparatus of the animal leading to the expression of behaviour not relevant to the context. In many contexts, such behavioural modification could work as an evolutionary trap leading to the extermination of the individual from its environment. Additionally, evidences are available to prove that rearing animals in artificial conditions could lead to cognitive deficit and negatively impact the success of restocking and reintroduction programmes. The present workshop will introduce the recent developments happening in the field of animal cognition research and the attempts to apply the results of such studies in developing effective strategies for enhancing the success of restocking and reintroduction of endangered species, management of animal-human conflict and mitigating threat of alien invasive species.

Tell Tale Science

Kabini Amin • Basic • Communication • 10 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 4

In this workshop, we will help you communicate science in ways accessible to lay audiences. Each participant will be teamed up with a designer to create compelling graphics, visuals or stories that will achieve this goal. The team will work on the researcher's original work or on a research paper that they would like to explore. The idea is to break down your research or the paper and develop new ideas of how to communicate this work to a larger audience.

Writing competitive grant applications

Andrea Philott • Basic • Technique • 20 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 3

The writing style and format used in preparing grant applications is different to that used in other forms of writing for conservation science. This workshop will demonstrate a successful grant writing structure and introduce you to a template and other resources that can help organise information in an application so that project context, importance and contribution are clearly communicated. We will also discuss how to find grants suitable for your study.

Career skills for conservation science- Adding value to your CV

Andrea Philott • Basic • Technique • 20 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 1

Several studies have identified the skills most often listed in conservation job advertisements, including disciplinary knowledge, communication, IT, technical, project management, and leadership. Not all the skills can be easily developed during your studies, so the workshop will present practical resources and strategies that students can use to develop skills they don't yet have or strengthen skills in which they have basic proficiency. Building relevant skills will add value to your CV, and help participants be more competitive for jobs and graduate positions.

Interacting with Data for Beginners: exploratory analysis in R

Aniruddha Marathe • Basic • Technique • 15 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 1

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 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

Qualitative Social Science Methods for Conservation Research

Arshiya Bose • Basic • Technique, Social • 30 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 3

This workshop explores qualitative research methods that can be used to study conservation questions. Using our own PhD research studies as examples, we will discuss how we went about framing questions and designing our research studies. We will also describe our on-field experiences with three research methods (a) ethnography and participant observation of the changing relationship between women and land in rural Maharashtra (b) historical archival work on the history of land and forest use in coffee landscapes and (c) open-ended interviews and discourse analysis of the negotiations between state and central governments on forest policies. We will ask candid questions about the limitations and value of qualitative methods, the right time to use such methods and on the overlaps and contradictions with quantitative research methods.

Open Content – Using Creative Commons Licence

Anju Baroth • Basic • Technique • 25 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 4

Journey from All Rights Reserved to Some Rights Reserved. A workshop on Practical guidelines for the use and application of open content licences. It will answer your questions on:
Can I protect my work yet share it without fear of data theft? How do open content licences work? How do I choose the most suitable licence for my individual needs? Where can I find open content online? These are only some of the questions which these guidelines try to answer. By this, we hope to contribute to the informed use of open content licences.

How to be a birding buddy

Garima Bhatia • Basic • Communication, Technique • 30 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 4

The Birding Buddy workshop is for birders interested in spreading the joy of birding to children and will cover a variety of techniques and activities to make learning fun while getting children excited about birds. Apart from regular and conventional activities like bird walks/talks, the workshop will also cover creative avenues including bird sketching, poetry, skits and games, making learning fun while sensitizing children about birds. The broader goal of the workshop is to spread awareness and love for nature through birds.

The workshop will include sessions on:
1. The goals of bird education: what are we trying to do?
2. ‘Traditional’ activities and how to make them more effective.
3. Creative activities like sketching, games and poetry

Research Design for Ecological Studies

Ghazala Shahabuddin • Basic • Technique • 25 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 1

The workshop aims to create an understanding of robust research design for undertaking ecological studies in the field. Students face many constraints in designing effective ecological studies and surveys in the field, particularly relating to (a) formulation of robust hypothesis (b) clear statistical framework (c) replication; (d) sufficient sample size, (e) 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.

