Observational study of animal behaviour and its importance for animal conservation

Presented by Nishant M.S, Shreekant Deodhar and Karpagam Chelliah

Workshop Overview:

This workshop is for students interested in learning about conducting systematic observations of animal behaviour. The workshop will start with a discussion on sources of observational bias and how the biases may be removed by appropriate sampling strategies. In the second session participants will get practical experience in sampling behaviour systematically. Behaviour data collected by participants will be analysed and interpreted in the third session. In the fourth session participants will be introduced to some tools that may be used to collect and score behaviour data efficiently. In the fifth session case studies of successful applications of animal behaviour studies to conservation problems will be presented. In the final session two existing conservation problems in India will be presented and participants will be asked to identify what aspects of animal behaviour are crucial to understand in order to tackle these problems.

Detailed description of the workshop:

A. Introduction to systematic sampling of behaviour (20 minutes)

B. Practicals: participants divided into three groups, one each for: instantaneous scans, focal animal sampling, focal group sampling

Constructing an ethogram
Making a data sheet
Observing and scoring behaviour
Break (10 minutes)
[40 minutes for all of the above mentioned activities]

C. Data analysis (30 minutes)

D. Some tools for easier data collection and analysis (5 minutes)

Video cameras
Tools to measure interanimal distances
Tools to measure animals (ex: body size, horn length etc.)
Behaviour scoring software (open source and others)

E. Case studies/examples of knowledge from classical behaviour studies that have been successfully applied to solve a wildlife conservation (10 minutes)

F. State two current unsolved conservation problems (in India) and ask the participants what aspect of behaviour of these animals are crucial to understand in order to find a solution for this problem (15 minutes)

Information to participants:

Handouts of a list of suggested readings for aspiring animal behaviourist will be distributed


Nishant M.S

His primary interests lie in the study of elephants and their interaction with humans. Nishant is a graduate student at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore.

Shreekant Deodhar

Karpagam Chelliah

Capacity: 18 Students