Presenting AuthorLink to presentationCo- AuthorTitle Abstract
Dhruv Verma Waterbird Census: Fostering citizen science networks for waterbird monitoring The Asian region is home to a high diversity of waterbirds, many of which are threatened and at risk of extinction. To conserve such species and their habitats, the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) supports monitoring changes in waterbird numbers and distribution following a standardised methodology. The paper presents a collation of information on AWC counts from India during 2006-2015. During this period, over 1400 volunteers conducted waterbird counts. Presence of 170 waterbird species (85% of total waterbird species in India), including 142 migratory species (84% of total migratory waterbird species in the country) from 1409 wetlands (0.18% of the total number of wetlands in the country) was recorded. 272 wetlands were recorded to support 1% or more of the bio-geographic population of at least one species of waterbird and qualified as Wetlands of International Importance under criterion 6 of Ramsar Convention. 65 wetlands supported 20,000 or more waterbirds during at least one year of the assessment period. These sites qualified for designation as Wetlands of International Importance under criterion 5 of Ramsar Convention. For 13 wetlands, the counts were over 0.1 million in at least one year during 2006-2015. The significance of the AWC programme in India, as a conservation tool, can be enhanced by improving geographic coverage of the census bringing in additional sites from under-represented regions of India. Also building in regular waterbird census within implementation of wetland management plans and enhancing capacities of frontline staff will help in strengthening the programme.
PA Vinayan Anoop, MA Yathumon, NS Sujin, PK Muneer, NM Vishnu, CS Anwar, PA Ajayan, BN Anjan KumarA citizen science approach to monitor Danaine Butterfly Migrations in Southern IndiaMilkweed butterflies (Danainae subfamily) in southern India undergo a seasonal migration every year between the plains and the Western Ghats. Millions of butterflies belong to six species involved in this migration. Even though this phenomenon has been documented in 19th century, its pattern and drivers were poorly understood even after a century. This migration takes place to the Western Ghats during October-November, and towards the plains in March-April. Ferns Nature Conservation Society, formed a volunteer group since 2018 and trained them to monitor and collect data on the migration. Besides, we gathered information from forest department officials, researchers, and announced through newspapers and social media asking the wider public to report the migration through email and messages from their areas. Currently, multiple stakeholders are contributing details about the migration, such as location, species, number, flight direction, weather, and vegetation type from various parts of Southern India. Mean butterfly count in 5 minutes was 29.5 and 142.6 during the post-monsoon migration in 2018 and 2019 respectively. In pre-monsoon, the count was 27.5 in 2019 and 193 in 2020. We identified and monitored 13 butterfly congregation sites in the Western Ghats and the habitat features and micro-climatic conditions of these sites were studied. We are also gathering data on nectar plants, larval host plants, and plants from which the butterflies gather alkaloids. Seven species of plants found to be depend for alkaloids. Resource availability and micro-climate in the Western Ghats found to be the major drivers of Danaine migration in southern India.
Madhumita Panigrahi Katti, P.SathiyaselvamPutting Together the Migration Puzzle - One Resighting at a Time: A Jamnagar Case Study in ProgressMigration is one of the most fascinating aspects of bird behaviour where arduous journeys are made across regions from breeding grounds to non-breeding sites. As part of long-term studies on bird migration by BNHS, seasonal bird banding was initiated in environs of Khijadiya, Gujarat from December 2017. Till date, a total of 624 individuals of 28 species have been marked with both metal rings and colour tags. Of these tagged birds, a total of 120 resightings of 16 species has been reported by birdwatchers, predominantly. These repeated resightings have not only established the wintering site fidelity but the records outside Gujarat has also thrown light on the extent of dispersal of species like Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus roseus. The series of resightings particularly of Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, Crab-plover Dromas ardeola and other shorebirds have provided information on the time of arrival/ departure and period of stay of these tagged individuals. This also highlights the importance of the Jamnagar coast as a wintering site. Bird ringing is a conventional method and remains the backbone in studying avian migration. However, the need to recapture the ringed bird remains a constraint in the absence of sophisticated and costly tracking devices. The use of colour tags that can be recorded by binoculars and camera, has aided researchers considerably in getting information by the help of citizens. At large, the tagged bird resighting study has enabled the citizens across the globe to be involved in bird migration research which was otherwise limited to bird ringers.
