The Telegraph

Meet focuses on conservation talks

The setting was perfect. When 16-year-old Sriranjani Iyer from Coimbatore and 40-year-old Suhel Quader from Bangalore assembled at the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IIT) the stage was set to share their tales of conservation.

Around 250 participants, including students and research scholars from all over the country, got together for the third edition of Young Ecologist Talk and Interact (YETI) 2011 that began formally at IIT Guwahati yesterday for three days.

The largest student meet on ecology and conservation in the country, YETI was moved to a different location for the first time.

Scientist of National Centre for Biological Science (NCBS), Bangalore, Suhel Quader, said: “To host YETI, IIT Guwahati is indeed one of the most suitable locations. In the perfect backdrop lushness, scientists, ecologists and environmentalists assemble to discuss nature.”

Quader as a resource person has been a part of YETI since its inception in 2008 at the NCBS. It was only from 2009 that YETI was held on a national platform at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.

“Unlike in the third edition, in the first and second conference there was an overlapping of participants who joined. This year however, the meeting opened up to different spectrum of crowd,” Quader said.

Barring the 40 volunteers, YETI 2011 is being supported by 20 universities, 38 institutes and NGOs, 40 colleges from this region in addition to several independent researchers. The conference this year has been organised in partnership with the Centre for the Environment of the the IIT.

On Monday, YETI 2011 started with the curtain raiser of a pre-conference workshop. According to YETI volunteers, at the workshop guidelines were given out to the participants for better presentation and data analysis.

For former head of the Centre for the Environment of IIT Guwahati, Chandan Mahanta, YETI 2011 means gaining and losing nothing. “It is a unique platform where both research scholars and students have assembled to talk about conservation science, ecology and environment, and explore the unknown. We welcome YETI back to IIT Guwahati again as there are numerous prospects available in this region,” he said.

Sriranjani Iyer, a student of Class XI from Coimbatore, got to know about YETI in November this year at a bird conference in Bangalore. She immediately took the decision to attend YETI and found it to be informative. “It is the one stop where one will get to know about the current projects in the environment sector. I learned about new techniques and new ways to approach topics here,” she said.

Among the oral and plenary session, the conference also had speed talks on posters and workshops on simple mathematical models of ecology and animal behaviour amongst others. Such was the demand for the workshops that students would rush to the counters for registering themselves under different topics.

Though the venue next year is yet to be finalised, participants from Delhi, Pune and Calcutta have come forward to take the initiative of hosting YETI. The decision will be taken after the volunteers vote during the discussion.

“We do not insist in having a head in YETI to take decision. Hence, once this conference is over, we will sit for a discussion where the proposals by different cities will be reviewed. Subsequently, decision will be taken considering the votes of the volunteers,” said Hari Sridhar, a YETI volunteer from Bangalore.

Attending the meet for the first time, Priyanka Runwal from Oxford University discussed about the pollen loads structure on hummingbirds in Peru. “My paper was about pollen loads on hummingbird species vary, and this has implications for gene flow among hummingbird-pollinated plants. It was a unique experience as YETI for me is quality criticism,” she said.

K. Zeller, a resource person of Yeti who had done his research from South America, submitted his presentation on jaguars and identifying its transit corridors.

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