|Presenting Author's Name||Presentation Title||Co-Author(s) Name||Abstract|
|Ashish Jha||Kerala Bird Atlas 2015-2020: aspects and outcomes||The Kerala Bird Atlas (KBA) is a state-wide citizen-science project aimed at assessing the distribution of avian species across the state. Over 400 volunteers systematically surveyed the entire Kerala for two seasons, dry (mid-Jan. to mid-Mar.) and wet (mid-July to mid-Sep.) during 2015-2020. Four 15 minute checklists were made per sub-cell per season and every bird species seen or heard during the sampling session was noted. With 0.3 million records of 382 species from over 25000 checklists, KBA is Asia’s largest bird atlas in terms of geographical extent, sampling effort and species coverage. This data was utilized to derive season-wise distribution maps of the species. Species count, richness and evenness were higher in northern and central Kerala than southern Kerala, despite sampling effort being consistent across all regions (except Idukki and Pathanamthitta districts). Most of the endemic species and SoIB concern category species were distributed in the Western Ghats. The threatened species were not restricted to the Western Ghats and were also distributed across the western regions of the state. Among the winter migrants analyzed, 95% showed higher abundance during the dry season (Jan.–Mar.) than in the wet season. Among resident species, 52% showed no change in abundances, 35% showed higher abundance in the dry season, and 12% showed higher abundance in the wet season. The KBA dataset is an important tool for the study of macroecology, climate change and species-habitat associations.|
|Peeyush Sekhsaria||Bird collisions with buildings in India: A synthesis of current knowledge||Ashwin Vishwanathan||Collisions with glass facades of buildings are recognized as a major source of mortality for birds around the world. Many 100s of millions are estimated to die in North America every year but we know little about the issue in India other than anecdotal mentions. To better understand this critical issue in India, we collated and analyzed information documented on various platforms. We obtained the data from three broad sources 1) Facebook posts including comment sections; notably from pages such as Indian Birds; Sanctuary Nature Foundation and BNHS; 2) Citizen science platforms; iNaturalist, India Biodiversity Portal and eBird 3) Urban wildlife rescue groups; ResQ Pune and Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre Bangalore. We also created a “Bird Collisions” project on iNaturalist to systematically tag data uploaded to the platform. We sourced a total of 736 observations of collisions of 209 species of birds from across India . Black-backed Dwarf-Kingfisher and Indian Pitta are most prone to collisions during autumn migration. Overall, there's no seasonality, birds all over the country are prone to collisions. Unlike parts of North America and Europe where most collisions are during migration, collisions are similarly likely during every month of the year in India. However, Black-backed Dwarf Kingfisher and Indian Pitta are most likely to collide with windows during September and October during Autumn migration. We suggest that this can be a significant conservation issue and recommend thorough documentation, and mitigation measures both for home owners and architects in this study.|
|Ajay Gadikar||Avi-fauna Data Collectio in Madhya Pradesh thru Bird Surveys||Madhya Pradesh being renowned for their mammalian biodiversity is home to large number of bird species as well. Around 400 species of birds are known to occur here however it is likely that several additional species remain undocumented. In addition, there is not much information on the distribution and abundance of birds found here. To fill up this gap the birders and Forest department of M.P., has started a series of surveys across all the protected areas.|
To carry out these surveys the department invites birders from across the country to help them in the collection of the data. A lot of people in the form of citizen scientist had given their contribution in the documentation of birds and eventually information on bird’s presence, abundance, seasonality etc. is getting collected.
For collecting the data Ebird app is generally used so that all the data can be collected in electronic form which can be analyzed at a faster pace.
Being a coordinator and an active participant in most of these surveys, I had seen that this exercise has resulted in collection of much needed data on diverse and rich avi-fauna of the protected areas. In coming years this exercise is proposed to be continued and will be extended to non- protected areas also.
With the help of forest department we are working to collate the data collected from different surveys and compile it in a meaningful manner.