Krishna Girish SrinivasanPreliminary evidence for upward range shifts by Eastern Himalayan birdsGlobally, climate change is causing significant increases in Earth’s overall temperature. One way in which species are responding to elevated temperatures is by moving to potentially track their thermal niche, either towards the poles, or towards higher elevations. Upslope shifts in tropical mountains are particularly concerning because (a) tropical species are thermally sensitive and expected to move up rapidly in elevation, (b) area declines as species move upslope, increasing local extinction risk, and (c) a large fraction of vulnerable terrestrial biodiversity is concentrated in tropical mountains. Using citizen science data from two eBird hotspots in Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh, we studied the change in the frequency of reporting of common bird species over a 13-year period. We then examined whether the direction and magnitude changes over time in the proportion of checklists in which a species was present was related to its historical elevational ranges. Despite limitations to the data in both volume and nature, we show that changes in reporting frequency for 39 common species was consistent with upslope movement in response to climate warming, even over a relatively short time period. The Eastern Himalayas are warming three times as fast as the global average, and our preliminary results suggested that Eastern Himalayan bird communities might be in danger of stark declines in a warmer world. We suggest future avenues of research in the Himalayas and elsewhere, to help understand the impacts of climate change on tropical montane biota, and to help inform conservation strategies.
Madhushri Mudke Neelvara Aravind, K.V. GururajaNovel citizen science initiatives on anurans of the lateritic plateausThe unique, freshwater habitats of lateritic plateaus of Manipal lie outside protected area boundaries and remain under-researched till date. These plateaus are termed as ‘wastelands’ and hence rampant urbanisation, waste dumping and tree felling is evident all across these plateaus. With the help of citizen scientists, in ongoing projects, we are exploring habitat interactions, impacts of urbanisation and general human perspectives towards conservation of lesser known species like amphibians that inhabit these plateaus. Citizen scientists work with an expert or document anurans through photographs. Through two citizen science initiatives - ‘Frogs of Manipal’ and ‘Malfrogs’ - we were able to provide a comprehensive list of 19 species of anurans, their dependence on the available microhabitat structures on the plateaus and at least 10 different malformations. The presence of malformations among anurans is linked to pollution, habitat modifications and intense vehicular traffic. Our results are the first of their kind and have been entirely recorded by a team of students, volunteers and nature-enthusiasts from the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Manipal. In an effort to popularise the projects, a pocket guide book on frogs has been written with the help from Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles (SSAR) back in 2018, at least 2 movies have been created and numerous popular science articles have been published in mainstream media. These projects continue to document species throughout monsoons and we aspire to record long term data to understand the impacts of rapid urbanization on these plateaus to re-evaluate the term ‘wastelands’.
Gururaja KV in India: Current status and future directionsFrogwatch is a citizen science initiative created within the umbrella of India Biodiversity Portal in 2014. The objectives of the group is to identify and map amphibians across India with citizen participation, in addition to recognising their contributions under creative commons license. Starting from 272 observations in 2014, today the total number of observations stands at 2972. Presentation covers the patterns in spatio-temporal distribution of observations by citizens as well as data on species observed. It covers the aspects of plausible reasons behind the observed patterns, short comings and the way forward for such initiatives.
Sanjay Molur--Project Pterocount -- a bat citizen science initiativeBats are one of the least studied or understood mammals. The annual ‘hands-on’ training of biologists and interested amateurs in the taxonomy and field techniques of small mammals in South Asia since 1999 by the networks in Zoo Outreach Organization resulted in many hundreds being trained and a strong small mammal community with capacity developed. In one such training workshop in Bangladesh, it was felt that a citizen science project was a great way of involving people to observe, monitor, and understand bats. Pteropus medius the Indian Flying Fox being the most visible and observable bat was taken as a study species for documentation. This species though known for its wide distribution is under pressure from human impacts and its population dynamics are unknown. Through Project Pterocount, a network of interested volunteers have provided observation data on the species and its roasts from different parts of South Asia. The data have helped understand roost dynamics in some locations with longer monitoring, impacts of various activities on the roosts, and natural history observations. Although with varying interests in participation, the project has provided data providers with independent authority to publish the findings, and has during the 15 years spring-boarded several PhDs.
Yugender Subramanian Manoj KaringamadathilKey Factors for a Successful Identification of a Species in Citizen Science ProjectsIdentification of an observation to species rank is important in citizen science for research purposes. An observation that goes unidentified are less useful to the researchers. While there are several obvious reasons for an observation to go unidentified, this research attempts at finding some of the key factors that influence the successful identification. For this research, a citizen science project on iNaturalist platform, Backyard Bioblitz during Lockdown in Kerala, is studied. Analysis of 7000 observations from 250+ participants show that observation recording device, observer's network, regional experts, presence of common name and recording media type influence the identification of an observation to varying degree.
Priyadarsanan Dharma Rajan (Anu Radha Krishnan) Fish count and democratic conservation in the heavily used Vembanad LakeKerala’s Vembanad Estuary is a heavily used common which accounts for almost 70% of the state’s inland fishery. This fishery resource is in a declining state due to various developmental pressures and over exploitation. To create awareness among the stakeholders and policy makers about the state of fishery, ATREE has initiated the annual Vembanad Fish Count (VFC) in 2008. Designed as a stakeholder-driven citizens science program, it brought fisherfolk, researchers, civil society organizations, environmentalists, local-self-governments and educational institutions together. During the VFC, fishery resources are assessed using a standardized methods and the results are disseminated to the public through different media and India Biodiversity Portal (IBP). VFC provides a platform for the fisherfolk, fishery experts, environmentalists and policy makers to share their knowledge, identify problems and figure out solutions.
