Anand M Osuri
Research Associate, Western Ghats
I obtained a Masters degree in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) and Centre for Wildlife Studies in 2006, and a PhD in Biology from NCBS in 2015. My PhD research, which I undertook in collaboration with NCF, looked at how rainforest fragmentation alters forest structure and tree community composition, and resultant effects on the ability of these forests to store carbon and thereby mitigate climate change. I have interests in ecosystem ecology and restoration, and now work with NCF's rainforest restoration programme. Here, I am currently helping initiate research into evaluating and monitoring recovery of biodiversity and ecosystem services in ecologically restored rainforests.
- Journal Article2017Successional status, seed dispersal mode and overstorey species influence tree regeneration in tropical rain-forest fragments in Western Ghats, IndiaJournal of Tropical Ecology 33: 270-284. DOI: 10.1017/S0266467417000219
The effects of fragmentation and overstorey tree diversity on tree regeneration were assessed in tropical rain forests of the Western Ghats, India. Ninety plots were sampled for saplings (1–5 cm diameter at breast height (dbh); 5×5-m plots) and overstorey trees (>9.55 cm dbh; 20×20-m plots) within two fragments (32 ha and 18 ha) and two continuous forests. We tested the hypotheses that fragmentation and expected seed-dispersal declines (1) reduce sapling densities and species richness of all species and old-growth species, and increase recruitment of early-successional species, (2) reduce the prevalence of dispersed recruits and (3) increase influence of local overstorey on sapling densities and richness. Continuous forests and fragments had similar sapling densities and species richness overall, but density and richness of old-growth species declined by 62% and 48%, respectively, in fragments. Fragments had 39% lower densities and 24% lower richness of immigrant saplings (presumed dispersed into sites as conspecific adults were absent nearby), and immigrant densities of old-growth bird-dispersed species declined by 79%. Sapling species richness (overall and old-growth) increased with overstorey species richness in fragments, but was unrelated to overstorey richness in continuous forests. Our results show that while forest fragments retain significant sapling diversity, losses of immigrant recruits and increased overstorey influence strengthen barriers to natural regeneration of old-growth tropical rain forests.
- Journal Article2015Perceptions of priority issues in the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems in IndiaBiological Conservation, 187: 201-211Download
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We report on the results of a country-wide survey of people’s perceptions of issues relating to the con- servation of biodiversity and ecosystems in India. Our survey, mainly conducted online, yielded 572 respondents, mostly among educated, urban and sub-urban citizens interested in ecological and environ- mental issues. 3160 ‘‘raw’’ questions generated by the survey were iteratively processed by a group of ecologists, environmental and conservation scientists to produce the primary result of this study: a sum- marized list of 152 priority questions for the conservation of India’s biodiversity and ecosystems, which range across 17 broad thematic classes. Of these, three thematic classes—‘‘Policy and Governance’’, ‘‘Biodiversity and Endangered Species’’ and ‘‘Protection and Conservation’’—accounted for the largest number of questions. A comparative analysis of the results of this study with those from similar studies in other regions brought out interesting regional differences in the thematic classes of questions that were emphasized and suggest that local context plays a large role in determining emergent themes. We believe that the ready list of priority issues generated by this study can be a useful guiding framework for conservation practitioners, researchers, citizens, policy makers and funders to focus their resources and efforts in India’s conservation research, action and funding landscape.
- Journal Article2014Spatio-temporal variation in forest cover and biomass across sacred groves in a human-modified landscape of India's Western GhatsBiological Conservation 178: 193-199.
Although the potential for community-conserved areas (CCAs) to extend conservation beyond formal protected areas is widely acknowledged, the scarcity of conservation assessments and monitoring hinders the rigorous evaluation of their effectiveness in many regions. In India, which hosts a high density and diversity of CCAs, the need for more assessments of the ecological and socio- economic properties of these systems to guide conservation planning and policy has been emphasized in recent years. We inventoried the extant sacred grove network against official records of 407 groves across 70 villages in the Kodagu District of India's Western Ghats, and interviewed local communities about their management and conservation. We also evaluated recent trends in aboveground biomass of sacred groves using time-series satellite data from six time-points during the 2000-2010 period, and made comparisons to corresponding trends in nearby State-managed protected forests. Although most of the larger (> 2ha) groves officially listed were forested at present, over two-thirds of the smaller groves listed were either not forested or could not be located. Local communities attributed these declines to encroachment and illicit logging. Time-series satellite data revealed aboveground biomass declines of ~0.5% annually across the sacred grove network over the 2000-2010 period. In contrast, biomass increased during this period at the interiors and edges of State-managed forests in the landscape. Our results highlight that the conservation status of even well-protected CCAs can vary considerably over time, especially given the dynamism in socio-economic, cultural and ecological factors that govern their status. We argue that understanding and addressing this dynamism is crucial to the conservation of CCAs.
- Poster2014Geckos and SkinksDownload
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Beddome's Grass Skink, Anamalai Gecko, Forest Day Gecko, Kollegal Ground Gecko, Dussumier's Litter Skink, Side-spotted Ground Skink, Tamil
- Conference Proceedings2009Opportunities and challenges for tiger (Panthera tigris) conservation in the southern Western Ghats, IndiaShifting Trajectories of Ecology and Coexistence: Proceedings of the National Seminar on People and Tigers. Kerala Forest Department, Periyar Tiger Reserve, Thekkady, India. pp. 135-147Download
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The southern Western Ghats is an important ecological subunit of the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot. Dominated by moist forests, including tropical wet evergreen forests, it has higher levels of biodiversity and endemism than the rest of the Western Ghats. There are 19 Protected Areas in the southern Western Ghats that cover 36% of its total area, among which Parambikulam, Anamalai and Periyar Tiger Reserves stand out as primary source habitats for tigers. The region is fragmented from north to south into the Anamalai, Periyar and Agasthyamalai landscapes. Given the crucial need for large, contiguous areas to ensure the persistence of wide-ranging large predators such as the tiger Panthera tigris and its prey, it is important to establish and maintain habitat connectivity within and between these landscapes, whereas conservation efforts today are focused on small, insular protected areas. Possibilities for forging connectivity between the Anamalai and Periyar landscapes along Kerala state are nonexistent owing to the loss of Devikulam Range in Munnar Forest Division to cardamom cultivation and developments related to tourism and Kumily Range in Kottayam Forest Division to encroachment. The link on the Tamil Nadu side, along the steep eastern slopes of Theni Forest Division, is extremely narrow and consequently unsuitable for large mammal movement at present. Our surveys, however, point to the possibility of bridging this gap through a corridor at Kottavasal. Recent camera-trapping studies by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun have highlighted the precarious situation of tigers in Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in the Agasthyamalai landscape. Therefore, establishment of the Kottavasal corridor and the Kulathupuzha Conservation Reserve is a must to secure the future of tiger in the Agasthyamalai landscape. It is important that all endeavours now be made to enable the Anamalai and Periyar-Agasthyamalai landscapes to each sustain a minimum population of 100 adult tigers. Controlling poaching of prey species especially sambar Cervus unicolor, establishment of protected areas such as Kodaikanal, Megamalai and Kulathupuzha, acquisition of failed private estates to facilitate large mammal recolonization and restoration of native vegetation in exotic species plantations are priority tasks that need immediate attention in order to realize the huge opportunities for tiger conservation in the southern Western Ghats.