PhD programme

Conventional conservation plans have adopted strict protection and human exclusion as the principle strategy to curtail further loss of biodiversity. However these top-down approaches that exclude forest-dependent people have not only had negative impacts on the cultural and economic structures of their societies, they have also alienated communities from the goals of conservation. Failure to factor social and environmental justice in conservation planning and governance has therefore resulted in negative impacts on the lives of forest dependent communities, as well as biodiversity conservation.

ATREE believes that accounting of environmental and social costs, promotion of sustainable use of natural resources, and integration of livelihoods with biodiversity conservation and sustainable development, could be starting points to alternative approaches to economic development. The ATREE doctoral programme aims to contribute toward this emerging paradigm in conservation science and sustainable development.

ATREE PhD Programme in Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies

The ATREE doctoral programme in Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies is designed to impart training to research scholars, to develop and use integrated approaches in sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. The programme promotes interdisciplinary research and frameworks to integrate tools and approaches from the disciplines of ecology, economics, sociology, and climate science.

ATREE's doctoral programme is affiliated to Manipal University, which is the institution that will award the degree. In accordance with the requirement of both ATREE and Manipal University, students seeking admission should have:

  • a background in natural or social sciences
  • exhibit academic excellence

Students admitted to the programme will work under the personal mentorship of an ATREE faculty member and will also be guided by a doctoral committee of 3-5 members. The committee will consist of ATREE faculty members and external scientists and will include representation of expertise from different disciplines.

Course

Doctoral training will begin with rigorous coursework that will take a year to complete. This will include a set of mandatory courses and a choice of electives. Since students will have either a natural or social science background, we have designed foundation courses in the natural and social sciences, which will introduce students to main concepts in both disciplines. The foundation course in natural science will cover principles in basic ecology and evolution, behavioral ecology, population biology, community ecology, ecosystem ecology, landscape ecology, and soils and hydrology. The foundation course in social science will cover the basic principles of economics and sociology, focusing on classical and contemporary economic and sociological theory, and expanding into ecological economics and environmental sociology. Following these will be two advanced core courses, one in conservation science and one in research design and methods (for both natural and social sciences).

The core course in conservation science is built on three thematic issues that are central to the current debate on conservation of biodiversity and sustainable economic development viz., the decline of biodiversity, land degradation, and climate change. Within each thematic issue, we will start with a multidisciplinary approach and then move on to discussing more integrated approaches, drawing upon theoretical ideas and comparative analyses of case studies from across the world.

The core course in research design and methods will train students in advanced statistical, computational, and analytical methods to equip them with the necessary tools to design and implement research, and analyse data and communicate their research findings to quality journals.

Students who have successfully undergone the mandatory core courses are expected to be proficient in the basic principles of ecology, economics, sociology, and conservation science, and also equipped with the tools and technical skills to conduct research and communicate their findings effectively. Building on this fundamental training, student researchers are expected to develop and focus on their special areas of interest. In order to prepare the student for advanced debate on their focus of research, we have devoted considerable attention to designing optional elective courses. These will be advanced courses that discuss the current state of research and understanding on important issues related to ecology, conservation science, and environmental and forest policy and governance.

Coursework details and schedules for Semester 1: August-December 2013

C1A: Ecology (Click for course details and schedule)
3 credits, 48 contact hours
Instructors: T. Ganesh (Coordinator), Abi Tamim Vanak, Ravikanth G and Ankila Hiremath

C1B: Fundamentals of Environmental Science
3 credits, 48 contact hours
Instructors: Jagdish Krishnaswamy(Coordinator), Shrinivas Badiger, Priyanka Jamwal, Veena Srinivasanand Sharachchandra Lele

C2A: Economics for Environment and Development
3 credits, 48 contact hours
Instructors: Bejoy K. Thomas (Coordinator), Durba Biswas, Sharachchandra Lele

C2B: Sociology and Anthropology for Environment and Development
3 credits
Instructors: Siddhartha Krishnan and Nutan Maurya