The dialogue initiated during the 1st VFC led the fishers from Muhamma village to respond and form the collective Kayal Samrakshana Samithy (Lake Protection Forum, LPF) in 2009. To mitigate the loss of fish breeding grounds due to developmental activities, the LPF took the initiative to set up the first Matsyathaavalam (no-fishing area with breeding supports for fishes) using the traditional fishing knowhow. Witnessing the success of the intervention by the first LPF, fishers from the other villages also formed LPFs in their respective villages. Now LPFs are federated under Samyukta Kayal Samrakshana Samithy (Federation of LPFs). The Federation and LPFs show higher degree of stewardship and lead several conservation activities in Vembanad.
Naren Sreenivasan for ConservationSince pre-colonial times, recreational fisheries have been growing in India. Perhaps the most notable are the former Cauvery Fishing camps managed by the Wildlife Association of South India (WASI). The group has adopted a collaborative science project to inform their conservation activities. Catch registers (1976-onwards) have allowed for analysis of fish stocks and development of several statistics that aid in management. The records cover 57 species of which 14 are endemic to the Western Ghats. Five species show an increase, three show a decline and three aquaculture species show a stable abundance over time. Length-Weight relationships developed for mahseer have reduced fish handling time. Fulton’s condition factor ‘K’ was higher in areas with a higher degree of protection. Nine morphotypes have been identified from 325 mahseer on which a complimentary genetic study is underway. The team also assisted in a study to assess the effect of simulated multiple captures on mahseer. The study showed that there were some physiological effects but the effects were not likely to result in post-release mortality. WASI has been vocal about the threats of alien-invasive fish species in the Cauvery river. Thanks to the citizen science programme, the ‘Critically Endangered’ humpback mahseer has been adopted as a flagship species of the Cauvery WLS and formally recommended as the state fish of Karnataka. The group has also developed their own ‘Angling Best Practice’ model -based on 50 years of angling experience- which is published on their website and freely available to all.
Priya Singh Singh, Arjun Srivathsa, Iravatee Majgaonkar, Sushma Sharma, Girish Arjun Punjabi, Malaika Mathew Chawla, Aditya BanerjeeHarnessing public interest in wild canids and hyenas for making conservation assessments in IndiaWild canids and striped hyenas constitute a group of carnivores that lack accurate distribution and ecological information in India. This guild occupies a wide latitudinal gradient and represents diverse habitats. Through the Wild Canids–India Project, we gathered 4437 presence records of these species from across India using a multi-pronged data collection approach. Over 2500 of these were contributed by citizen scientists, either directly through our online survey, or passively through sharing information on social media. With this, we were able to generate reliable distribution maps for the target species, examine ecological and social factors that facilitate their occurrence, assess their country-level conservation status, and identify important ‘Canid Conservation Units (CCUs)’ across the country based on prioritisation analyses. We found that jackals were widespread and Tibetan wolves were the most range-restricted. Grasslands, scrub, ravines, open flats and agroforests were important habitats for these species. We believe our approach would be ideal for decentralized, continuous monitoring of wild canids, hyenas and their under-represented yet fragile habitats across the country. Besides providing new ecological insights and enabling conservation assessments, our project also made strides towards enhancing public interest in the focal species through our team’s active engagement with data contributors as well as other citizens using the project website ( as a conduit for communication. Taken together, our project adds to the advent of “iEcology”, which taps into the potential of innovative web-based data collection methods together with public engagement, in an attempt to continuously bridge gaps between science and society.
Vivek Ramachandran Chakravarty, Abhijeet Bayani and Krushnamegh KunteMammals of India- a crowd-sourced online platform on Indian mammalsThe active involvement of public in scientific research is growing across the world. In biodiversity sciences, the sheer volume of participation and data generated is unprecedented. There have been a proliferation of ‘citizen science’ initiatives in India in the past decade. The rise of digital photography, ease of mobility and penetration of internet services across the country have led to increased documentation of our surroundings. Large projects on taxa such as birds, butterflies and plants have been successful and built a large contributor base. Under the aegis of the Biodiversity Atlas- India project, we launched the Mammals of India website ( in September 2018. The aim was to create a citizen driven, peer-reviewed, free web resource for Indian mammals. Users contribute geo-tagged photographs of mammals which are organized in a user-friendly format. The website is curated by experts who also write species accounts including taxonomic notes, status, habitat and conservation notes. The website currently hosts more than 2300 images of 193 species, these include some rare as well as lesser known groups such as bats and rodents that make up more than 50% of our mammalian fauna. This platform also hosts a vibrant Facebook community with 1600+ active users, who share videos, photos and information on mammals from across India. Our platform demonstrates a workable model that provides reliable information about mammals and simultaneously collects scientific data at a scale that was previously not possible.
