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Centre for Ecological Sciences

Coupled Human And Natural Ecosystems Of The Indian Mountains “

Mountains know the secrets we need to learn. That it might take time, it might be hard, but if you just hold on long enough, you will find the strength to rise up.” - Tyler Knott Gregson

In the land of rivers, valleys, deserts, plains and plateaus, India is also blessed with the tallest and the most gallant mountains of the world. Fresh air, scenic landscapes, breathtaking sunset, and not to forget the adrenaline rush of adventurous trekking - these mountains have so much to offer and are among the top tourist places in India.

Scientists identify decreasing green cover in Palamu

Palamu district in Jharkhand is located in the geographically disadvantageous rain shadow region and is prone to severe droughts. It is home to the Palamau Tiger Reserve and the Betla National Park. In spite of Palamau being declared as a ecologically fragile zone, the loss of forest cover found to be alarming.Forest Survey of India (FSI) has estimated a loss of 333 km2 of Forest area in Palamu. To put this loss into perspective, the Taj Mahal stands in a sprawling campus of an area around 170 km2 and Palamu lost an area equivalent to two of these campuses in 11 years.

Bio-cementing termites: how soil is engineered into a strong fortress

“There is only one nature – the division into science and engineering is a human imposition, not a natural one” said Bill Wulf, an engineer. Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore, have recently explained how a group of fungus-growing termites “bioengineer” the soil with their secretions and construct stable mounds. This process is termed “bio-cementation”, where termites alter soil properties to build strong mounds.

Scientists study Commute CO2 Emissions in Bangalore and Xi’an

Car availability and household location majorly contribute to commute carbon dioxide emissions in developing countries, as per the latest study. An international team of researchers from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, the University of Melbourne, Australia and Chang’an University, China, were a part of this study conducted in Bangalore, India and Xi'an, China. The two cities are currently undergoing rapid economic growth, urbanization, and motorization. The study aimed to analyze the characteristics and changing trends of the commute CO2 emissions and identify strategies for reducing emissions and mitigating climate change.

How blackbucks have been surviving in a mosaic of modified landscape

Ask any person from a big city and they will tell you how house hunting is one of the biggest banes around! Now if you thought that was difficult, try and surmise the perils of house hunting that fall upon an animal. Animals have to search for a habitat with good nutritious food resources while evading dangerous predators and other risks. With the added dimension of seasonally changing resources and risk, animals have their task cut out to decide which habitat they should use at a given point of time. Apart from that, there are added conflicts brought in by conversion of natural landscapes for urbanisation and development. In the face of so many dynamic factors, finding livable habitat becomes a challenge. For animals, like urban house hunters, finding a place to live is no child’s play.

Urban Growth Pattern in Chennai

The urban area of Chennai has increased from 1.46 to 18.55% in two decades (1991 – 2012), according to a new study published by the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Dr. T. V. Ramachandra and Dr. Bharath H. Aithal from the Centre for Ecological Sciences have studied the urban growth patterns in ten major Indian cities, one of which is Chennai. Their study also found that the vegetation cover has reduced by 22% during this period.

Fatal Attraction: A case of deceit by female figs

The fig-wasp is a tiny insect that lays its eggs in figs, which bear ever tinier flowers within them. As the female wasp lays eggs, it also deposits on the flowers pollen from the figs in which it was born. Figs act as bassinets for the new eggs, allowing them to hatch and develop into adults. The adults mate within the fig, before the female wasp takes off for another fig to lay eggs in, with help from the blind and wingless males which cut an exit opening for the females. The males are left behind in the fig to die a quiet death. Thus wasps help figs by pollinating their flowers, while figs provide wasps with mating and hatching grounds. This give-and-take relationship, a kind of ‘mutualism’, has remained intact for over 80 million years. This scenario is the norm for half the fig species in the world which are bisexual and have male and female flowers in the same fig.

Ecologists discover a new plant species in the Western Ghats

The biodiversity hotspot of the Western Ghats has added a new feather to its cap with the discovery of a new plant species. This plant species belongs to the custard apple family, scientifically called Annonaceae. Navendu Page, a PhD student at the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and his associate Ashish Nerlekar made this discovery while on a trek!