P1: Basic Math
Instructor: Veena Srinivasan

P2: English writing
Instructor: Samuel Thomas

Coursework for Semester 2: January-April 2014

Semester 2: Core courses

C3: Practising Interdisciplinary Research on the Environment
3 credits, 48 contact hours
Instructor: Sharachchandra Lele

C4a: Research Methods in Social Sciences
1 credit, 16 hours
Instructor: Bejoy K. Thomas (coordinator), Siddhartha Krishnan, Siddappa Setty

C4b: Research Methods in Natural Sciences
1.5 credits, 1.5 hours
Instructors: Abi Tamim Vanak, Priyadarsanan, Priyanka Jamwal, Shrinivas Badiger, Soubadra Devy, Siddappa Setty, T. Ganesh, N. A. Aravind

C4c: Quantitative Methods
2 credits
Instructor: Jagdish Krishnaswamy

Semester 2: Elective courses

E1: Systematic Biology
3 credits
Instructors: R. Ganesan, G. Ravikanth and N. A. Aravind

E2: Plant - Animal Interactions for conservation
3 credits
Instructors: Soubadra Devy and Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan

E3: Landscape ecology, GIS and Remote Sensing of the Environment
3 credits
Course instructors: Jagdish Krishnaswamy, Sharachchandra Lele, Muneeswaran M.

Semester 3: Elective courses

E4: Urban Water
2 credits
Course instructors: Veena Srinivasan, Priyanka Jamwal, Shrinivas Badiger

E5: Gender and Environment
1 credit
Course instructors: Durba Biswas

E6: Invasive Species – Ecology, Impacts, and Management
2 credits
Course instructors: Ankila Hiremath

E7: The ecology and socio-economics of Non-timber Forest Produce
2 credits
Course instructors: R. Siddappa Setty

E8: Environmental Anthropology
1 credit
Course instructors: Nutan Maurya

E9: Introduction to Political Ecology
2 credits
Course instructors: Nitin Rai

E10: Perspectives in Human-Wildlife Relations
Course instructors: Abi Tamim Vanak (coordinator),Swati Shresth, Siddhartha Krishnan

Fellows

Abi Tamim Vanak
Fellow, Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation, ATREE
Fellow, National Environment Sciences Program, MoEF, GoI

Ankila Hiremath, New Delhi
Fellow, Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation, ATREE,
Programme leader - Ecosystems and Global Change
Research interest: Forest ecology and its application to human land use systems (e.g., forest management, agroforestry, and restoration).
hiremath(at)atree(dot)org

Aravind N.A.
Fellow, Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation, ATREE
Research interest: Disturbance ecology and community ecology of birds, butterflies, amphibians and Non-marine Molluscs of Western Ghats.
aravind(at)atree(dot)org

Bejoy K. Thomas
Fellow, Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE
Research interest: Broadly in the areas of development studies and political economy, with specific interests in vulnerability and poverty analysis, participation, environmental change and livelihoods, coping and adaptation strategies.
bejoy.thomas(at)atree(dot)org

Jagdish Krishnaswamy
Senior Fellow,
Convenor,Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation and Programme Leader - Ecosystem Services and Human Wellbeing
Research interest: Watershed hydrology and landscape ecology.
jagdish(at)atree(dot)org

Priyanka Jamwal
Fellow, Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE
Research interest: Management of point and non-point source pollution, fate and transport of pollutants in groundwater, bacteriological contamination of water distribution network (modeling), climate change impact on water quality.
priyanka(dot)jamwal(at)atree(dot)org

Nitin Rai
Fellow, Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE
Convenor, Academy for Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies
Research interest: Understanding the ecological, social and economic aspects of forest resource use. Using multidisciplinary approaches to examine non-timber forest product harvest, its contribution to poverty alleviation, and its relationship to biodiversity conservation.
nitinrai(at)atree(dot)org

Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan
Senior Fellow, Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation, ATREE,
Programme Leader - Ecosystems and Global Change
Research interest: Insect taxonomy and conservation. Ecoinformatics, agro-forestry and traditional knowledge.
priyan(at)atree(dot)org

R. Ganesan
Fellow, Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation, ATREE
Research interest: Plant taxonomy, vegetation dynamics in natural and disturbed forests, population dynamics of endemic plants, involving local people in biodiversity conservation.
rganesan(at)atree(dot)org

Ravikanth G
Fellow, Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation, ATREE
Research interest: Conservation and population genetics, plant systematics, evolution, and biogeography, DNA bar-coding, origin, diversity; and conservation of plants, species recovery. Chemical ecology and bioprospecting.
gravikanth(at)atree(dot)org

Sharachchandra Lele
Senior Fellow,
Convenor,Centre for Environment and Development and Programme Leader - Forest and Governance
Research interest: Conceptual issues in sustainable development and sustainability; analyses of institutional, economic, ecological, and technological issues in forest, energy, and water resource management; methodology of interdisciplinary research.
slele(at)atree(dot)org

Shrinivas Badiger
Fellow, Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE
Programme Leader - Land Water and Livelihoods
Research interest: Hydro-socio-economic approaches to understanding the context of water scarcity, resource depletion and degradation within a larger framework of sustainable environment and livelihoods.
sbadiger(at)atree(dot)org

Siddappa Setty
Fellow, Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE
Research interest: Poverty alleviation in biodiversity-rich areas through sustainable use of forest resources, issues related on community and conservation, participatory resource monitoring, agroforestry and forest restoration. Started working on biodiversity conservation in 1994.
siddappa(at)atree(dot)org

Siddhartha Krishnan
Fellow, Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation, ATREE
Research interest: Environmental sociology, environmental history, historical sociology, field and archival research.
siddhartha.krishnan(at)atree(dot)org

M. Soubadra Devy
Fellow, Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation, ATREE
Research interest: Plant-animal interactions; and developing a canopy programme for India through protected areas network and extending the biodiversity frontier to production landscape, through participatory approach involving community. Putting together various ecological aspects that were carried out over the last several years in Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. Develop rigorous field courses, which cater to various target audiences.
soubadra(at)atree(dot)org

Swati Shresth
Fellow, Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE
Research interest: Environmental history, human-wildlife interaction,approaches to sustainable development, livelihood issues in forests, forest governance, analysis of market- driven conservation.
swati.shresth(at)atree(dot)org

T. Ganesh
Senior Fellow, Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation, ATREE
Research interest: Plant-animal interactions, tropical seed dispersal/seed predation systems, long term monitoring of phenology and vegetation dynamics.
tganesh(at)atree(dot)org

Veena Srinivasan
Fellow, Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE
Research interest: Inter-sectoral water allocation, threats to freshwater from local to regional to global scales, impacts of multiple stressors including demographics, climate change and urbanization on water resources, sustainable water management policy and practice, bi- co-evolutionary trajectories and comparative study of socio-hydrologic systems.
Veena(dot)srinivasan(at)atree(dot)org

Post Doc Fellows

Durba Biswas
Post Doc Fellow, Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE
Research interests: Economics of water resources; exploring the gender-water linkages in an interdisciplinary manner - specifically to understand the construction of gender in economics in relation to the use of natural resources.

Nutan Maurya
Post Doc Fellow, Centre for Environment and Development, ATREE
Research interests: Cultural studies, social environmentalism, environmental communication, gender, health and climate change and globalization with particular emphasis on understanding the cultural aspects of water, sanitation and gender.
nutan(dot)maurya(at)atree(dot)org

List of PhD students at ATREE

2006

2007

  • Chetan H. C (degree awarded): Assessing the ecological processes in abandoned tea plantations and its implication for ecological restoration in the Western Ghats, India. chetan@atree.org
  • Rajkamal Goswami: Hunting in protected and other forests of Northeast India and its implications on primate conservation. rajkamal@atree.org
  • Savitha Swamy (degree awarded): Reshaping neighbourhood parks for biodiversity and people: A study on pocket green spaces in Bengaluru, India. savitha@atree.org
  • Kavitha B (part-time) (degree awarded): Microbial diversity of earthworm burrow wall. bkavinair@gmail.com