Ishika Ramakrishna Anindya Sinha, Dr Ajith KumarSerendipitous Conservation: Using Citizen Science as a Tool to Monitor Human-primate InteractionsHuman beings and non-human primates interact in diverse ways. In recent years, negative interactions between the local communities of Great Nicobar Island and the Nicobar long-tailed macaque (NLTM) have risen. This island houses these endemic macaques and families from mainland India who migrated in the 1970s. I studied this system to understand the nature and extent of interactions between local settler communities and the NLTM. Through a triangulation of results from behavioural observations of the NLTMs, social surveys and a citizen science initiative, I found that there had been a gradual increase in direct negative interactions over time. The citizen science program that complemented this work provided an in-depth understanding of how macaque visitation and interactions with people varied across the island, which would have been impossible without the help of 142 volunteer families who collected this data over a period of 4 months. This data helped me find that macaque visitation was highest in the urban regions of the island, and that visitation alone did not indicate interaction or conflict. The families who participated in this project also depicted a shift in their perceptions of the macaques from negative to positive, as they were tuned into the realities of their situation through data collection. This proved to be a valuable component of the study while simultaneously contributing to local conservation effort. I aim to expand upon this model in the upcoming year for in-depth and long-term monitoring of macaque behaviour in the Nicobar Islands.
Paul Pop of citizen science data in the study and conservation of threatened endemic avifaunaCitizen science data can be useful for strategising study and conservation efforts of several threatened range-restricted endemic avian species, especially in a country like India with a wealth of citizen science contributions. Although such data is less useful by itself, for reasons such as ‘birding bias’ and spatial inaccuracy, they can be very useful in conjunction with data from dedicated field and literature surveys (hybrid data). The primary data-type that is available from large-scale citizen science initiatives like eBird is detection and non-detection data from which one can map parameters such as effort, frequency, and proportion of sampling, which in turn can be used for designing sampling strategies. Species distribution modelling using carefully curated hybrid data yields accurate models of distribution in space and time, along with information about major factors affecting it, which can be used for conservation strategies. These possibilities were explored in this study using hybrid data collected for Montecincla fairbanki (Palani Chilappan) and Sholicola albiventris (White-bellied Sholakili) in Western Ghats, and for Ophrysia superciliosa (Himalayan Quail) in Western Himalayas. MaxEnt Modelling for the M. fairbankii and S. albiventris indicate a progressive increase in patchiness and decline in distribution for different future decades and Representative Concentration Pathways studied. Sampling effort mapping for O. superciliosa shows that a significant amount of the potential habitat range has been left unexplored or undersurveyed. These maps overlaid over high resolution land-use classification maps is suggested for dedicated surveys for potential rediscovery of the Critically Endangered O. superciliosa.
Ashwin Viswanathan by the State of India's Birds consortuium that involves 10 organizations/institutesState of India's BirdsIndia is home to over 1300 species of birds but populations of only a small number of rare and threatened species are systematically monitored. We know from past examples, however, that it is important to monitor even our more common birds. Catastrophic declines of common species, like those suffered by the once exceedingly abundant Gyps vultures, can be avoided if signs of decline are identified early. But India currently lacks any structured countrywide monitoring effort that can help assess the status of birds and identify signs of decline. In the absence of any such effort, the emergence of semi-structured citizen science in India provided us with an opportunity to bridge this gap in information for the first time. We analyzed a semi-structured dataset consisting of over 10 million observations uploaded by birdwatchers from across the country to the citizen science platform, eBird, to assess the health of 867 species of birds. We estimated abundance trends and the distribution range size of these species while statistically minimizing biases inherent in semi-structured data. We found that over 50% of the reliably assessed species have declined in the long-term (25 years), and over 80% in the short-term (5 years), with open-habitat raptors, grassland specialists and long-distance migratory shorebirds most affected. On the other hand, we found that House Sparrow and Indian Peafowl are doing well. Overall, 101 species were classified as of High Conservation Concern and require immediate attention. We also recommend focused research on priority habitats such as grasslands and coastal mudflats.
Yash Chaudhari Khare, Yash Damania, Aditya Hundekari, Prosenjit Dawn, Vijay Barve , Pankaj Koparde Enter the New Dragon: Dragonfly Diversity Informatics Mediated through Social MediaResearch Questions: What are the spatio-temporal patterns in odonate diversity and distribution in India?
Background: Dragonflies & damselflies are freshwater insects and important ecological indicators however often underestimated in many biodiversity studies. Though India has a great legacy of taxonomic & natural history work on odonate, ecological data is severely lacking.
Purpose: To fill in the knowledge gap and encourage laymen to participate in dragonfly diversity documentation we started an initiative that grew into one of the largest citizen science projects on insects in India, called DragonflySouthAsia. In this paper, we present data collected through participatory science and development of new apps for growing engagement.
