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.


  • Dr. Siddhartha Krishnan, Convenor, Academy
  • Dr. Milind Bunyan, Coordinator
  • Madhavi Latha G., Deputy Coordinator


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, behavioural 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 the 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.

Courses offered in the second semester (January - May 2018)

C3: Integrated Approaches in Conservation, Environment and Society

Instructor: Sharachchandra Lele (

Co-instructors/Associates: Veena Srinivasan, Nitin Rai, Bejoy K. Thomas

Credits: 3 (48 contact hours in the form of 16 sessions of 3-hours each)

Session time: Monday 9:50am-1pm (starting January 8th, 2018)

C4A: Research Methods in Social Sciences

Instructors: Bejoy K Thomas (coordinator), Siddappa Setty, Shikha Lakhanpal

Credits: 1 credit

Duration: 10 lecture hours + ~25 lab hours

C4B: Philosophy of Science and Natural Science Methods

Instructors: Aravind Madhyastha (Coordinator), R. Ganesan (Co-coordinator), Kartik Shanker, Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan, Rengaian Ganesan, Soubadra Devy, T. Ganesh

Credits: Two credits

Lectures: Tuesdays (1400-1450) Thursdays (1000-1050)

Field Course: (2-15 May)

C4C: Quantitative Methods

Instructors: Shoibal Chakravarty (coordinator, Som Chattopadhyay, Asmita Sengupta and Jagdish Krishnaswamy

Credits: 2

Lectures: Tuesday and Wednesday (12:00-12:50)

Lab: Thursday (11:00-11:50)

List of courses for the first semester of PhD programme (August - November 2017)

C1A: Ecology

Course instructors: G. Ravikanth (Coordinator), Ankila Hiremath, Melinda Weaver, T. Ganesh
Class schedule:Wednesdays and Fridays (1100‐1150)
Number of credits: 2 credits

C1B: Fundamentals of Environmental Science

Course instructors: Priyanka Jamwal (Coordinator), Jagdish Krishnaswamy, Shrinivas Badiger, Veena Srinivasan
Number credits: 3
Class schedule: Mon (1100‐1150), Tue (1100‐1150), Labs; Tue (1400‐1650)

C2A: Economics for Environment and Development

Course instructors: Durba Biswas (Coordinator), Bejoy Thomas, Sharad Lele
Number of credits: 3
Class schedule: Mon (1200‐1250), Wed (1200‐1250), Fri (1200‐1250)

C2B: Sociology

Instructors: Siddhartha Krishnan (Coordinator‐, Rinzi Lama (, Sony R K (
Credits and contact hours: 3 credits, 48 hours.
Class Schedule: Tuesday (10‐11 AM), Wednesday (14:00‐15:00) & Thursday (12:00‐13:00)

List of elective courses for 2017

E013: Environmental Governance: An Indian introduction

Instructors: Dr. Sharad Lele (Course co-ordinator) and Dr. Shikha Lakhanpal (Co-instructor)

Course description: Environmental governance is broadly the application of a political science and legal perspectives to environmental issues. The term, which has gained prominence recently, highlights the fact that from a period when ‘environmental policy-making’ and ‘environmental management’ was seen as the sole preserve of state agencies, it is now recognized that environmental decision-making involves multiple actors and their interactions. In the Indian context, this would include inter alia the judiciary, civil society groups, and the (rural and urban) communities that actually use and are affected by environmental change.

This course provides an introduction to the theoretical material on why and how environmental governance may be carried out and then will use examples from various sectors in India to understand the link between theory and practice. The topics covered are:

  • Nature of environmental crisis & environmental values
  • Terminology of institutional analysis and governance
  • Property rights and the environment
  • CPR theory
  • Broader framing of institutions and the environment
  • Regulatory theory
  • Environment vs development
  • Politicising governance

The sectors covered will be forestry, wildlife, water, pollution, and mining/thermal power/dam projects.


Credits, sessions, timings: This is a 2 credit course, with two 2-hour sessions each week over 8 weeks. The proposed schedule is Monday and Thursday, 11am-1pmstarting 6th February 2017 and ending 30th March 2017.

Format and assessment: The course will be run in a combination of lecture and discussion mode (roughly 1 hour of each in each 2-hour session). Students will be expected to have read the assigned readings before each class and will be expected to present their analysis of sectoral cases assigned to them. Assessment will be based on in-class presentations (80%) and 1 term paper (20%).