|Ameya Deshpande||Conservation of City Wetlands through Crowd Studying Odonates in the Marathwada Region, Maharashtra|
Shravan Paralikar; Neha Mujumdar; Dr. Prosenjit Dawn; Dr. Pankaj Koparde
|Odonates (dragonflies & damselflies) are freshwater insects often used as ecological indicators for wetland assessments. Spatiotemporal and ecological data on odonates is still lacking from many parts of India, especially drier regions such as the drought-prone Marathwada region of the Maharashtra State. Studies have demonstrated that like birds and butterflies, odonates can be used as potential taxa to create awareness amongst citizens regarding natural resources around them, especially in the urban context. During 2019-2021, we systematically sampled species-habitat data across five sites in two districts of the Marathwada Region, opportunistically sampled odonates from 13 sites across three districts, and conducted nine citizen science camps and webinars to increase information from the data poor region. The citizen science activities were in collaboration with schools, colleges, NGOs, and Forest Department. We created a three-fold leaflet in two languages, English and Marathi, containing species information, odonate biology, and citizen science portal information for easy access by the participants. We recorded 46 species in total, comprising 33% of the State’s odonate fauna. The overall species composition was characteristic of assemblages found in dry regions. Multivariate analysis indicated two sites showing greater diversity and needing management interventions. Through the citizen science camps and webinars we reached 1043 participants. Through citizen’s effort 39 observations were uploaded on iNaturalist and 27 species data to Odonata of India website. Here we present the first-ever data on odonates collected from the Marathwada region through intensive field surveys and citizens’ involvement.|
|Debanjana Dey||Citizen science and decision making for conservation of livestock biodiversity in India||This paper explores the use of citizen science for livestock biodiversity conservation and decision making in India. In India, domesticated breeds are registered by the National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources (NBAGR) and most of these breeds have been carefully bred and reared by pastoral communities for centuries, protecting the breeds from dilution. Proper documentation of animal genetic resources is necessary for India is losing its vast biodiversity due to lack of proper documentation and recognition of the breeds. Recognition and registration of livestock breeds by NBAGR have become possible due to its collaborative efforts with Civil Society Organizations (CSO), State Agricultural Universities and pastoral communities. This paper presents a case study of the Banni grasslands, Gujarat, to show how citizen science and working with citizen scientists (pastoral community), NBAGR created guidelines for recognition and registration of livestock breeds in the country. The study used a qualitative research methodology. The study found that the creation of Breeders’ Association by collective efforts of the local pastoral community with concerns to protect their livestock and livelihood, along with scientists from NBAGR who interacted with local community to know about the lesser known breeds which needs scientific validation, and local CSO, led to the registration of Banni buffalo breed, the first breed to be registered in the country after Independence. Such practices reinforced by collective efforts and public consultations expand the horizon of how we understand biodiversity and how we conserve biodiversity, thereby harnessing the potential of citizen science to inform policy decisions.|
|Krishna Ravi Srinivas||Citizen Science and Science, Technology and Innovation: Need and case for a synergy||Abstract for CitSci India 2021|
Citizen Science and Science, Technology and Innovation: Need and case for a synergy
Citizen Science (CS) has not received much attention or support in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) and practice in India. The draft STIP does not address this adequately. But globally CS is now considered more as a complementary mechanism for doing science as well as a method for public engagement and develop alternative understandings and practices in doing STI. Given the diversity in India in terms of knowledge systems, cultures including languages and an active civil society, CS if supported and promoted can contribute to STI in India and also help in developing a participatory, citizen centric, bottoms up STI in India. It can enrich and contribute to inclusive innovation, frugal innovation and grassroots innovation besides enabling other mode(s) of doing and communicating science. Moreover, 3D printing, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) biology open up new opportunities for doing CS in India and this combined with maker cultures, citizen labs and similar mechanisms can make a real difference to the way STI is understood and practiced. But while all this may seem to be utopian, it is possible to harness CS and make the best of it by creating a synergy between CS and STI. This can be done by a policy and strategy and this article outlines such a policy and strategy and argues that this is doable. It contends that such a policy will have a larger positive impact in other fields also besides enriching education and learning.
|Vinayaka G. Hegde||Evidence of life stage and event specific responses of Danaus butterflies to rising temperatures||Shivani Jadeja||Owing to climate change animals are likely to face higher temperatures than they would have experienced in the recent past. Rising temperatures are likely to severely affect butterflies and other animals that cannot regulate their own body temperature. In response, the occurrence of butterflies may shift over space and/or time such that they may continue to occur at temperatures similar to those experienced in their recent past. Alternatively, butterflies may begin to occur at relatively higher temperatures, independent of whether they shift over space and/or time. Further, these responses may differ for adult and larval stages, and events like mating. We determined whether the temperature at butterflies’ sites of occurrence shifted over the last decade for three species of butterflies - Danaus chrysippus (plain tiger) and D. genutia (common tiger) in India, and D. plexippus (monarch butterfly) in Mexico. We combined data from citizen science contributions with images from iNaturalist and ERA5, a dataset with high resolution temperature estimates. We used the images to extract information on the butterflies’ life stage, sex, and event including mating. While there were species-specific differences, our findings showed that the average temperatures at which adults occurred increased over time, but larvae showed mixed trends. Further, on average mating events were observed at higher temperatures over time. Our results show that adult and larval stages of the butterflies may respond differently to rising temperatures and provide insights to inform hypotheses for stage- and event-specific responses of butterflies to rising temperatures.|