Methods: We extracted image data deposited on DragonflySouthAsia facebook group using facebook graph api, code implemented in Python. We performed preliminary analysis on the data to remove dubious and unidentified records. After initial data curation, records were plotted district-wise & month-wise to understand the spatio-temporal distribution of odonates of India.
Results: We extracted 13300 data records with images deposited on DragonflySouthAsia facebook group between January 2011 to January 2020. After initial data curation, we extracted information on 212 species belonging to 107 genera found in India. Kannur, Karimganj, Palakkad, Thane & Pune were top districts from where contributions were made.
Conclusions: Social media platforms such as facebook can be looked at as citizen science data collection platforms, however, need to be managed rigorously to maintain the data quality.
Rahul Khot Katdare, Prasad GondThe eMammal project – Students collecting valuable data on mammalsThe eMammal project is a citizen science initiative. It engages students and teachers to generate data for scientists on the population size, activation patterns and habitat use of animals in a given location through camera traps. In a collaborative effort, Sahyadri Nisarg Mitra (SNM) and Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) implemented this project in 20 schools situated in the remote areas of seven districts in the Western Ghats and Konkan regions of Maharashtra. The main objective of the project was to enable students and their teachers to document wildlife activities in the vicinity of their schools using camera trap and connect with a global network of wildlife scientists to learn about mammals and wildlife conservation. Participation in the project activities and, in particular, hands-on experience in deploying camera traps, retrieving data and uploading images on the website inculcated scientific temperament in school children, and they became more sensitive towards wildlife and its conservation. During the two years, students completed more than 144 deployments resulting into 4656 days of trap nights. These 144 deployments consist of 16624 sequences of 115261 photos. To promote conservation and increase the outreach of project we also conducted programmes like drawing competition, essay competition, film screenings, wildlife week celebrations, nature trails, awareness programmes, tree plantation drives, and quiz completions in each school which received an overwhelming response from students.
Anuja Mital Dharwadkar, Harikirshnan S.Addressing ecological knowledge gaps for freshwater chelonians using citizen scienceThe India Biodiversity Portal is currently one of the largest repositories dedicated to free and open access information on India's biodiversity. The Freshwater Turtles and Tortoises of India (FTTI) group on the portal, initiated in 2016, aims at creating a comprehensive database for freshwater chelonians, a poorly documented yet ecologically significant taxonomic group. We analysed 514 observations across 26 species on FTTI from 2012 till August 2020. Only geo-tagged observations with photos that are peer reviewed by experts to confirm species identification were included. Since 2019 there has been over a 200% significant increase in observations due to dedicated outreach and awareness activities including our ‘Turtle Spotting Week’ campaigns. We also demonstrate the utility of such data in enabling ecological inferences for species. The temporal distribution of Melanochelys trijuga observations (n=129) indicate monsoon (June-August) activity peaks, possibly coinciding with the nesting season. Hotspot mapping analyses of species diversity and abundance showed three significant freshwater turtle hotspots in the Ganga river basin (Uttar Pradesh; 13 species, n=79), Brahmaputra river basin (Assam; 12 species, n=58) and in the Western Ghats states (7 species, n=127). The observations of the three endemic species of India, Indotestudo travancorica (n=18), Nilssonia leithii (n=11) and Vijayachelys silvatica (n=9) also revealed new locality records. This is the first citizen science approach to assess the distribution and diversity of freshwater turtles in India. These preliminary results highlight the potential conservation impacts of citizen science for cryptic, elusive and understudied taxa such as freshwater turtles.
Tarun Menon Vishwanathan, A. Shivaprakash, B. Sehshgiri, Suhel QuaderThe Use of Atlas Data for Bird-friendly Urban PlanningCities are expanding at an unprecedented rate and with growing demand for urban space it is important for us to ensure the maximisation of biodiversity within the constraints of the needs of urbanisation. In cities birds are among the most visible and relatable form of biodiversity and is therefore attractive to policy makers and advocacy groups. This study aims to understand how different habitat types and its combinations affect bird communities found in Mysore city. Bird data was collected as part of the Mysore City Bird Atlas, a pioneering effort by citizens of the Mysore Nature group. The city was divided in 132 cells within which birds were sampled in February and June each year from 2014 to 2016. Using Landsat 8 imagery we classified Mysore’s landscape into 4 habitat categories. We find that vegetation cover and bareground (scrub or agricultural land) are both important for many birds and its loss at the cost of built-up areas will be detrimental to most bird guilds excepts commensals. We also find that if Mysore loses even a couple of lakes many water-associated species will be lost. We have thus created and tested models to help urban planners maximise richness of various bird groups under different land-use change scenarios. If 20% of land is earmarked for a university building, in order to maximise non-commensal bird richness (70 species) our models would advise maintaining 6- 22% vegetation cover, retaining 60-74% of open habitat in the remaining area and conserving any existing waterbodies.
