T R Shankar Raman

Scientist, Western Ghats

Trsr field dscn1934

I like to imagine that I am a writer turned wildlife scientist turned writer, living in a landscape of rainforests and plantations in the Anamalai hills of southern India. As a wildlife scientist, I focus on the ecology and conservation of tropical forests and wildlife—especially rainforest plants, birds, and mammals—mainly in the Western Ghats. In parallel, I write creative non-fiction and essays on nature and conservation for newspapers, magazines, and blogs, besides occasional book reviews and op-ed or feature articles. I like to read a fair bit and you can see what I am reading here. My blogView from Elephant Hills is on the Coyotes Network. 

As a participant in an open initiative called WikiProject Nature and Conservation in India, I have also been contributing media (my images, video and audio recordings) to Wikimedia Commons and editing Wikipedia pages related to nature and conservation in India. Here is my Wikipedia user page, and you can find my Wikimedia Commons photo gallery here (works in progress).

I am also interested in animal welfare and ethics, empathy and aesthetics in humans and other animals, music and poetry, public reasoning, openness in anything from software to knowledge, and human capability and freedom and flourishing, but have done precious little about any of this except for strapping on headphones and tuning out.

Projects

Varattuparai 201

Completed

Fostering eco-friendly plantations

Linking sustainable agriculture and conservation in plantation landscapes

Gh in flight

Hornbill hotspots

Hornbill distribution and conservation threats

Cdy00008

Completed

Living with leopards

Carnivore, conflicts, and conservation in the Anamalai hills

Cover

Nurturing nature appreciation

Rekindling conservation awareness and connections with nature

Tea1

Of forests and farms

Conserving wildlife in forests and plantations in the landscape

Gopr0731

Completed

Otters in troubled waters?

Otters in the Kaveri - sharing space with riverine fisheries and sand mining

Elephant 1

Reviving the rainforest

Ecological restoration of degraded rainforest in the Anamalai hills

Ltm kalyan 1020

Completed

Towards wildlife-friendly roads

Studying and reducing impacts of roads on wildlife in the Anamalai hills

Figure2

Completed

Whittled-down woods

Plant communities and invasive species in forest fragments

Aerial jhum landscape

Wildlife and shifting cultivation

Forest, wildlife, jhum, and plantations in the Dampa landscape, Mizoram

Ltm with infant

Wildlife in rainforest fragments

Life in the treetops and undergrowth in rainforest remnants

Publications

  • Book
    2018
    Pillars of Life: Magnificent Trees of the Western Ghats
    Divya Mudappa, T R Shankar Raman, Nirupa Rao, Sartaj Ghuman
    Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore.

    For millions of years, the forests of the Western Ghats mountains have been home to a host of extraordinary trees. These range from the peculiar conifer, Nageia, whose family origins can be traced back to the age of the dinosaurs, to the grand trees in the rudraksh family, to the jack and fig trees that occupy a familiar presence in India’s forests and countryside. This book showcases thirty remarkable tree species through beautiful illustrations and artwork. It conveys the wonder arising from the beauty, the diversity, the individuality, and magnificence of trees in the Western Ghats, and evokes a greater sensitivity to the diverse values and enrichment that trees bring to our lives.

    Foreword by Pradip Krishen
    Botanical Illustrations
    by Nirupa Rao
    Sketches
    by Sartaj Ghuman

    Available here: https://www.instamojo.com/NCF/pillars-of-life/

  • Journal Article
    2018
    Breeding biology of Great Hornbill Buceros bicornis in tropical rainforest and human-modified plantation landscape in Western Ghats, India
    Ornithological Science, 17:205-216
    Download