|Shyam S. Phartyal||Assessment of Scope and Relevance of Citizen Science in Indian Higher Education Institution||Harsh Yadav||In recent years, Citizen Science (CS) has gained popularity among researchers of Indian Higher Education Institution (HEI) like their peers in the global north as a potential tool to conduct large-scale tempo-spatial research studies. However, CS activities in India seems to be popular only among researchers of few selected disciplines at selected institutions or geographical locations. The present study assessed the scope and relevance of CS in Indian HEI by recording the perception of all stockholders through a pan-Indian, large-scale, online qualitative survey. We invited participants from all walks of the society (school/college students, parents, researchers, academicians, policy-makers, etc.) irrespective of their educational and professional background. We recorded their responses to the survey questionnaire for four months, from January to May 2021. Our survey results revealed explicit geographical and subject discipline-wise biases in participant’s acquaintance and preference about CS. Biodiversity/ecology discipline recorded around 50% of responses. More than two-thirds of respondents conveyed their interest in CS. Still, they highlighted the lack of hand-on-experience and unavailability of formal courses on CS at schools/university levels. Our study emphasized an urgent inclusion of the CS curriculum in the mainstream education system. Especially as an optional/elective/short course to train the next generation of researchers on several dimensions/aspects of CS and trap its potential for large scale research studies in all disciplines of higher educations.|
|Paul Pop||An investigation into the spatio-temporal patterns of the Himalayan Vagrant butterfly||Vagrans egista sinha (Kollar, 1844), the Himalayan Vagrant is a species of Nymphalid (Brush-footed) Butterflies whose records have considerably increased over the past half-a-decade, with many new sightings west to their known range (in North-West India). This has been considered as a range extension. As part of an ongoing project on phenology of Flycatchers in Western Himalayas, some new records of this species have been collected from systematic and opportunistic sampling from Bilaspur district, Himachal Pradesh (which are first records for the district). This raised the question of whether the purported range extension towards the west could instead be a range shift or vagrancy, and also whether there is any shift in elevational ranges in the populations across their known range. Using data from public participation in scientific research, supplemented by academic sources (such as published literature and museum collections), these research question were addressed. The accuracy of results using ‘citizen science’ data was also explored using the same dataset, especially that of coordinates (and elevation derived from it). It was discovered that there has not been a range shift (either longitudinal or latitudinal), but instead a case of range extension. Other results indicated that there is no climb of population to higher elevations and no spatial differences in elevational ranges in the populations (the caveat for preliminary results being sampling bias). It was also discovered that the method of data collection by, and extraction from ‘citizen science’ portals, influenced the accuracy of the results. Some remedial solutions are suggested.|
Shubham Dhanraj Chhapekar
|Promoting awareness of insects through the Insect Walk - To Know, Love & Conserve among citizens.|
Ajinkya Bhatkar, Yogita Chhapekar, Aman Deogade, Kumud Paidlewar, Mamta Bhadade
|Environment education and activities to create wildlife conservation awareness is a growing trend. Events such as bird watching, tree walks, or wildlife safari are targeted to make people aware of the vertebrates and conspicuous plant representatives. These activities are mostly ignorant of invertebrates and smaller fauna. I have started an initiative to spread awareness on insects through “Insect Walk-To Know, Love & Conserve”. This is the first of its kind initiative to spread awareness about insect diversity and create scientific assertiveness in addition to the scientific documentation. The activity is being conducted every week since June 2019 and has become a Citizen Science movement in the city of Nagpur.|
This is a weekly activity where citizens and experts meet every Sunday morning at a pre-decided location to explore insects’ diversity. The location, meeting time, and routes are decided to accommodate the seasonal changes. Most insects are documented through geotagged photographs and samples are collected only in case of ambiguous identity. Nagpur Forest Division of Maharashtra Forest Department has officially adopted this activity as their public outreach from November 2020. Till date more than 2000 citizens have participated. We have successfully celebrated Big Butterfly Month in 2020 and have generated a checklist of butterflies in Nagpur City. To include the diversity of nocturnal insects, we are conducting light trap surveys with the help of Forest Department. These activities will be beneficial to determine the seasonal diversity of insects, effect of climate change and implementation of suitable conservation strategy
|Unnikrishnan MP||Emerging Moth-ers of Kerala through citizen science|
Manoj Karingamadathil, Firoz AK, Haneesh & Mahesh
|Moths are the less cared taxa in Lepidoptera order when compare with Butterflies. In this presentation, trying to share the Story of Moth-ers of Kerala, a evolving citizen science community in Kerala, growing through National Moth Week Campaign each year. |
From 2017 to 2021, the community documented 1000+ sp moths with 17000+ observation and 700+ observers joined from the state in iNaturalist Project. This presentation planning to share some statics, scientific outputs, reports of rare moths, each year programs and other community strategies including whats-app, Facebook and our other activities to attract more interested peoples and knowledge sharing.
|Manoj Karingamadathil||Data Availability of Open Access Biodiversity Information's in Kerala||Firoz AK||Data Availability of Open Access Biodiversity Information's in Kerala|
This presentation we wish to discuss, the data availability in biodiversity, especially the species spatial distribution data with different initiatives like govt, NGO's and citizen science portals. Issues faced in biodiversity loss analysis for kerala floods. Govt Policies related in this field, especially Open Data Policy draft behalf of Rebuild Kerala initiative. We like to stress the point , public funded projects data must be available as open data for public use. In this presentation also covering the statics with tables, info-graphics and maps of major citizen science portals like ebird, ibp, inat and also GBIF with regards, Kerala Data.
