For private circulation only
Branches@ATREE (A Bimonthly Newsletter)
Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment
Volume 2:5
September 2004

ATREE Offices
Bangalore Office
659 5th A Main, Hebbal
Bangalore 560 024
Tel: 080-2353 3942,
2353 0069
Fax: 080-2353 0070
Delhi Office
B-80 Shivalik
New Delhi 110 017
Tel/Fax: 011-266 93299
266 93190
Eastern Himalayas Office
Bungalow No.2, Bhujiapani
Bagdogra 734 422
Tel/Fax:0353-255 1110
255 0093
North East Office C/o. “Evergreen” Samanway Path (Survey)
P.O. Belatola Guwahati – 781 028 Assam.
Tel.: 0361-226 6087

Advisory Board

Dr. R.A. Mashelkar
Dr. Anil K. Gupta
Dr. Peter Raven
Dr. Suri Sehgal
Dr. Jagmohan Maini
Dr. Jairam Ramesh

Executive Board

Dr. K.S. Bawa
Dr. K.N. Ganeshaiah Dr. R. UmaShaanker Dr. S. N. Rai
Dr. R. Shailaja
Mr. Darshan Shankar
Ms. Rohini Nilekani
Dr. Gladwin Joseph (ex-officio)

Executive Staff
Dr. Gladwin Joseph
Ms. Suparna Biswas
Dr. Bibhab Talukdar
Mr. Manoj Dabas
Mr. Suman Rai



The ARGHYAM Trust has awarded Rs. 10 million (1 crore) to the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE) to initiate the establishment of a Center for Conservation, Governance and Policy (CCGP) at Bangalore with a cell in New Delhi.

The Foundation, chaired by Mrs. Rohini Nilekani promotes participation, research and action in good governance across a wide range of sectors in India. ARGHYAM was set up in 2001 as a philanthropic fund from the personal assets of Ms Rohini Nilekani to nurture initiatives in health, education, ecology, the arts and public governance. In the past three years ARGHYAM has disbursed approximately Rs 10 million each year to various individuals and organizations working in these fields. This grant of Rs 10 million to ATREE is ARGHYAM’s biggest single grant to date.

The grant from ARGHYAM Foundation will support an Endowed Fellow at the Center. The grant will also fund interdisciplinary research and action in conservation planning and management of natural resources, particularly water resources and biological diversity; develop decentralized, participatory models of co-management of natural resources; contribute to effective policy and good governance based on an understanding of the interactions between humans and their biological and physical surroundings; and strengthen the involvement of civil society in conservation.

Mrs. Rohini Nilekani, Chairperson of ARGHYAM says, “We at ARGHYAM are proud to set up a partnership with ATREE which has done seminal work in ecology research. With this grant of Rs 10 million, part of which will sustain an ARGHYAM FELLOW at ATREE, we hope that we can foster a sharper focus on issues of governance and policy that can empower conservation efforts in India”.

ATREE has been approved as a Ph.D center of MAHE (MANIPAL ACADEMY OF HIGHER EDUCATION). The first batch of MAHE Ph.D guides in ATREE and their specialized areas of interest are:
  • Dr. K.N. Ganeshaiah: Genetics & Plant Breeding, Evolutionary Ecology, Genetic Diversity, and Developmental Biology.
  • Dr. R. Uma Shaanker: Plant Reproductive Physiology and Ecology, Physical Basis of Biological Phenomena, Conservation Biology and Forest Genetics, and the Biology of Invasive Species.
  • Dr. K.D. Singh: Forest Policy/Planning, Biological Diversity, Biometrics, and GIS/MIS/Remote Sensing.
  • Dr. Gladwin Joseph: Tree Physiology, Sustainable Agroforestry, and General Forestry.
  • Dr. Jagdish Krishnaswamy: Landscape Ecology and Watershed Hydrology, and Applied Statistics.
  • Dr. Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan: Insect Taxonomy, Bio-Informatics, Conservation Ecology & Management, and Integrated Pest Management.
  • Dr. T. Ganesh: Long Term Phenology of Canopy Trees in the Wet Evergreen Forest, Fruit-frugivore Interactions-the Impact of Forest Fragmentation on Plant-animal Interactions, Diversity and Abundance of Mammals and the Role of Forest Disturbance on their Survival, and Conservation of Wintering Harriers at a Landscape Level.
  • Dr. Harini Nagendra: Landscape Ecology, Collective Action and Common Property Management, Land Use and Land Cover Change, and Mountain Area Research.
  • Dr. M. Soubadra Devy: Setting up a Model Tropical Canopy Research Program in India, Effect of Disturbance in Plant-pollinator Interactions, and Urban Biodiversity Assessment Around Bangalore.
  • Dr. Kartik Shanker: Sea Turtle Ecology and Genetics, Amphibian and Reptile Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Small Mammal Ecology, and Community Ecology and Diversity.
ATREE, in association with University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore and University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA, together organized a workshop on “Regional Cooperation on Conservation of Biodiversity Hotspots of the Indian Subcontinent and Taxonomic Databases for Conservation” from August 31st to September 1st, 2004 at Bangalore. The workshop was supported by the S. M. Sehgal Foundation, USA and the Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi. The participants of the workshop included scientists from countries such as Nepal, Burma, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, India, USA, UK, and Denmark, working in the area of biodiversity conservation and taxonomic databases. There were about 125 participants from various places within and outside the country.