Writing for Researchers

Karthik Ramaswamy • Basic • Technique • 40 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 1

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. The workshop is driven by the philosophy that writing is a craft. This means that with hard work and the rigorous application of certain principles, all of us can become better writers. This workshop will go over a few of these principles.

Common and Uncommon Spiders of India: An Overivew

Manju Siliwal • Basic • Species • 40 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 3

Spiders are very much part of our daily life but remain unnoticed as most of them are small in size and do not interfere in our routine except for expanding their cob-web to maximum area in house and garden. Result of which, spiders are 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 in observing and studying spiders by amateur and researchers have 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 prospectus of research career on this group.

The complexity and variety in human large carnivore interactions in India

Nikit Surve • Basic • Conservation • 30 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 1

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.

Language & Ecology – Communicating Nature Through Local Languages

Jeganathan P • Basic • Communication, Technique • 40 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 4

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.

In this workshop we will introduce students through an interactive lecture on importance of using local languages, challenges in writing and translating into local languages, aspects to consider while translating ecological concepts, importance of documenting and redeeming traditional nomenclature and coining new scientific terminologies. We also briefly discuss about the current status of nature writing in different Indian languages. As a part of this workshop we would also ask the participant to produce a write-up in their language on the subject of their interest and give information on how and where to publish it.

Basics of Photography

Prasenjeet Yadav • Basic • Technique • 30 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 4

This workshop is for people who are keen in using camera for their data collection or communication but have very little working knowledge of photography. This workshop will focus on the basics of photography right from technicalities to basic composition.

Diversity in animal genders and sexuality

Priya Iyer • Basic • Conservation • 50 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 4

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.

The study of Animal behaviour and its applications for conservation

Samira Agnihotri • Basic • Technique • 30 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 1

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.

Introduction to GIS using Quantum GIS

Shivani Agarwal • Basic • Technique • 15 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 4

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 using canned datasets including geo-referencing, digitising and map-making.

Accessing and using data from open platforms

Suhel Quader • Basic • Technique • 20 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 1

Data is an essential part of conservation research and science. Collecting primary data however is often tedious and extremely resource intensive with respect to both time and money. This however should not be a constraint today thanks to the existing and growing number of platforms that provide open access ecological data. These platforms include citizen science as well as published data of other researchers.

In this workshop we would like to encourage conservationists to engage with this treasure of available data; to demonstrate that conservation can be done by anyone and does not always have to be resource heavy. Over the course of this workshop we will discuss how and where to download ecological data from, how to use the data and associated metadata and the potential pitfalls in analysis and interpretation of these secondary datasets.

Managing and working effectively with people and teams

Vena Kapoor • Basic • Conservation, Technique • 20 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 3

Whether you are a researcher in a conservation organisation, a PhD student, or run your own project you will need to 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), common sense, open communication and through the building of trust. 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 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 or with my supervisor?
We hope to also use the participant's own experiences to interact, engage, debate and highlight the relevance of these concepts in real-life scenarios.

Citizen Science for ecology in India - Experiences, opportunities, challenges : Panel Discussion

Pankaj Sekhsaria • Basic • Conservation • 100 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 3

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.

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.

Linear infrastructure development and mitigation measures for connectivity conservation

Milind Pariwakam • Basic • Conservation, Technique • 30 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 3

India has the world’s 2nd largest network of roads. With a pace of 22 kms of road construction targeted per day, the road network is soon poised to overtake the USA to become the largest road network in the world. The science of road ecology remains in its infancy in India. WCT has been working to build capacity in this field among practitioners in India, Nepal and Bhutan and recently organised an international workshop in collaboration with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (Feb, 2018). WCT wishes to organise a workshop focusing subject of linear infrastructure development and mitigation measures for connectivity conservation.

