Workshop details

January 17, 2016

11:00 – 13:30 (2.5 hrs)

Designing a robust social science based research – how to avoid some common pitfalls

This workshop will introduce participants to the common challenges, biases and errors encountered in researching issues on the interface of environment and society, especially in the context of urban researchers working in rural landscapes. It will highlight some common threats to validity of research findings arising from differences in culture and power between the researcher and her respondents. It will then introduce a toolbox of mixed methods that can be used independently or in combination to address some of these threats and biases. I expect the participants to be in the early or mid-stages of research design, so that they can relate to the discussion through the lens of their own work.

Resource person: Dr. Asmita Kabra

Capacity: Limited

Understanding Insects: An Ecological Approach towards Conservation

The workshop will focus on an approach towards integrating insects into wider conservation scenario. We will focus into basic sampling strategy to study major groups of insects, taxonomic identification and how to handle data for meaningful ecological conclusion. The major groups of insect taxa which will be focused are Lepidoptera (Butterfly & Moth), Coleoptera (Beetles), Odonates (Dragonfly & Damselfly), Diptera (Flies), Hymenoptera (Bees & Wasps) and Spiders. Key anatomical structures for identification of these groups will be discussed. The basic statistical approaches and important software to handle insect community data will be discussed. Another focus of the workshop will be how insects can be used in conservation monitoring for habitat assessment and climate change.

Resource persons: Dr. Upamanyu Hore, Dr. Manish Bhardwaj, Dr. Abesh Kumar Sanyal and Angshuman Raha

Capacity: No Limit

Sampling for studying herpetofauna

We will try to discuss about Taxonomy of reptiles and amphibians. It will be interesting to know ecological interpretation of taxonomic characters in groups such as snakes, lizards, tadpoles and turtles. We will try to integrate morphology, ecology and evolutionary perspectives in herpetology. We would also like to discuss about diversity, distribution and conservation status and some intriguing research questions for Indian herpetofauna. We would also like to discuss about various tools and techniques used in herpetological research and important web portals dealing with herpetological knowledge.

Resource persons: Dr. Abhijit Das, Prudhvi Raj, Chetan Rao

Capacity: No Limit

Theories and concepts of conservation genetics

Most of us are familiar with the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium but what does it really mean and why is it so relevant to conservation genetics? We will focus on the role of biological processes like mutation, migration, random drift and selection on populations. This session will introduce participants to this fundamental aspect in conservation genetics through games and discussions

Resource persons: Mr. Subhankar Chakraborty and Ms. Vishnupriya Kolipakam

Capacity: Limited

14:30 – 17:00 (2.5 Hrs)

Introduction to Occupancy Surveys and Estimation

Occupancy, or the proportion of area occupied/used by a species, has become a commonly used population parameter to address ecological questions. This workshop will introduce the participants to the concept, assumptions, estimation, and applications of ‘Occupancy’. It will a) explain the development and application of key occupancy models by decoding their mathematical jargons; b) discuss how to design occupancy surveys that avoids violating assumptions and generates robust inferences; and c) provide hands-on experience on collecting and analyzing occupancy data through a backyard experiment. This workshop will be ideal for ecology students/researchers who work on biodiversity assessment/monitoring projects, and are at their early stages of collecting field data.

Resource persons: Dr. Sutirtha Dutta, Dr. Tapajit Bhattacharya

Capacity: Limited

Phylogenetic Biology: Using Trees

Interest in ecology is often focused on biodiversity, which is a result of evolutionary processes. As such, phylogenetic approaches are critically important for understanding of the past, and thus planning for, the future of biodiversity. The workshop would consist of a basic introduction to phylogenetic studies, with an emphasis on applications in systematics and ecology. Presentation interspersed with manual exercises and introduction to some commonly used software.

Resource persons: Professor R Geeta, Eapsa Berry, Renu Puri, Paramananda Barman

Capacity: Limited

Prerequisites: Please go through the following documents 1) Phylogenetic Biology Geeta Botanica 2015, 2) Phylogenetic Biology YETI Blurb and 3) Phylogenetics Glossary YETI 2016.

Marine wildlife – Research gaps and the way ahead.