Sudeshna Gupta Gupta, Aastha ShrivastavaLimKnow : A citizen science app for lake managementWetlands are one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. Urbanization has led to an exponential loss of these blue-green spaces. Wetlands serve as urban biodiversity hotspots . In GuwahatI, these water bearers have lost their functionality due to encroachment, sewage influx, dumping of solid waste, excessive macrophyte growth. To protect and restore them, common citizens need to be involved in research and management. Around the world citizen science has been used for lake management. For this project, we have reviewed 35 apps available on PlayStore and AppStore focussing on biodiversity, water quality and invasive species. We also studied the implementations of Machine Learning and Mixed Reality in wetland science in the last ten years. This helped us understand how Augmented Reality can be used for audience engagement and awareness. Therefore, we introduce the first android app in India that will provide information and engage users with wetland biodiversity components of Guwahati utilizing Augmented Reality. It will serve as an educational platform aiming to create an interest in the conservation of surrounding urban lakes and biodiversity. The information on wetland biodiversity is presented in the form of an interactive AR experience. It also eases the physical lake monitoring process for researchers by facilitating invasive species reporting by citizens. Top contributors will be acknowledged with e-badges to generate more in app activity. For pilot study, we have taken Deepor Beel, a Ramsar site and an Important Bird Area. In future, we plan to extend the app for the notified wetlands of Guwahati.

Vijay Barve BarveDid pandemic improve availability of biodiversity occurrence data in IndiaCitizens scientists are increasingly contributing to systematic biodiversity occurrence records on biodiversity portals in India. Slowly but gradually Indian naturalists are making transition from social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram to specialized biodiversity portals like iNaturalist, India Biodiversity Portal and Biodiversity Atlas of India where the data is curated and maintained for access for future research. Number of curious naturalists graduating as citizen scientists is on a rise.
In March of 2020 when restrictions on outdoor activities were placed in India, it was not clear how naturalists would react in terms of continued documentation. Interestingly most portals reported an increase in the number of records during these times. It is perceived that many naturalists found restrictions compelling them indoors, productive time to dig through the archives of photo collections and spend the time to post the photo voucher records on biodiversity portals.
Compared to ~125K records posted on iNaturalist from April 2019-March 2020 from India, more than 150K were posted from 23 March 2020 till end of August 2020 (the lock-down period). We explore the taxonomic, spatial and temporal aspects of data deposited on iNaturalist and how it compares to data deposited before the lock-down period. We fitted linear regression with a number of records as response and month collected as an independent variable. Using the model we extracted the expected value of the number of records, when compared to the actual number of records, we found an increase in the number of records during pandemic lock-down period.
V. Arun Introduction to IBP and the subsequent pedagogical and environmental benefits from itMy love affair with the world of nature began, in 1992, with a walk in to the Silonda trail of Sanjay Gandhi national park. That love affair with birds and trees led me away from the world of engineering to become a gardener in an alternative school and to sea turtle conservation. I continued to dabble in nature observation as an amateur.
Nearly 15 years later into my life, now in Thiruvannamalai, as a founder member of an alternative school and an afforestation team, I met Prabhakar who introduced me to IBP. Then began a foray into insects, a new aspect to my love affair. Through uploading and identifying through IBP I began to learn more and more about insects and other fauna while I began to share our knowledge about plants, trees and birds in our region. This has grown into a reasonable size data base.
Many of my students got interested in the same activity and we began to do this as a team on our nature days and on our nature trips. We have learnt a lot and collated a lot of information.
Then came the plan to expand the girivalam path by cutting down trees. The case was taken up National green tribunal. Our data from IBP was the only one available to prove the value of the diversity of the region. This proved to be crucial evidence which lead to a win. I would like to share the story of this journey and the case.
Rejoice Gassah Anand Ismavel Makunda Nature ClubCitizen Science Initiative at a remote rural mission hospital in Assam .
Rejoice Gassah, Vijay Anand Ismavel (
The “Makunda Nature Club” (MNC) with members drawn from among the staff and students of the hospital, school, nursing school and farm run by the Makunda Christian Leprosy and General Hospital society has several objectives – biodiversity observation, documentation on citizen science portals, research and publication, awareness creation and conservation. The hospital is located in Karimganj District of Assam bordering Mizoram and Tripura in the Barak Valley.
Since its founding, members of the MNC have contributed 26,107 observations to iNaturalist which is 7% of the total observations from India at present. This is a very large number for a single club. The top two contributors are presently No. 2 and No. 4 on the observation list of iNaturalist. Most of the work has been done in the 350 acre hospital campus and surrounding forests. Over 250 species of birds and 350 species of butterflies have been documented and species lists for other taxa are under preparation.
11 articles and have been published in peer-reviewed journals and books.Nature Walks have been conducted for students of the 1200 member Makunda Christian School.