The workshop aims to cover the following:
1) Overview on Road and rail network in India
2) Existing legal and policy issues applicable to the sector; opportunities and lacunae
3) Real life case studies on legal and policy issues so that participants are familiar with the policy and legal framework (Wildlife (Protection) Act, Forest (Conservation) Act, Environment (Protection) Act) (NTCA Tiger Conservation Plans): We aim to dicide the participants into groups of 5 and ask them to analyse a few case studies from the legal / policy perspective.
4) Mitigation measures: Technical solutions and issues
5) Case study of one road and one rail project; discussion on ways of engaging with policymakers. We aim to present on case in detail and then divide the participants into groups of five each and ask them to work out solutions and present their findings
6) Policy framework for connectivity conservation and linear infra development; a win win solution.
7) Citizen Science: Familiarising participants with using citizen science and the Roadkills app for data collection.

Towards Improved Disease Surveillance and Management

Munib Khanyari • Basic • Conservation, Technique • 50 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 1

Disease transmission between domestic and wild animals is crucial for agricultural economics and conservation. Livestock is the main source of income for nearly 3 billion people who live on less than 2 US$ a day, grazing nearly 1/3 of the world’s land surface.
For instance, in 2016, c.90% of Mongolian Saiga, Saiga tatarica mongolica died from PPR virus, caught from livestock. Alternatively, in various parts of Africa, Buffalo Syncerus caffer are an importance source of foot and mouth disease to livestock causing enormous loses for local resource-poor communities. Hence, studying disease is ecologically meaning and essential to bind wildlife conservation with economic security of communities.
Even though there has been a rise in studies addressing disease ecology, sparingly little is known from the wild. This is primarily as contemporary methods needed to study disease transmission are logistically and financially intensive and not field friendly. This has led to disease surveillance and management being rather reactive, globally.
Through this workshop we aim to share knowledge of a technique called FLOTAC method. This is a novel field friendly, cost-effective and logistically simple method to assess parasitic burdens and diversity in organisms’ faeces. This is the crucial first layer of information which if obtained proactively, can be used to understand nuances of disease transmission in a system and lead to timely interventions. This method is applicable both for the marine and terrestrial systems. Participants will be practically thought the FLOTAC method, identify parasites, analyse data and discuss value of such data.

The publication process: an interactive discussion

E.J. Milner Gulland • Basic • Technique • 50 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 1

Led by:
E.J. Milner-Gulland (Senior Editor, Conservation Letters and Oryx)
Harini Nagendra (Senior Editor, Conservation Letters and Remote Sensing for Ecology and Conservation)

The aim of this workshop is to give participants a feel for how the publication process works, from the perspectives of potential authors, reviewers and editors. We will start by outlining the process from submission to publication, and highlighting the decisions you need to make at each stage. We will talk about different journal niches and how to chose where to publish your work, also about how to become a member of an editorial board and why this might be something you would want to do. We will open the floor up to questions and for others to share their experiences and perspectives. After a comfort break, we will break into groups to discuss particular issues in more detail, before reporting back in plenary. Based on the interests of the attendees, these groups could include: a) the future of scientific publication including open access, b) how to collaborate on writing a group paper, c) publication ethics, d) how to write a compelling paper. E.J. and Harini between them have many years of experience of publication, as editors, reviewers and authors, and are interested to share their perspectives and to discuss new ideas and opinions from young conservation scientists.

Effective human-elephant conflict mitigation through appropriate use of electric fencing

Prithviraj Fernando • Basic • Conservation • 20 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 4

The workshop aims to cover the following points:

  1. Principles of an electric fence
  2. Use of electric fence as an elephant barrier
  3. Types of electric fencing
    • Location:
      • Linear
      • Enclosure
      • Exclosure
    • Temporal
      • Permanent
      • Seasonal
    • Management
      • Institutional
      • Community-based
  4. Breaking of fences by elephants
    • Possible technological solutions
  5. Steps in implementing Community-based electric fences
    • Awareness
    • Community organization
    • Community contribution
    • Fence design and plan
    • Construction
    • Monitoring and maintenance

Neutral Theory and its application in conservation genetics

Ranajit Das • Advanced • Technique • 25 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 3

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.