Authors are the coordinators of https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/kerala-biodiversity-monitoring-network
|Kaushik Sarkar||Capacity building for bird monitoring in Thanamir, Nagaland||Ramya Nair||People who live in close proximity with natural landscapes often have great knowledge of natural history and birds. Despite this wealth of local knowledge in many remote regions, formal information that can help with science and conservation remains scarce because local knowledge does not yet feed into formal knowledge repositories. Participation in formal and citizen science initiatives is hindered both by language as well as access to training in technologies that facilitate participation. In an attempt to fill this gap, we conducted a training program on bird monitoring from March-April 2021 in Thanamir, Nagaland, at the request of a team of bird enthusiasts from the remote region. During these two months, we trained a team of eight birdwatchers to document bird lists, and monitor birds in their region using the eBird app. We also trained the team in the identification of difficult bird groups. By the end of the training program, each team member enjoyed expanding the Thanamir bird list, while learning to collect systematic data and contribute to citizen science. We learnt that the success of the training workshop was due to three components – 1) Communication in a local language and bird listing in both the local language as well as in English 2) Sustained engagement over a long period 3) Communicating that the knowledge can help create future livelihoods and aid in the conservation of biodiversity in the region. We encourage that more such training workshops are conducted in remote areas around the country in collaboration with local communities.|
|Nishand Venugopal||Prose and Poetry to Citizen Science- Being a Nature Enthusiast||This is regarding Outreach for citizen science. Nature images are powerful medium to inspire. I would like to share my experience of encouraging Citizen Science through prose and poetry along with visual support. My abstract would be of using the power of social media along with images and writing to encourage people to observe the nature around them. Today mobile phones are an important entity in everyone's life. People use it to take pictures too. You don't have to possess a professional camera to take pictures. By encouraging them to share their images in citizen science portals will give a wide range of data for conservation. It is also about the theme called active social media listening. I would like to share a nature enthusiast's perspective on getting involved in citizen science initiative. This poem may help to improve the experience of the participants.
|Suneha Jagannathan||Reeflog - involving divers in citizen science|
Kartik Shanker, Naveen Namboothri
|Background: India has a vast coastline and a wide diversity of marine ecosystems – coral reefs, seagrass beds, rocky reefs, sand beds and seaweed meadows. Unfortunately, there is a lack of both spatial and temporal data on biodiversity in these systems. Reeflog is a citizen science program which aims to monitor marine ecosystems by involving recreational SCUBA divers as participants.|
Objective: Reeflog aims to create a platform for data collection efforts by citizens from marine ecosystems. Equally importantly, Reeflog can act as a tool for marine education in the watersports community in India.
Methodology: Reeflog data collection slates, along with supplementary educational material will be distributed to dive companies across the country, for them to implement with their clientele. Collaborating with dive companies eases outreach to volunteers, while also ensuring safety of the participants. Twelve species of fish and invertebrates from each geographic region are selected, based on the following criteria: ecologically significant, easy for a recreational diver to identify, representative of species found in the region, and from varied trophic levels. These species are accurately illustrated on survey slates (which can be taken underwater) and divers are required to mark the total number of sightings of these species. In addition, they are also expected to mark any rare or charismatic species (like sharks, turtles, etc) if they are seen.
Expected outcome: The program is expected to be launched in 2021-22, and hopes to reach dive sites across the country.
|Krishna Anujan||A Malayalee Mango Mystery||Mangoes are synonymous with summers in Kerala, but are patterns of mango flowering changing over the years? And why might this be happening? Ecological detectives working together as SeasonWatch decided to tackle this issue with citizen science data. We combined SeasonWatch observations collected since 2014, personal accounts of key SeasonWatchers, and climate data from the region to answer these questions. We first confirmed that there were differences in peak mango flowering across the years - both in the timing and amount of flowering. The amount of flowering at its peak was markedly lower in 2020 and 2021 and the timing of the peak was shifted to later in the year overall.|
To investigate why these changes are occurring, we lined up the suspects and tried to systematically eliminate them. We tested whether mango varieties or geographical location might be affecting these patterns. Climate change has important influences on changes in tree behaviour and so, we finally tested whether rainfall has an influence on patterns of mango flowering in Kerala. We found that rainfall may have caused the unusual behaviour of mango trees in 2021, but for 2020, this reason didn’t hold. Other than that, the relationship between trees and climate is perhaps subtler and more nuanced. To further our understanding of the links between trees and climate, we need more ecological detectives on ground and strong collaborations with climate detectives.