Coursework details and schedules for the second semester

C3: Integrated approaches in Conservation, Environment and Society 
Credits: 3 credits (16 sessions of 3 hours each)
Instructors: Nitin Rai (coordinator,, Durba Biswas, Ankila Hiremath, Siddhartha Krishnan, Jagdish Krishnaswamy, Sharad Lele, and Veena Srinivasan.

C4a: Research Methods in Social Sciences 
Credits and contact hours: 1 credit, 16 hours
Instructors: Siddappa Setty (coordinator:, Bejoy K Thomas, Siddhartha Krishnan and Ulka Kelkar.

C4b: Philosophy of Science and Natural Science Methods 
Credits: 2 credits (32 hours)
Instructors: Priyadarsanan (Course Coordinator: ), Aravind Madhyasta, Soubadra Devy, T. Ganesh and R. Ganesan.

C4c: Quantitative methods 
Number of credits: 2
Instructors: Abi Tamim Vanak (Coordinator:, Milind Bunyan, Jagdish Krishnaswamy.
Teaching Assistant: Nachiket Kelkar
Guest lecturers: TBA

Coursework details and schedules for the first semester (August 2015-November 2015)

C1A: Ecology 
Credits and contact hours: 3 credits, 48 hours
Instructors: G. Ravikanth (co-ordinator:, Abi Tamim Vanak (, and Soubadra Devy (

C1B: Fundamentals of Environmental Science 
Credits and contact hours: 3 credits, 48 hours
Instructors: Shrinivas Badiger (SB) – Course Coordinator (; Jagdish Krishnaswamy-JK (; Priyanka Jamwal-PJ (; Veena Srinivasan-VS (

C2a: Economics for Environment and Development 
Credits and contact hours: 3 credits, 48 hours
Instructors: Durba Biswas (coordinator), Bejoy K Thomas, Ulka Kelkar

C2b: Sociology & Environmental sociology: Theorizing society, nature and their interactions 
Instructor: Siddhartha Krishnan

P1: Basic Math 
Credit and contact hours: 1 credit, 16 hours
Instructor: Veena Srinivasan

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 SrinivasanandSharachchandra 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

Dr. Abi Tamim Vanak's picture

Dr. Abi Tamim Vanak

  • Teaching Faculty, M.Sc. Wildlife Biology and Conservation Program, National Centre for Biological Sciences (
  • Landscape, Livelihoods and Conservation
Dr. Ankila Hiremath's picture

Dr. Ankila Hiremath

  • Fellow, Convenor - Center for Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Landscape, Livelihoods and Conservation
Dr. Aravind Madhyastha's picture

Dr. Aravind Madhyastha

  • Fellow, Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Biodiversity Monitoring and Conservation Planning
Dr. Bejoy K Thomas's picture

Dr. Bejoy K Thomas

  • Fellow (Associate Professor), Convenor - Centre for Environment and Development
  • Water, Land & Society
Dr. Durba Biswas's picture

Dr. Durba Biswas

  • Fellow, Centre for Environment and Development
  • Water, Land & Society
Dr. G Ravikanth's picture

Dr. G Ravikanth

  • Fellow, Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Biodiversity Monitoring and Conservation Planning
Dr. Jagdish Krishnaswamy's picture

Dr. Jagdish Krishnaswamy

  • Senior Fellow Suri Sehgal Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation
  • Ecosystem Services & Human Wellbeing
Dr. Nirmalya Chatterjee's picture

Dr. Nirmalya Chatterjee

  • Fellow, ATREE Eastern Himalayas
  • Ecosystem Services & Human Wellbeing


Amit John kurien's picture

Amit John kurien

  • Ph.D. Scholar
  • Forests & Governance
Anirban Datta Roy's picture

Anirban Datta Roy

  • PhD Candidate
Aniruddha Marathe's picture

Aniruddha Marathe

  • Biodiversity Monitoring and Conservation Planning
Anuja Datye's picture

Anuja Datye

  • Ph.D. Student
  • Forests & Governance


  1. BharathSundaram
    Current position: Assistant Professor, AzimPremji University, Bangalore

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


    • 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

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


    • 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

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


    • 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

    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.


    • 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

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


    • 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

    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.


    • 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.