Besides regional cooperation for biodiversity conservation in two hotspots of the Indian subcontinent, the workshop aimed at assessing the potential and future prospects of internet based taxonomic initiatives in the country, and to plan new programs through networking of taxonomists and utilizing new techniques in the area of web based taxonomy for biodiversity conservation.

The theme on conservation of hotspots of the Indian subcontinent included presentations on topics (number of presentations in each topic is indicated in parentheses) such as Natural History of the Hotspots (5), Conservation Concerns (5) and Effectiveness of the Present Conservation Efforts in the Hotspots and Cooperative Policy Issues (3). The theme on taxonomic databases for conservation included topics such as Conceptual issues in Taxonomy Databases (3) and Efforts in Developing Taxonomic Databases (12). There was also a panel discussion on both the themes.

At the inaugural session of the workshop, Dr. M. N. Sheelavantar, Vice Chancellor, UAS, Bangalore, released the CD-ROM on Plant Resources of south India (Sasya Bharati- Dakishinamnaya). The CD-ROM includes various data recovery modules and gives information on taxonomic hierarchy, distribution maps and data, checklist of flora and images of South Indian plants. In a special program at the workshop venue, Dr. Jayaram Ramesh, Member of Parliament and member of the National Advisory Council launched the website This website, which is the first of its kind on plant resources of India, contains checklists and images as well as comprehensive information on taxonomy and distribution, of Indian plants.

The workshop was successful in achieving the set objectives and produced valuable recommendations. In the area of conservation of hotspots of the Indian subcontinent, transboundary collaboration was sought in the spheres of research, policy, training and conservation management. The mechanisms and action plans for achieving this through the establishment of a regional consortium, research groups and networking were also thoroughly worked out. Recommendations such as establishment of a regional consortium, development of a locally controlled, distributed taxonomic information system with the component of capacity building, and building a pilot project on a cyber facility for regional taxonomy were evaluated. – Initially for plants / specific biotic groups with the features such as taxonomic information, type images, taxonomic literature and technical expert groups involving taxonomists, software professionals and other experts were featured in the section on taxonomic databases for conservation.

A butterfly kit is being launched by the Butterfly Conservation and Outreach Unit at ATREE. The butterfly kit has 8 larval food plants of more than eight different species of butterflies found within Bangalore. Each plant is specific to a butterfly species, which lays its eggs on them. The caterpillars that emerge out of the eggs feed on these plants before pupating and emerging as butterflies. Apart from caterpillar plants, a few seeds of nectar plants suitable for butterflies are also being supplied. The plants are being provided in baskets made of Lantana, a ubiquitous and troublesome weed. It is for the first time that this weed is being put to such a novel use. The plants and the baskets are being made possible by tribal Self Help Groups based in forest areas. This offers an alternate and sustainable livelihood option for local communities who otherwise depend on forests.

The butterfly kit has a guide on how to grow these plants and the specific butterflies that they will attract. The plants can be grown on rooftop terraces or kitchen gardens, or among other ornamental plants. These will attract butterflies to lay their eggs on them, and their caterpillars will feed on the plants. The nectar from the flowers are likely to attract other species of butterflies as well. The kit also has a small pictorial guide of some of the common butterflies seen in and around Bangalore. This could be an unforgettable experience that can get one introduced to the wonderful world of butterflies!
- Joseph Vattakaven
- Dr. G.S.Mohan
ATREE in association with the Times NIE (Newspaper In Education) launched the“ Green Week” on July16, 2004 by planting butterfly host plants in National Hill View School, Rajajeshwari Nagar, Bangalore. A gift pack comprising of three sets of plants (Citrus limon, Cassia fistula, Ficus religiosa)