Conservation optimism – a movement for all

E.J. Milner Gulland • Basic • Conservation • 50 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 3

In this workshop we will start with a presentation explaining the background to conservation optimism, why we feel it is important, and how it fits within the broader discourse on the future of the planet. We start by talking about how damaging and disempowering an unremitting “gloom and doom” message is for both conservationists and the general public. We present evidence from psychology that a more positive framing can lead to better engagement with conservation messages among the public and highlight the potential for isolation, burnout and despair amongst conservation professionals. We next introduce the Conservation Optimism movement and set it within the context of sister Optimism movements (Ocean Optimism, Earth Optimism). We lay out the philosophy underlying conservation optimism, its aims and theory of change, and its ambitions as a grassroots network.

Following a Q&A, we break people into groups to discuss:
a) is there a need for Conservation Optimism? b) what are the challenges and pitfalls and how could they be overcome? c) how can it inspire change in the general public, government, business, and engage new sectors in conservation? d) how can it support conservation professionals to do their jobs better and improve their wellbeing? e) how could we as individuals engage with such a movement? In plenary we will discuss the answers to these questions and wrap up with a way forward.

Why and how of primate census and survey

Narayan Sharma • Basic • Species • 25 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 3

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. Noctournal 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 noctoural primates inhabiting diverse habitats.

Making effective presentations

Rathnavel Pandian • Basic • Technique, Communication • 25 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 4

As budding researchers, most of the presentations we give and attend are critiqued based on the data and subject of the presentation. The ways of presentations are often taken for granted, and least critiqued in science circles. This workshop offers a different, holistic perspective that focuses deeply on “why” we make a presentation, understanding of which would organically lead us to “how” we should make an effective presentation. The workshop will introduce unique perspectives such as philosophy of giving a presentation (utilitarianism), interpretivism (many truths) and how it relates to making the presentation effective. Though researchers are often trained on basics of giving presentations such as “using big, effective fonts”, “minimizing text in slides”, etc., this workshop will enable the researcher to go deeper in understanding what makes a good presentation stick in our mind. Besides that, the workshop will also focus on how to be a good academic audience in a scientific presentation, as often personal comments are disguised as questions. The workshop will also help the researchers learn to develop a framework of creating presentations, which will reduce the time for making them without loss in quality. 

What will the participants get out of the workshop?

  1. Basic “Do”s and “Don’t”s of a presentation
  2. How NOT to do a science presentation
  3. Philosophy of utilitarianism, and how it is helpful in science presentations
  4. Concepts of positivism and interpretivism – how it relates to science presentations
  5. Importance of repetition through rephrasing in science presentations
  6. How to ask meaningful, good questions as an audience in science presentations
  7. Criteria for deciding which data to use in a presentation and which to discard

Too Much or Too Little? Understanding Tourism Carrying Capacity : Panel Discussion

Nayana Udayashankar • Basic • Conservation, Social, Technique • 100 Seats • Short • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 4

The relationship between tourism and conservation has always been complex and layered: tourism could aid and sustain conservation, yet, it could also pose a challenge for conservation itself. Perhaps, the questions we need to ask to unravel this conundrum are, ‘how much tourism is good’ and ‘what kind of tourism is good’?

The concept of Tourism Carrying Capacity developed as a response to this question and provided a way to assess the tolerance level of resources and limits of use beyond which degradation or negative impacts occur at a tourist destination. It evolved from an understanding that every place has multiple dimensions such as ecological limits of the area, the economic benefits or loss from tourism, the social and cultural relationships between the people and the environment and the political participation of the local people in decisions about both tourism and conservation.
The panel brings together a wide range of people with expertise in wildlife biology, marine biology and community based conservation, who all have grappled with the multiple questions that tourism poses. The panellists will try to unpack the relationship between tourism and conservation and examine if assessing Tourism Carrying Capacity is necessary, the policies and practices that are in place and the considerations that need to be kept in mind for such an assessment.

Grant writing

Sabuj Bhatacharyya • Basic • Technique • 150 Seats • • Starts at 14:00 - 16:30 on DAY 1

Researchers in biodiversity conservation and ecological sciences need to raise money throughout their career from national and international organizations for conducting  (i) their independent research,(ii)  to learn new techniques, 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 a formal course on grant writing is still not very common at academic/research institutes across India, hence this workshop will provide a holistic idea about the grant process, focusing on some common grants that are available for students. 
Prasenjeet Yadav, national Geographic photographer, will join the discussion to cover some of the grants available from the National Geographic Society.