The volume of work done by a few members of a nature club in a remote rural part of India shows that if there is commitment, huge amounts of high quality work is possible. Citizen science can contribute to our understanding of the world around us and MNC is a good example of what can be done.
M. Mathivanan Mathivanan, J. Thomas Mathibalan, A. Francis Roy, P. Maria Antony, S. Thalavai pandi, A. Saravanan, T. Ganesh, M.B.PrashanthTamiraparani Waterbird Count: A Citizen Science Initiative in South Tamil NaduThe perennial river Tamiraparani and the centuries-old irrigation system associated with it has made Tirunelveli, Tenkasi and Thoothukudi districts as the ‘rice bowl’ of Southern Tamil Nadu and an important bird area in India. These districts account for 1387 wetlands and support over 100 species of waterbirds. The Tamiraparani Waterbird Count (TWC) initiated by ATREE’s Agasthyamalai Community Conservation Centre in the year of 2011 with the participation of local citizens. The main objectives of the TWC were to document spatial distribution, richness and abundance of waterbirds, identify important sites for conservation and build a stake of local citizens in the conservation of wetlands. The survey was conducted in the third or fourth week of January. Total count method was followed for the data collection. Over 128 tanks have been surveyed in the 10 years(2011-2020). Ninty three species of waterbirds have been recorded with an average number of birds in each tank varying between 176 to 968. The effort has lead to the discovery of 3 new heronries, one of them being Vagaikulam, a proposed Biodiversity Heritage Site(BHS) and further 6 wetlands shortlisted for conservation. The TWC has involved over 800 citizens from various districts. Such engagement and interactions with citizens has led to the formation of nature clubs that currently co-organize the TWC with ATREE. The TWC effort over 10 years not only gave population information on waterbirds but more importantly it caught the public imagination thereby increasing public stake in the birds and wetland conservation.
Shantanu Joshi Kunte, Prosenjit Dawn, Purnendu RoyOdonata of India: Studying dragonflies and damselflies of India through citizen scienceOdonata, more commonly known as Dragonflies and Damselflies, are  ecologically sensitive indicator taxa, especially for the health of aquatic ecosystems. Through the Odonata of India platform under the umbrella of Biodiversity Atlas – India project, we have been engaging citizens in studying these insects. So far more than 300 users have uploaded 10,500+ images of 290 species. Through collaborating with citizen scientists, our platform has enabled discoveries of four new species and at least ten new records for the country. Dragonflies are easy to observe because of their conspicuous colors and behavior. Colors are very important for odonates as they rely heavily on visual cues for survival. Among odonates and many other groups of organisms, males are generally more brightly colored compared to females. Occasionally in some species, females colored like males (known as ‘andromorph’) are also observed. However, this is very rarely observed amongst dragonflies, and was previously only known from a handful of records in a single species. We compiled 89 records of such females across three species from 2016-2019 and found that 62 of 89 records (70%) were uploaded by citizen scientists on various online portals (10 different sources, including, INaturalist, and Facebook groups). These image-based records allowed us to describe the morphological variation, which was not earlier reported in scientific literature in detail. Our study shows effectively how citizen scientists can contribute to understanding of ecological traits (color in this case) of species through citizen science platforms.
Suneha Jagannathan of SCUBA divers on coral reef health – applications in citizen science Often, there is a lack of citizen science contributors in marine ecosystems due to rigorous training requirements. My project creates a methodology that simplifies data collection, so it can potentially tap into a wider range of SCUBA divers to contribute. This study looks into using perception surveys by scuba divers as a tool for assessing reef health and condition. Based in Tioman Marine Park, Malaysia; it investigates the accuracy of divers’ perceptions on two key characteristics of reef health— coral cover and species diversity. The study also looks into which one of these two characteristics influences divers’ perception of reef health overall. Respondents were asked to rate coral cover, species diversity and reef health. This was compared to empirical coral cover and species richness. Non-parametric analyses on rank-transformed data were performed to compare diver perception ratings to true reef health parameters. The results indicated that divers’ perceptions of reef health are highly correlated with their perceptions of species diversity (Spearman correlation ρ = 0.85), suggesting that divers equate a biodiverse reef to a healthy reef. The project also compared perceptions of recreational divers to perceptions of scientists on the aforementioned reef characteristics, revealing that the diving and scientific communities’ preliminary perceptions of reef health are similar. The study makes a case for perception surveys as a potential citizen science tool for monitoring marine habitats. If administered after a dive in the form of a simple questionnaire, baseline data regarding reef health can be collected in a quick and cost-efficient manner.