Studying top predators of aquatic systems in India (otters, marine mammals and sharks): Scope, Importance, and sampling methods

A world of bizarre life histories, loud singing mammals, colourful sessile gardens filled with life, minute creatures producing fluorescence, all living in rhythm with each other, the moon, and the ocean currents – the aquatic is a world that Indian ecologists have not acknowledged enough. Marine biodiversity is treated as a resource, but managing that which we use requires that we understand. For those otherwise inclined, the awe and wonder in studying aquatic wildlife is waiting for you. The workshop will introduce you to what we know about sharks, marine mammals and otters in India and the importance of filling gaps in knowledge. We will do a short exercise, where each group will be asked for two research questions and sampling methods to answer these questions will be discussed. Studying marine wildlife is yet in its nascent stage and I hope this workshop encourages you to look beyond the sands.

Resource persons: Dipani Sutaria

Capacity: Limited

Introducing QGIS for wildlife research

The workshop aims to familiarize the concept of GIS and Remote sensing for the wildlifers using the easy to use open source technology. We plan to provide a practical learning of preparing and utilizing field information for spatial analysis. We intend to show how GIS could help design field surveys, import the field data into spatial domain and use it for ecological analysis and consequently composing maps. The incorporation of input files in different open-source software like QGIS and GoogleEarth will be practically outlined. The workshop will help students with no GIS background to design their research utilizing the spatial tool and also introduce them to applications of GIS in various wildlife arena.

Resource persons: Ms. Swati Saini, Dr. Prafull Singh, Mr. Ninad Mungi, Ms. Ridhima Solanki

Capacity: Limited

Prerequisites: Laptops installed with QGIS and Google Earth

17:30 – 20:00 (2.5 Hrs)

The web of design: Untangling complexities of research design for ecological studies

Basic statistical assumptions are often seriously violated in ecological studies because of large scale variations and incongruous assumptions. Obstacles such as the large scale of ecological processes or cost limitations hinder field replications and more often it is difficult to identify replicate units. Correct approach may require complex designs and unusual statistical techniques. To address these problems, we have fashioned this workshop as a toolbox containing the equipment necessary to access statistical techniques, along with some cautionary notes about their application. This workshop will encourage students for the correct use of well-known design approaches, and to make some potentially very useful but less well known techniques that help towards effectively answering questions in ecological science. Students will learn how to plan research and avoid pitfalls; what basic deductions can be drawn from specific research design; how scale of study is critical for answering different kinds of questions; and finally some general suggestions on making inferences from the analysis of ecological data.

Resource persons: Dr. Upamanyu Hore, Dr. Sabyasachi Dasgupta

Capacity: Limited

Quantitative Methods for Ecologists

Numbers are at the heart of all quantitative data analyses. But the numbers themselves are not the goal of our analyses. The goal is to understand the world better. How can we more effectively use numbers in the service of this goal? In this workshop we will explore broad principles of quantitative analyses – what should we be looking for, and which numbers are the most informative for our understanding of the world? Along the way will will talk about research design as well as common analytical methods, and the importance of data visualization in exploring data and communicating findings to others. Participants will not be instructed how to carry out particular statistical procedures; rather we will discuss more fundamental issues of design, measurement, analysis and visualization. The target audience is early-level students; not advanced students or those who have taken a good statistics course in the past.

Resource person: Dr. Suhel Quader

Capacity: Limited

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

The last 15 years have witnessed a tremendous growth in the use of open source software to address almost every computing requirement. Not only have the open source software opened up avenues for students to access cutting-edge technology, they have also put forth huge volumes of reference material and guiding information on the internet. The workshop ‘How R you doing?’ will demonstrate the advanced statistical and graphical capabilities of the open source R platform.

This workshop will familiarize participants with some basic features of R and guide them how to open files, manage data and carry out simple statistical analyses with R. Most importantly, the workshop hopes to aid students to get through the steep initial learning curve for R and familiarize them with carrying out routine statistical analyses with R. Once they become comfortable with the R computing environment they would be better prepared to independently explore R further and use it for advanced analyses relevant to their specific requirements.

This workshop is intended for students who are familiar with basic statistics and want to carry out analysis on ecological data. It will be useful for students who have not yet had a chance to use R to analyse ecological data. The workshop will also benefit those who have tried using it but found it overwhelmingly difficult to get started.

Through this workshop students will become comfortable with the R computing environment and basic operating procedures. This will make them better prepared to independently explore R further and use it for advanced analyses relevant to their specific requirements.

