Our researchers and students work on an inter-disciplinary line but concentrate on four major themes of Biodiversity Conservation, Climate Change, Human Ecology and Environmental Governance by undertaking field, laboratory and modeling studies. Our location in peninsular India means that much of CRGCS’ research is focused on the impacts of global change on the climate, biota and ecosystems of the Western Ghats Biodiversity Hotspot.

Research Clusters

Biodiversity Conservation

Terrestrial Ecology
Group Leaders: Anitha K and Joyce Joseph
The Terrestrial Ecology group is interested in population assessments and behavioural ecology of large mammals, floristic characterization, and carbon assimilation capacity of plant communities, diversity and taxonomy of lizards and snakes in Myristica swamps and Shola forests. Previous work has focused on characterization and population dynamics of vegetation communities in human altered landscapes.

Human Animal Conflicts
Group Leader: Rohit Singh
The group is mainly interested in understanding the patterns of human-animal conflicts and developing effective co-management strategies. Current research focus is on Elephants, Sloth Bears (Kerala region of Western Ghats) and Brown Bear (Western Himalayas).

Aquatic Ecology and Conservation
Group Leaders: Benno Pereira, Anvar Ali and K. Krishnakumar

Researchers of the Aquatic Ecology and Conservation group works on freshwater (streams of the Western Ghats), brackishwater (Vembanad Lake) and marine (Arabian Sea) ecosystems addressing the issues in distribution, ecology and conservation of fin-fishes. Additional areas of research are conservation aquaculture, reef fisheries, coral reef ecology and marine invertebrates. Most recently, the group has started to work on invasive alien species (IAS) and their impacts on native fish species in Kerala.

Systematic Conservation Planning
Group Leader: Shijo Joseph
Systematic Conservation Planning group is the most recent of the nine research groups to be established in CRGCS. This group is interested in identifying priority areas for conservation in freshwaters using the principles of systematic conservation planning.

GIS and Remote Sensing
Group Leader: Shijo Joseph
The group has state of art knowledge in applying geospatial tools in natural resources management. The major thrust areas involve Ecosystem Dynamics, Hyperspectral Remote Sensing, field spectroscopy, atmospheric correction, radiosity modelling, Species distribution modelling and Predictive land cover modeling, and spatial multi-criteria decision analysis. More

Evolutionary Genetics and Biogeography
Group Leaders: Siby Philip and Anvar Ali
The Evolutionary genetics and Biogeography group at CRGCS is primarily interested in understanding organismal evolution of aquatic and terrestrial taxa in the Western Ghats Hotspot. Current research focus is on freshwater fishes. Researchers in the group are currently collating baseline information on phylogeography of freshwater fishes. Apart from throwing light on the biogeographic history of the Western Ghats, research at this group will help solve some long standing taxonomic problems. The research is hence interdisciplinary and members work with the ecology, GIS and conservation planning groups at the center. The ultimate aim of the group’s research is to provide baseline information that will help comprehend the biology of various groups of organisms in the Western Ghats and facilitate improved conservation.

Climate Change

Climate Change Simulation
Group Leader: Shijo Joseph
The group is interested in understanding the physical basis of climate change, impacts of climate change on ecosystems and human welfare, and adaptive management strategies to be evolved in response to climate change impacts. The thrust area involves carbon, water and energy fluxes and its modelling, Dynamic Global Vegetation Modelling, Earth Observation Science Algorithms, Calibration and Validation of EO Data, and Sensitivity, uncertainty and error propagation in climate models. More

Human Ecology

Natural Resource Management and Livelihoods
Group Leader: Rajeev Raghavan
The group is interested in understanding the interactions between natural resource use, conservation and livelihoods. Major focus is on the exploitation of threatened food and ornamental fishes and their impacts on conservation and fisher livelihoods. More

Environmental Governance

Environmental Governance, Law and Policy
Group Leader: Lavanchawee Sujarittanonta
The group is interested in development of policies relevant to environmental conservation and natural resource management. Current focus is on issues related to biopiracy and trade in threatened species from the Western Ghats.

Current Projects

  • Mahseer’s as flagships for freshwater fish conservation in Western Ghats: participatory assessment of stock status and harvest levels in Chalakudy and Periyar River(s) of Kerala, India – Rufford Foundation
  • Status of freshwater fishes in the Kerala region of the Western Ghats Hotspot: determining distribution, populations and threats to newly described and poorly known species – Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) Western Ghats Program
  • Conservation of endemic and threatened freshwater ornamental fishes in the Kerala part of Western Ghats hotspot (South India) through research and local participation – Columbus Zoo
  • Conservation and management of freshwater ornamental fishes in the Kerala part of Western Ghats Hotspot (South India): eco-biological and socio-economic study – North of England Zoological Society and Chester Zoo
  • Assessing the current status of the endangered Cochin forest cane turtle, Vijayachelys silvatica in Athirapally forests of Western Ghats (India) as a basis for developing a community based monitoring and conservation program – Chelonian Research Foundation
  • Conservation and management of Puntius denisonii – an endemic and threatened cyprinid of the Western Ghats – PADI Foundation
  • Freshwater Biodiversity Conservation in the Southern Western Ghats: documenting traditional knowledge on endemic and threatened freshwater fishes – Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment (ATREE)
  • Small dense fishes and its role in aquaculture – University Grants Commission

Collaborative Projects

  • Investigation on the live bird trade in Uttar Pradesh, India – (with Pehal Society, Aligarh) – Oriental Bird Club

  • Freshwater Biodiversity Assessments in the Western Ghats (with the International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN) - Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) Western Ghats Program


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