Anup Prakash Conservator of Forests Satpura Tiger Reserve Sri. S. K. Singh, Pravar Mourya, Rutuja DhamaleEarly encouraging trends from engagement with citizen groups in the state of Madhya Pradesh, IndiaWe discuss early encouraging trends from engagement with citizen groups in the data-deficient state of Madhya Pradesh (MP) and the case of Satpura (STR) landscape in MP. MP is often called the tiger state of India. Institutional and citizen-led support for monitoring other biodiversity was loosely organized and project-based (vultures, gharials etc.). On the eBird platform, MP was not well represented till 2017, with ‘Kanha Bird Survey 2017’ being an organized effort. Engagement with citizen groups through workshops and surveys by Birdcount India and NCBS Pachmarhi with the forest department (FD) in STR, Hoshangabad district in 2018 boosted bird documentation, and MP and Hoshangabad rose to one of the top positions in the number of checklists recorded on the eBird platform in India. After this, the FD in MP (Kheoni, Kuno, Gandhisagar and Chambal) has started bird surveys adopting the eBird platform. This has resulted in not just recording of new species for the region but also regular monitoring of important bird habitats of threatened species. There is a growing focus-shift to the outside of protected areas. Groups in STR are promoting CitSci of taxa apart from birds with periodic butterfly surveys (MP FD), moth monitoring (NCBS), and planned vegetation surveys. Engagement with tourist lodges and photographers reveals increased awareness of using CitSci platforms, recording common species, notes, and calls in addition to photography. This bodes well, and in the future, STR might be a model region on how focused engagement with multiple stakeholders in a region boosts biodiversity monitoring.
Abhishek Jamalabad Modi, Sejal MehtaCharting Biodiversity in a Transforming Urban Seascape - A Citizen-driven ApproachThe marine intertidal zone is a relatively poorly-known wildlife habitat in India. Sound management and responsible utilisation of this space remains hindered partly by a dearth of data that can help evaluate its ecological significance. In 2017, we initiated a citizen-driven effort to collect biodiversity data from Mumbai’s intertidal habitats. As part of this ongoing project, we use the iNaturalist platform to document intertidal biodiversity via public participation, and have thus far documented 391 identified (and several as-yet unidentified) species, via 57 observers. The project has served to document previously unrecorded and “lost” species from the region, with iNaturalist’s peer-reviewed identification system also serving to reliably identify some species misidentified in previously published literature. While the project remains open-ended in terms of data access and use, it has so far seen significant use as a source of biodiversity records in two third-party reports in 2019; one of these was used successfully in a legal case against an infrastructure project in the intertidal zone. The project continues to serve the broader purpose of engaging and educating diverse urban audiences, across age groups, of the existence and value of this habitat; this has served to enable some of our early participants to initiate their own documentation efforts parallel to ours. We further aim to refine this model and expand it to data-deficient intertidal regions outside our present limits of Mumbai, whilst also utilising our public dataset to answer specific ecological questions to aid better management of these areas.
Peroth Balakrishnan Bindu Lessons from Snake Sense, a citizen science and education project on snake conservation from KeralaResearch question: Aim of this programme was to understand the patterns of snake kills and role of conservation education to reduce the killing of non-venomous snakes in Malappauram, Palakkad and Thrissur districts in Kerala. Background: Direct human killing has been identified as an important cause of population decline in snakes. Majority of such malicious kills of snakes occur in the rural areas because the envenomings and deaths resulting from snake bites are a particularly important public health problem throughout the rural tropics. Purpose: of this study was to understand the patterns of snake killing and the impact of such mortality on snake populations. Methodology: In 2002, an education programme to reduce malicious kills snakes was initiated focusing on students, teachers, youth and general public and a citizen scientist network with these participants was formed to collect data on snake kills. Results: 682 citizen scientists participated in the programme. During 2003-2013, the participants provided information on 894 direct human kills and more than 1300 snake kills by vehicular collision, agricultural practices and attack by pets. They also managed to save more than 500 non-venomous snakes from human persecution. Conclusion: Citizen science provided valuable data by recording direct and human-induced kills of snakes. Direct intervention reduced killing of several non-venomous species. The most benefited is the Travancore wolf snake, often persecuted due to its similarity to the deadly poisonous Indian krait. The education programme has helped to draw local attention and interest to preserve snakes.
Madhavan A.P. with our eyes wide openIn the quest to understand the ecology and the land that surrounds us; whether it is a school trip, or regular interfaces with our backyard and surrounding neighborhood; observation and curiosity has been the key. To become familiar with our biodiversity, with the magical and intricate relationships between flora and fauna that co-inhabit and give structure to our landscapes, houses, groves and gardens. These dynamic processes of observing, connecting, recognizing and understanding is the back-bone of a learning arc and a fundamental aspect of joy and excitement. Who knows where the next secret, the next burst of colour, the next flurry of activity will come bounding, blossoming and exploding forth!
The Forest way community, and some of its human inhabitants, Have been on a journey for several years. We have been witness to many a story and have been part of a gradual understanding; an intricate and a personal one, with our ecology and ecosystems. With its ups and downs and twists and turns; but always ending with awe, at the magical web of life.We would like to share reflections, connections and our learning process over these years, as an invitation to engage. Exploring what it means to be in a process of understanding with our eyes wide open.
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