Resource persons: Dr. Raman Kumar & Dr. Soumya Prasad

Capacity: Limited

Prerequisites: Participants need to get their laptops as this will be a hands-on workshop. Participants should install the following (and in sequence):

  1. R [base package] from http://cran.r-project.org
  2. Rstudio from http://www.rstudio.com/

Those using Linux/Ubuntu may have to follow a slightly different way of installing R and Rstudio. The instructions are given here: http://cran.r-project.org/bin/linux/ubuntu/README.

However, if they find this confusing there are a couple of helpful videos at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8wx4HY9me0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdnoG-Y0rqg

January 18, 2016

14:00 – 15:30 (1.5 hrs)

Writing Grants in Ecological Sciences

This workshop aims to give a board and holistic idea about various fellowship/grant available for ecological research. We will discuss about general procedure for application, identifying potential supervisor/collaborator, first communication with potential supervisor/collaborator, writing a statement of purpose (SOP), writing grant or research proposal, interviews and some common do and don’ts. While discussing we will use some fellowship (Fulbright fellowship, Ravisankaran Inlaks fellowship) and research grant (Pro-Natura Foundation, Raptor conservation research foundation, DBT/DST, Marie Curie) as potential example. Target audience will be anyone (Bachelors/Masters/Ph.D./Postdoc) interested in applying for a fellowship/grant.

Resource persons: Dr. Sabuj Bhattacharyya, Ms. Monica Kaushik

Capacity: No Limit

Basic techniques for surveying and monitoring birds, with an introduction to eBird a global platform for documenting birds

Birds are reliable indicators of ecosystem condition. Surveying and monitoring birds gives insights into ecosystem health and ecological changes.

This workshop will introduce the participants with the basics of standard techniques used for carrying out field surveys for birds. It will then demonstrate how valuable ecological information can be obtained by simply maintaining lists of birds that we routinely see, and how simple coordinated projects can help monitor birds using eBird, a global listing platform to document birds.

Resource person: Dr. Raman Kumar

Capacity: No Limit

Not Dots on a Map: Conserving non-protected areas and Important Bird Areas

Think about your favourite species or habitat. Is it protected? Probably not. India megabiodiverse country with many species and habitats requiring protection. However, conservation is focused on a protected-area approach. How do we prioritise sites for conservation, and what do we get out of such exercises? We will discuss the relevance of conserving non protected areas, especially Important Bird Areas. We will discuss strategies to conserve non-protected biodiverse areas, including working with the press, working with the government and working with conservationists. We will ultimately aim at harnessing energy for conservation by getting meaningfully involved, and not just by getting angry.

Resource person: Ms. Neha Sinha

Capacity: No Limit

Do’s and Don’ts: from field sample collection to molecular genetic analysis for ecological studies

The workshop will be useful for early career researchers (M.Sc. and Ph.D. students) for “Planning their study/projects”, for instance- type of samples and markers used for addressing ecological questions”. The workshop will provide the insights of different molecular markers and their possible applications in monitoring wildlife populations.

Topic covered:

  1. Collection, documentation and storing varying sample types
  2. DNA extraction, PCR and sequencing in species determination
  3. Microsatellites analysis for population genetic studies (heterozygosity, inbreeding, bottleneck, metapopulations, demography etc.)

Resource person: Dr. Mukesh Thakur, Dr. Randeep Singh, Dr. Vipin Sharma, Mr. Sujeet Kumar Singh

Capacity: Limited

January 19, 2016

16:15 – 17:45 (1.5 hrs)

Managing research workflow: An introduction to reference management to learn, discover, organise and write up your research

In this workshop, we will provide a brief introduction to research workflow beginning with asking the right questions. The primary focus, however, is to introduce young students and researchers to develop a streamlined research workflow through use of appropriate reference management tools. Often young students find discovering new research, organising their collection of papers, maintaining notes and highlights as they read new research to be a tedious mechanical task. Searching for that one paper that you liked in a mess of PDF files in multiple folders becomes a nightmare! Post this workshop, participants can expect to discover, manage, annotate, query and write their own research in a powerful and easy manner.