|Sayee Girdhari||Being 'Social' for Citizen Science||‘SeasonWatch’ is a citizen science project that collects information on the flowering and fruiting times of trees all over India. To find a pattern in this timing, a large number of trees in different geographies and climates need to be observed, which is done by citizen scientists around the country. The pattern can then be studied to understand if and how climate change is affecting tree phenology. Citizen Science is ‘science by the people, for the people’. But not everyone knows it yet! How do citizen science projects reach out to potential citizen scientists, follow up with them, and encourage them to collect data? The task is especially tough during the pandemic when we're socially distant.|
Social media is an effective tool to understand our audience, their interests, to customize our content and make science accessible. SeasonWatch uses social media - Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to reach out to its citizen scientists. We engage individually with people through tree observations. We talk about common trees in different parts of the country. We conduct online workshops to train new audiences and to engage with our seasoned tree-observers, the school teachers, and carry out fun activities to encourage tree watching. Our recent social media outreach has resulted in 50 new individuals joining the project in a month. Here, we share our outreach experiences with the aim of highlighting the continuous process of engaging with citizen scientists.
|Mittal Gala||Improving the quality of big citizen science data: Learnings from eBird||Ashwin Viswanathan||Citizen science initiatives are transforming the way in which biodiversity data is collected at large scales for research and conservation. However, it is challenging to ensure that data collected by a large number of individuals with varying degrees of experience are consistently of good quality. iNaturalist and eBird are two of the most popular community-driven citizen science projects that recruit volunteer reviewers to help in reviewing data. At Bird Count India, we have worked with volunteer eBird reviewers across the country for the last eight years to ensure that the data remains well curated. Here, we present our learnings on how a volunteer-driven system can be best managed. We have found that a country-wide project works best if decentralized. Both at the national and regional levels, online and social media platforms form the core of the communication between over 200 reviewers (x% women). State-specific WhatsApp and Google Groups are especially useful in creating region-specific automatic data filters and taking decisions about review. Periodic video meetings and tutorial videos for newly recruited and experienced reviewers are useful in creating a review workflow that is consistent across all the reviewers and to improve their skills. We firmly believe that a diverse group of reviewers is necessary to improve the data quality on eBird India and are making a conscious effort to increase the gender diversity among the reviewers. We hope that other citizen science initiatives can draw from our experience and develop similarly successful data quality management systems.|
|Muhammed Nizar K||How SeasonWatch popularized Citizen Science in Keral||How SeasonWatch popularized citizen science in Kerala|
Seasonwatch, a citizen science programme monitoring tree seasonality across India, started in Kerala in November 2010 with the help of Mathrubhumi. Every year, ~85% of the data contributed to SeasonWatch comes from schools in Kerala. SeasonWatch is able to reach students and teachers because of Mathrbhumi’s SEED (Student Empowerment for Environmental Developments) eco-club network across the state. Every year, SeasonWach conducts 100s of workshops for students and teachers in Kerala across 41 education districts, with a reach of 4000 teachers and 40,000 students. Since 2010, thousands of students who have participated in the project actively, and have obtained their matriculation from Kerala, were aware of the concept of ‘citizen science’. In the beginning of the project, the biggest logistic hurdle was access to the internet, which is the technological backbone of data collection at SeasonWatch. Despite these hurdles, dedicated teachers started SeasonWatching with their students and recorded observations in notebooks, often collecting 50-60 notebooks worth of data before uploading from a computer with an internet connection. We are able to keep in touch and follow-up with many teachers across Kerala for last 10 years, and who continue to be part of this citizen science programme. Over the years, we have also gathered many experiences from students and teachers about their passion for trees, and interesting stories of trees after they started seasonwatch. Kerala continues to be a unique contributor, with students and teachers actively contributing data even during the ongoing pandemic and making friends with trees.