2008

2009

2011

2013

  1. BharathSundaram
    Current position: Assistant Professor, AzimPremji University, Bangalore
    Emailb.sundaram@apu.edu.in

    Thesis title: Patterns and processes of Lantana camara persistence in South Indian tropical dry forests.
    Degree awarded in June 2011.

    Publications

    • Sundaram, B., S. Krishnan, A.J. Hiremath, G. Joseph. 2012. Ecology and impacts of the invasive species, Lantana camara, in a social-ecological system in South India: Perspectives from local knowledge. Human Ecology 1-12. doi 10.1007/s10745-012-9532-1
    • Sundaram, B., and A.J. Hiremath. 2011. Lantana camara invasion in a heterogeneous landscape: patterns of spread and correlation with changes in native vegetation. Biological Invasions 1-15 doi: 10.1007/s10530-011-0144-2
    • Hiremath, A. J., B. Sundaram. 2005. The fire-lantana cycle hypothesis in Indian forests. Conservation and Society 3 (1) 26-42.
    • Sundaram, B., N. Parthasarathy. 2002. Tree growth, mortality and recruitment in four tropical wet evergreen forest sites of the Kolli hills, Eastern Ghats, India. Tropical Ecology 43 (2): 275-286.


  2. Kavitha B.
    Current position: Associate Professor and Head, Department of Microbiology,
    Maharani's Science College for Women, Bangalore
    Emailbkavinair@gmail.com

    Thesis title: Microbial diversity of earthworm burrow wall.
    Degree awarded in May 2012.

    Publications

    • Kavitha B., D. J. Bagyaraj and D. Radha Kale. 2012. Microflora of earthworm burrow wall. Dynamic Soil, Dynamic Plant 6 (Special Issue 1): 38-42.
    • Kavitha, B. and D. J. Bagyaraj. 2011. Antagnistic activity of drilosphere bacteria and actinomycetes against plant pathogens. Journal of Soil Biology and Ecology 31: 236-238.
    • Kavitha, B. and D.J.Bagyaraj. 2010. Fungal diversity in the burrow wall soil of Lampitomauritii. Journal of Soil Biology and Ecology 30: 123-133.
    • Kavitha, B., B. G. Savithri and D.J.Bagyaraj. 2008. Cellulolytic activity of bacteria and fungi isolated from earthworm burrow wall soil. Journal of Soil Biology and Ecology 28: 44-52.
    • Mathias, A.J., Madhuravani, M.A., Kavitha, B. 2002. Incidence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other bacterial indicators in drinking water supplies in Bangalore city. Indian Journal of Microbiology 42(1): 83-85.


  3. SavithaSwamy
    Emailsavitha.swamy7@gmail.com

    Thesis title: Reshaping neighbourhood parks for biodiversity and people: a studyon pocket green spaces in Bangalore, India.
    Degree awarded in January 2013.

    Publications

    • Swamy, S and S.Devy. In press.Employing butterflies as cultural keystone species—a window of opportunity towards enriching urban biodiversity in Bangalore, India. In: Invertebrate diversity and conservation in the Western Ghats(edsPriyadarsanan, D.R.,S.Devy, K. A. Subramanian, N. A. Aravindand N.K.Seena. Bangalore: Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment.
    • Devy, S and S.Swamy.In press.Reshaping neighbourhood parks for biodiversity and people: a case of unsung socio-ecological systems in Bangalore, India. In: Socio-ecological systems in transition, Global Environmental Series. Tokyo: Springer.
    • Swamy, S and S. Devy. 2010. Forests, heritage green spaces and neighbourhood parks: Citizens’ attitude and perception towards ecosystem services in Bangalore. Journal of Resources Energy and Development 7(2):117-122.
    • Devy, S., S. Swamy and N. A. Aravind. 2009. Reshaping urban green spaces. Economic and Political Weekly 44(46):25-27.
    • Savitha, S., N.Barve, P. Davidar. 2008. Response of ant diversity to disturbance gradient in and around Bangalore, India. Journal of Tropical Ecology 49 (2): 273-277.