Dr. Suman Rai has jointed ATREE as the new regional director, Bagdogra from October 1, 2004. He was working with ICIMOD, Kathmandu, as its regional coordinator for 5 countries in South Asia and China.
Ms. Kalyanee Chetia, M.Sc. has joined ATREE-North East Office as Office Administrator with effect from October 1, 2004.
Mr. Pravat Chandro Sutar has joined ATREE from October 1, 2004 as a Research Associate. Pravat has a masters from School of Environmental Sciences, JNU, New Delhi and was working with "Vasundhara" at Bhubaneswar as Programme Officer. He will be stationed at Bhubaneswar .
Ms. Vishakha Das is the new development/administrative officer at Bangalore. She has an MS in Ecology and Environment from the Indian Institute of Ecology and Environment and a Masters in Environment Management from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare & Business Management. She was previously working with FICCI (New Delhi) as a research associate in the environment division.

and information leaflets about butterflies, were given out. This was an urban education initiative for city schools aimed at promoting butterflies as umbrella species. Enthusiastic students of 17 different schools participated in the program.
- Joyeeta Das

Mrs. Rohini Nilekani, President, ARGHYAM Foundation is the new Executive Board Member of ATREE from September 15, 2004.
Dr. Jairam Ramesh, Member of Parliament and The Member of National Advisory Council, Government of India is the new Advisory Board Member of ATREE from September 15, 2004.

Shanker, K., R.K Aggarwal, J. Rama Devi, B.C. Choudhury, & L. Singh, (2004) India – the cradle of the world’s olive ridley turtles (Lepidochelys olivacea): phylogeography and implications for conservation theory. Presented at the 18th Annual Meeting Society for Conservation Biology, July 30 – Aug 2, 2004. New York, USA.

M. Irfan Ullah and Sham Davande. (2004) Effectiveness of Genetic Algorithm for Ruleset Prediction based Modeling in Predicting Invasion of Prosopis juliflora – A Case Study. Presented at the conference on The Invasive Alien Species and Biodiversity of India” 18-20th August 2004 at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU).

Dr. Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, has delivered a lecture on “Threats to Biodiversity, habitat loss, poaching and man animal conflict” at the Academic Staff College of Guwahati University on 10th September 2004 as per new initiatives of the University Grant Commission to introduce Environmental Studies in college curriculum. About 50 teachers from various parts of Assam participated in the lecture.

Shanker, K., Field training workshop (April 24-25, 2004): Training to NGOs on sea turtle biology and mass nesting counts at Rushikulya and Devi River mouth rookeries, Orissa. Funded by Marine Conservation Society, UK.
ATREE received an institutional grant from the Ford Foundation to strengthen institutional and programmatic needs and enhance outreach activities in the field of biodiversity conservation.
  Prof. K.R. Shivanna, Hon. Senior Fellow, ATREE was the recipient of "Panchanan Maheshwari Memorial Lecture Award" 2004 by the Indian National Science Academy (INSA).
Dr. Mohammed Irfan Ullah, Fellow has been elected as a Fellow of Geological Society of India on 13th September, 2004.
Bawa, K.S. R. Seidler, P. H. Raven. (2004) Reconciling conservation paradigms. Conservation Biology, 18 (4): 859-860.

Shivanna, K.R. (2004). ‘Pollen biotechnology for conservation and utilization of plant genetic resources’, in R, Chaudhury, R. Pandey, Malik, S.K. and Mal, B. (eds), In Vitro Conservation and Cryopreservation of Tropical Fruit Species, pp 201-213. IPGRI Office for South Asia, New Delhi / NBPGR, New Delhi, India.

Verma, Ashok., S. Balachandran, N. Chaturvedi, & V. Patil, (2004). ‘A preliminary report on the biodiversity of Mahul Creek, Mumbai, India with special reference to Avifauna’, Zoo’s Print Journal, 19(9): 1599-1605.

Chaitra, M.S., K. Vasudevan, & K. Shanker. (2004). ‘The biodiversity bandwagon: the splitters have it’, Current Science, 86: 897-899.

Aggarwal, R.K., T.P. Velavan, D. Udaykumar, P.S. Hendre, Shanker, K. and L. Singh. (2004). ‘Development and characterization of novel microsatellite markers from the olive ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)’ Molecular Ecology, 4: 77-79