|Swaroop Patankar||The use of eBird data for conservation in India||eBird is a global citizen science initiative by the Cornell lab of Ornithology. Birdwatchers upload their observations of birds to this online platform, and the public data is in turn used to generate knowledge about birds and help with their conservation. The eBird platform was adopted by birdwatchers in India in 2014, and has since then grown into one of the largest citizen science databases in the country. The large volume of data has allowed birdwatchers, professional researchers and conservationists to use the data to further bird research and conservation in India. For example, based on the eBird data alone, the first comprehensive report was made in 2020 which threw light on the distribution, abundance and conservation status of 867 bird species in India. In this talk, I will summarize the role that eBird data has played in various conservation efforts including 1) informing ecological assessment reports 2) helping in understanding abundance trends and status of India’s birds 3) providing vital information to help designate protected areas 4) providing evidence in critiques and legal proceedings initiated to protect ecosystems 5) informing reassessments of the threatened status of bird species. I will discuss case studies, success stories and future opportunities for the use of this large data repository for the conservation of birds in India.|
|Peeyush Sekhsaria||Rain Gauging - hyper local rainfall data generation||Abhijit Gandhi||Rainfall measurement has remained largely ignored and left almost entirely to government agencies. Rainfall is highly localised and there is a need for viable data and its analysis for understanding and planning. To generate this data; starting last monsoon (2020) citizens of Pune, Nashik and Aurangabad have been measuring daily rainfall. This years work builds upon the learnings from last year and we are building on the same data (A presentation "What does it mean to be a first-time citizen scientist measuring rainfall" Poster CSP081 was made on this work in CitSci India 2020). Locations within Pune urban (including the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation and cantonments) is being intensively rain-gauged, as compared to last year locations based on the regions geography that were not covered during last years exercise were mapped and new participants identified. Additionally, everybody is using manual rain-gauges certified by Indian Meteorological Department. The daily rainfall data of different 51 locations is maintained at one place and a chart is published daily, monthly. This data clearly indicates pattern of reducing rainfall from West to East, days of well spread monsoon and sporadic rainfall, influence of geographical features like hills, co-relation of rainfall with ground water, wet and dry areas of Pune. This activity also aims at sensitizing citizen and involving students to understand how rainfall is measured, how a rain gauge works, what types of clouds cause what types of rain, how cyclones impact direction of movement of clouds and influences the rainfall.|
|Maxim Rodrigues K||The joy and tears of digitizing historical bird data||Hareesha A.S||Before eBird became popular in India in 2014, many birdwatchers used to diligently note down their observations of birds in physical notebooks. Birdwatchers in India today, however, use the online portal eBird like a personal notebook to list and summarize bird observations. Online data comes with a great advantage, in that aggregated observations from thousands of birdwatchers can serve to provide new knowledge and insights about birds. Online data of past observations are critical to understand how our bird communities have changed in the long-term. We therefore set out on a project to digitize historical bird observations and upload them to eBird by collaborating with birdwatchers who have carefully maintained physical notebooks. This process led us on a journey with these birdwatchers through eras and landscapes that we can never experience today – when vultures were as common as crows, when Red-necked Falcons nested right in the centre of what is now Bangalore city, or into the midst of the India-Pakistan war in 1971! The process has also been challenging as the names of many bird species have now changed and locations no longer exist. Nevertheless, thousands of historical checklists have now been uploaded to eBird which made possible the long-term trend assessments in the State of India’s Birds report. We continue to engage with amazing and meticulous birdwatchers in the pursuit of learning as much as we can about India’s birds.|
|Sachin Marti||Citizen Science Action – Protecting the Bawkhals||Sirus Libeiro||Presents a significant challenge towards ensuring water security for residents, as well as often ignored concerns for maintaining biodiversity in these spaces. This paper analyses the case of the Vasai-Virar area within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region to examine the role of water activists and citizen scientists not only in policy advocacy, but also in terms of generating data and monitoring of ponds in the region. Our work follows the activities of self-organized residents in a cluster of villages along the western coast of India, as they coalesce around the goal of generating critical data on ponds, disseminating ‘best-practices’ on water conservation, and forming alternative plans to ensure their protection. We also examine the historical functions of these ponds vis-à-vis the hydro-geology of the region, and its impact on the bio-diversity of the region. In face of urbanization since the 1980s, these ponds have fallen in disuse. Their restoration, monitoring, and protection by these street-scientists is now framed through the lens of water security and quality as means of flood control. The activities of these actors present a useful case-study in outlining a variety of methods mobilized to use available technology to generate crucial data, the process of ‘translating’ this data not just for the community, but also administrative officials, and the mediating role played by these citizen-scientists. We argue that the work of these activists-despite limitations of scale and resources- provides newer ways to think about institutionalizing the role of the community-based actors in informing and shaping public policy.|