  4. Chetana H.C.
    Current position: Resource Person, AzimPremji University, Bangalore
    Emailchetan.hcc@gmail.com

    Thesis title: Assessing the ecological processes in abandoned tea plantations and its implication for Ecological Restoration in the Western Ghats, India.
    Degree awarded in March 2013.

    Publications

    • Chetana, H. C and T. Ganesh. 2012. Importance of shade trees (Grevillearobusta) in the dispersal of forest tree species in managed tea plantations ofthe southern Western Ghats, India. Journal of Tropical Ecology 28:187-197.
    • Chetana, H. C, S. Krishnan and T. Ganesh. 2012. Biodiversity regain in abandoned tea plantations. Current Science 102(8): 1089-1090.
    • Chetana, H. C and T. Ganesh. 2011. After tea what next?Current Conservation 5:3-40-41.
    • Chetana, H. C and T. Ganesh. 2007. Survey and activity patterns of nocturnal mammals in a fragmented dry deciduous forest of Karnataka. ZOO 22(4): 2644-2647.


  5. Ravi Ramalingam
    Consultant, ATREE, Bangalore
    Email raviram@atree.org

    Thesis title: Studies on insect community responses to habitat restoration efforts in tropical forests of Western Ghats
    Degree awarded in January 2014.

    Publications

    • Ramalingam, R. and Priyadarsanan D. R. 2009. Ground insect community responses to habitat restoration efforts in the Attappady hills, Western Ghats, India. Current Science 97: 935-941.
    • Ramalingam. R. and Priyadarsanan D. R. 2009. Developing concepts for assessing the “success” of forest landscape restoration. In: National seminar on bioresources and its management for food, livelihood and environmental security.Pp. 148-152. Proceedings of the 20th all India Congress of Zoology, Mumbai, India.


  6. VivekR.
    Current position: Independent consultant, Bangalore
    Email vivek667@gmail.com

    Thesis title: Effect of habitat alteration on canopy bird and small mammal communities in the wet evergreen forests of the Western
    Degree awarded in January 2014.

    Publications

    • Sreekar, R., A. Mohan, S. Das, P. Agarwal, R.Vivek. 2013. Natural windbreaks sustain bird diversity in a tea-dominated landscape. PLoS ONE 8(7): e70379. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070379
    • Vivek, R. and T. Ganesh. 2013. Birds of the “canopy”: historical perspective, current trends and future directions. In:Treetops at risk - global conservation and ecology of forest canopies. (eds Lowman, M., M. S.Devy, T. Ganesh). Pp. 201-208. Verlag: Springer.
    • Vivek, R. 2012. Treetop treks: ladders and beyond. In:Forest canopies of south Asia - a glimpse. (eds M. SoubadraDevy, T. Ganesh and Amrita Tripathy). Bangalore: ATREE.
    • Vivek, R. and Ganesh, T. 2012. Eye-to-eye with birds and small mammals.In: Forest canopies of south Asia - a glimpse. (eds M. SoubadraDevy, T. Ganesh and Amrita Tripathy). Bangalore: ATREE.
    • Krishnagopal, A. and R.Vivek. 2012. Getting 'high' in the canopies: In: Forest canopies of south Asia - a glimpse. (eds M. SoubadraDevy, T. Ganesh and Amrita Tripathy). Bangalore: ATREE.
    • Vivek, R., Agarwal, P. R., Sreekar, R., 2011. Dusky striped squirrel Funambulussublineatus as a part of mixed-species bird flocks. Indian Birds 7 (2): 51.