Resource persons: Dr. Narayan Sharma, Dr. Rishi Kumar Sharma

Capacity: Limited

Prerequisites: 1. We request participant to install Mendeley https://www.mendeley.com and EndNote (trial version) http://endnote.com

Concepts and Methodologies in Animal Behaviour Research

People working in both field biology and experimental studies have historically witnessed and measured the ubiquitous variations in behavior, both within and across populations. The behavioural variations that emerge/sustain under certain ecological conditions contribute to evolutionary processes. Several management decisions and conservation initiatives have relied on systematic studies of animal behavior. In this workshop, we would focus on various methods of observational studies in animal behavior. In this interactive workshop, we will also briefly bring forward the methodologies from some of the historical and contemporary studies on animal behavior.

Resource persons: Dr. Subhankar Chakraborty, Dr. Rishi Kumar

Capacity: Not Limited

Capture & Restraint in wild animals: Field techniques and practical considerations

Capturing wild animals is as much an art as a science. Even though capturing wild animals for food or hide is as old as human existence on earth, in today’s world, reasons for catching wild animals and the techniques being employed to capture them are more diverse. Millions of wild animals are captured each year as part of population regulation activities, wildlife management efforts, disease control programs, conflict mitigation and research activities. The successful capture and restraint of wild animals often requires a combination of physical and chemical restraint, using a wide variety of capture and handling devices that are constantly evolving. Researchers seeking to capture and release animals should be certain that their capture methods are humane and that animals are released in the best possible condition. This workshop will provide a brief exposure to both physical and chemical capture methods and field techniques, which can be employed to humanely capture wild animals for research purpose.

Resource person: Dr. Sanath Krishna Muliya

Capacity: Limited

Basics of Wildlife Photography

The 90 minutes workshop will cover topics such as understanding the elements of a good photography, importance of subject knowledge and the basic concepts of digital photography such as exposure, depth of field, white balance, compositions etc. Some of the issues with ethics of nature and wildlife photography will be discussed. This workshop will be at very basic level and participants with no prior experience in digital photography may also join. Since this will be a theoretical discussion only, therefore bringing cameras is not mandatory.

Resource person: Mr. Udayan Borthakur

Capacity: Limited

January 20, 2016

13:45 – 15:15 (1.5 hrs)

Leveraging Technology for Conservation

The workshop will offer a brief overview of the potential that technology has in conservation, specifically focusing on the GIS & Spatial aspects and in addressing Human Wildlife Conflict. Specific technologies currently being developed/tested in the field will be discussed. Attendees will be encouraged to develop projects based on existing and new ideas for leveraging technology for conservation. Selected ideas may be supported by WWF-India for further development and testing in the field.

Resource persons: Shashank Srinivasan, Harshad Karandikar, Yash Shethia, Joydeep Bose, Neha Midha

Capacity: Limited

Bio Telemetry: A Conservation Tool

To aid in understanding the threat and cause of wildlife and the assessment of wildlife species, Biologists are increasing relying on remote assessment using biotelemetry. These tools offer increasingly sophisticated means (e.g. large-scale telemetry arrays, fine-scale positioning, and use of physiological and environmental sensors) of evaluating the behavior, spatial ecology, energetic, and physiology of free-living animals in their natural environment. In this workshop you will learn all about the real-life application of the leading research tool in wildlife management: radio telemetry. Participants will get to use actual radio telemetry equipment.

Resource persons: Mr. Ujjwal Kumar, Mr. Ayan Sadhu

Capacity: Limited

The Importance and Future Trends of Sharing and Publishing Biodiversity Data

Biodiversity data collection involves substantial cost. However, the use of biodiversity data is restricted due to the paucity of records available in easily shareable digital form. Natural history collections in museums, herbaria and Institutes are valuable repositories of biodiversity data that could play a crucial role in formulating conservation plans. This goal can only be met if we provide a framework to create rich, up-to-date metadata describing each data resource and enabling users to assess the fitness for use of these resources to meet their needs. The focus of the workshop will be on Biodiversity Informatics i.e. need for publishing data, tools and protocols available for data publishing, data paper, data licensing and national data policy.

Resource person: Dr. Gautam Talukdar

Capacity: Limited

Prerequisites: Please go through the following documents – 1) Data_Publishing_Policies_and_Guidelines, 2) DataSharingPolicy2012, 3)Decadal review of Biodiversity Informatics, and 4) Gbif_getting_started_publishing_en_v1

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