|Ramnarayan Kalyanaraman||Title Community Science and the Biodiversity Picture Subtitle Connecting People & Adding Resolution||India is one of 17 mega-diverse countries. With 2.4% of the world's land area, it accounts for 7-8% of all recorded species, which include some of the world's most iconic emblems of nature. A significant percentage of biodiversity of India lives outside of protected areas (roughly 4.95% of the country's surface area) where rapid destructive practices, pollution, and land use change are dramatically decimating natural landscapes. The present picture of Biodiversity information, documentation, & writing emanates from a small body of Scientists, Researchers, Nature observers and to some extent from the Forest & Wildlife Departments. Biodiversity research is very much a niche & esoteric field. Available literature & guides are largely in English while vernacular literature is mostly basic. Yet this picture of Biodiversity in India is "pixelated", lacking in both depth & density, and significantly missing representation from people of rural India. Poor basic education, limited access to literature & tools, lack of training exclude people, who live in close proximity to biodiversity, often depending on it for livelihoods, from contributing to biodiversity knowledge. They also, because of these factors, get excluded from participating in biodiversity conservation leadership, or in informed livelihoods processes. India's Nature - A Nature and Biodiversity Community Science Initiative has initiated a process to engage casual observers, serious amateurs, & professionals to join together to observe and share their knowledge, while concurrently developing a support system, to encourage and nurture nature observation in rural communities with a special emphasis on supporting people, especially women, from less privileged background.|
|Ashwin Viswanathan||Citizen science as a tool to understand bird migration||Tarun Menon||Migration in birds and other organisms is a remarkable phenomenon. Our knowledge about this complex phenomenon, however, remains limited because the tools required to study migration are not accessible to everyone. Conventional techniques to study bird migration, like satellite tracking, are resource intensive, which means that only a small number of birds can be tracked every year by a few researchers. In this talk, we will present the potential of citizen science as a tool to understand bird migration. Birdwatchers across the world upload their bird observations to eBird, a global citizen science platform, where every observation is associated with a date and location. By taking snapshots of the global distributions of bird species at different points in the year and stitching them together, migration can be visually simulated. We downloaded the publicly available data on eBird for 70 species and created separate migration GIFs for each using the software R. All GIFs are downloadable on the Bird Count India website and the code is publicly viewable on GitHub. We will present novel insights about migration that have emerged from these dynamic GIFs, and discuss how these visualizations have allowed us to effectively communicate the phenomenon of migration to the general public. We hope that this project will inspire others to use the data in innovative ways to better understand our birds.|
|Siddharth Kulkarni||Spider Week India: A novel citizen science initiative to document spiders|
Ayan Mondal, Atul Vartak, Anubhav Agarwal, Vijay Barve
|Public participation through citizen science has remarkably advanced the pace of documenting biodiversity. Although citizen science has been practiced for centuries, it is becoming increasingly popular due to the internet and technological advancements. SpiderIndia was formed to promote sharing observations among citizens through photographs and discussions. A part of DiversityIndia, SpiderIndia has now grown toa community of about 9,000 naturalists. SpiderIndia organized ‘Spider Week India 2020’ between 15-23 August, 2020. Using social media, we invited biodiversity enthusiasts, especially spider enthusiasts, to photograph spiders and post their records on iNaturalist and/or India Biodiversity Portal. On iNaturalist, a total of 225 citizens posted more than 4,200 observations of spiders, which represent more than 300 taxa and on India Biodiversity Portal, 40 citizens contributed more than 1,350 spider records which represent about 240 taxa. Several synanthropic species were documented due to the work-from-home situation brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic. This event also provided an opportunity for users to revisit their photo archives and publish them as records. On iNaturalist more than 55% of the records were historical i.e. observations recorded before the Spider Week period. Data from 18 states and union territories were received during this period, although the volume of data from different parts of India was highly variable. Here we present some of the findings about the participation in Spider Week India 2020. Spider Week is going global during 2021 by partnering with various local organizations.|
|Anandarup Bhadra||Spread the Word, Bird by Bird||Titash Chakrabarti||The tribes living around Susunia hills, in Bankura, West Bengal have a cultural history of being hunters. The tradition still continues to this day, to some extent. As a result, the Susunia hills remain as a small island of biodiversity, whereas the surrounding plains have been abandoned by most local carnivores and herbivores.|
School of Birds aims to get local children interested in birdwatching, so that they may eventually protect the local habitat and prevent hunting. From December 2020, we have formed a bird watching club with a few Bauri children in the area who have been involved with School of Birds since 2016.
Having an opportunity to voice their own thoughts and experiences in in-door sessions about issues concerning local wildlife is very important in their development as active stakeholders who may take on a role in conservation.
We also go out in the field with the children and observe local birds. This is a natural extension of their interest in wildlife (although it stems from the purpose of trapping/hunting them). The kids are skilled at spotting wildlife and appreciate the chance to utilise it. We log the data through the eBird app and hope to see the impact of reduced tourism in the area due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Through these activities the children in the bird watching club shall be more involved in the protection of the local birding routes and indirectly all local habitats, as evidenced by their current interest in preventing trapping of birds.
|Sreeparna Dutta||KURMA: An expanding network for chelonian conservation and data collection in India|
Shailendra Singh, Dev Banerjee, Natasha Ashok
|Tortoises and freshwater turtles (TFT) are highly threatened vertebrates, with 29 species native to India. However, there is a knowledge gap on distribution, population and threats to TFTs, along with a lack of sensitization on their ecological role. So how can we acquire data on species-wise distribution, threats, and population dynamics of TFTs throughout a huge country like India, along with improving their awareness among the masses? Addressing this, “KURMA Tracking Indian Turtles”, was developed a mobile application to engage citizens in conservation by identifying, classifying and reporting their TFT sightings, thus creating a national turtle database. Since its launch in May '20, KURMA has gained 2,250 users and 263 sightings (123 rescues &140 observations) from 23 states. Maximum observation (36%) and rescues (40%) were from UP, probably due to the intense TFT conservation efforts in the state. 26 species have been reported, with maximum reports of Indian Flapshell Turtle, concomitant with its widespread distribution and demand of meat. Further, rescue reports of threatened species, like that of a Keeled Box turtle from a house in Arunachal Pradesh, also show the covert threats affecting TFTs. This data has yielded useful insights, and can potentially enhance our understanding of critical turtle habitats and threats. Last year, the indianturtles.in website was launched to increase KURMA’s reach, where enthusiasts will also be able to share experiences. For best conservation impact, maximum people must join this movement and share their records. Also, a consistent source of funding is requisite to sustain the slowly, steadily growing network of KURMA.|
|Vijay Barve||DiversityIndia: Observing India’s biodiversity for 20 years|
Vijay Barve, Amol Patwardhan, Arjan Basu Roy
|In October of 2001, an idea of initiating a cyber community of butterfly lovers took shape. During that period free email services like Hotmail, Yahoo were booming and offered email ids to those who had internet access. Within a month 100 butterfly lovers were connected and chatter about butterflies took over, even though our initial estimation was about a quarter of that. Along with enthusiasts, butterfly researchers came aboard to become a vibrant community , thus bridging the gap between butterfly enthusiasts and researchers. A lot of rewarding discussions and sharing was the driving force. The community started initiating collaborations, requests to contribute to projects became a common feature. By this time all the authors of field guides of India butterflies were members of the group and the community was acknowledged in subsequent publications. In person gatherings termed as ButterflyIndia Meets started taking place in different parts of India. Success of this group and the need for learning about other taxa resulted into a full suite of communities around taxonomic groups like Moths, Dragonflies, Spiders, Insects, other Invertebrates, Reptiles, Amphibians and so on. With the advent of social networking sites such as Orkut and Facebook, DiversityIndia communities established a presence on newer platforms. Today these communities enjoy more than 50 thousand combined membership. We present the achievements, strategies and future plans of DiversityIndia.|
|Arjun Kamdar||The complex of cryptic species complexes: adapting to a changing landscape in citizen science|
Ashish Jangid, Krushnamegh Kunte
|Citizen science initiatives generally have two broad objectives: (1) collecting data across space and time to answer ecological questions, (2) improve accessibility and inclusivity of science, simultaneously using it as a tool for nature education. With advancements in taxonomic studies, there is an increase in the number of cryptic herpetofauna species being described. Several of these cryptic species are sympatric and cannot be identified without capturing the specimen to study its features. This throws up a novel challenge for citizen science initiatives which have so far relied on identifying the species as a taxon unit. This increase in cryptic species disallows ‘species’ from being the taxon unit as participants may end up collecting incorrect data or not collect data at all. This necessitates a rethink on herpetofauna-oriented citizen science. We are considering the following two suggestions: (a) using ‘morphotypes’ as the units of identification, though this comes with its set of challenges such as defining the morphotypes, (b) shifting the focus from the densities/diversity of species to natural history observations. These could be in the form of morphological data (colour, size etc), and behavior. In this manner, citizen science could continue to be a powerful tool for engaging the public in ecological education and can contribute to wildlife science. These two suggestions are in addition to accurate identification of species when possible. At this conference, we seek further feedback and wish to undertake discussions with a larger community to plan the path forward.|
|Swaroop Nayak||AI-based Owl Call Recognition: A Pilot Project|
Shridevi Karande, Pankaj Koparde
|For species such as owls and nightjars that are nocturnal, their identification is based on calls. It might be difficult for layman or beginners to quickly adapt to owl identification purely based on calls. To overcome this problem, we devised a AI-based owl call recognition algorithm that facilitates easy identification of owls and helps spread awareness to the public about the different species of owls which can be found in the Indian sub-continent. In India, the domain of AI-based call recognition is still in infancy and therefore the present project is a pilot project. We collected audio data of 17 owl species from xeno-canto website. The audio data was converted from mp4 to png format. We performed data cleaning and processing in order to uphold the quality of data and for minimum loss of information. Further, the processed data was fed to a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN). The CNN was trained using Transfer Learning process. In the end, the best result was obtained by an InceptionV3 model with a validation accuracy of 77.2%. The scope of this project is massive and many more useful features can be added. Some of them can be detecting multiple species in a single audio file, addition of more species from different genus and betterment of feature extraction process. Though it’s a pilot project, it has potential to aid citizen science in India many-folds.|