    PDF, 356 KB

    Loss of mature tropical forests to agricultural expansion often creates landscapes with forest fragments embedded within a matrix of human-modified habitats and land uses. Such habitat fragmentation may be detrimental to species with specialized habitat and foraging requirements and their ability to persist in such landscapes may depend on their adaptability to habitat modification. Great Hornbills Buceros bicornis, among the largest birds in Asian tropical rainforests, depend on large trees for nesting and a diverse array of patchily distributed fruiting trees. In the human-modified landscape of the Anamalai Hills, India, we compared the breeding biology and nesting behaviour of Great Hornbills in contiguous rainforest (N=3 nests) and in modified habitat consisting of coffee plantations and rainforest fragments (N=5 nests). The nesting cycle of seven of the eight nests monitored varied between 114 and 130 days. Nest provisioning behaviour was similar in contiguous forest and modified habitat in terms of visitation and food delivery rates, but visitation tended to be higher and food delivery rate lower during the nestling phase than during incubation. As expected, tree density and native food plant diversity were lower in modified habitat than in continuous forest. The diversity of food provisioned was lower in modified habitat with a 57.5% dietary overlap with contiguous forest. Hornbills in the modified habitat of coffee plantations used non-native tree species for nesting and foraging, indicating their adaptability to modified landscapes.

  • Report
    2018
    Population assessment of the Nilgiri tahr (Nilgiritragus hylocrius) using the Double-observer Survey method in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve
    Technical Report, Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore, India
    Download

    PDF, 4.59 MB

  • Journal Article
    2018
    Seasonal variation in wildlife roadkills in plantations and tropical rainforest in the Anamalai Hills, Western Ghats, India
    Current Science. 114(3): 619-626.
    Download

    PDF, 1.42 MB

  • Book Chapter
    2017
    Birds in Relation to Farming and Livestock Grazing in the Indian Trans-Himalayas
    In Bird Migration across the Himalayas: Wetland Functioning amidst Mountains and Glaciers
    Download

    PDF, 194 KB

  • Journal Article
    2017
    Successional status, seed dispersal mode and overstorey species influence tree regeneration in tropical rain-forest fragments in Western Ghats, India
    Anand M Osuri, Dayani Chakravarthy, Divya Mudappa, T R Shankar Raman, N Ayyappan, S Muthuramkumar, N Parthasarathy
    Journal of Tropical Ecology 33: 270-284. DOI: 10.1017/S0266467417000219

    The effects of fragmentation and overstorey tree diversity on tree regeneration were assessed in tropical rain forests of the Western Ghats, India. Ninety plots were sampled for saplings (1–5 cm diameter at breast height (dbh); 5×5-m plots) and overstorey trees (>9.55 cm dbh; 20×20-m plots) within two fragments (32 ha and 18 ha) and two continuous forests. We tested the hypotheses that fragmentation and expected seed-dispersal declines (1) reduce sapling densities and species richness of all species and old-growth species, and increase recruitment of early-successional species, (2) reduce the prevalence of dispersed recruits and (3) increase influence of local overstorey on sapling densities and richness. Continuous forests and fragments had similar sapling densities and species richness overall, but density and richness of old-growth species declined by 62% and 48%, respectively, in fragments. Fragments had 39% lower densities and 24% lower richness of immigrant saplings (presumed dispersed into sites as conspecific adults were absent nearby), and immigrant densities of old-growth bird-dispersed species declined by 79%. Sapling species richness (overall and old-growth) increased with overstorey species richness in fragments, but was unrelated to overstorey richness in continuous forests. Our results show that while forest fragments retain significant sapling diversity, losses of immigrant recruits and increased overstorey influence strengthen barriers to natural regeneration of old-growth tropical rain forests.

  • Journal Article
    2017
    Conflict to coexistence: Human – leopard interactions in a plantation landscape in Anamalai Hills, India
    Conservation and Society 15(4): 474-482.
    Download

    PDF, 1.18 MB

    When leopards are found in human-dominated landscapes, conflicts may arise due to attacks on people or livestock loss or when people retaliate following real and perceived threats. In the plantation landscape of the Valparai plateau, we studied incidents of injury and loss of life of people and livestock over time (15 – 25 y) and carried out questionnaire surveys in 29 plantation colonies and eight tribal villages to study correlates of livestock depredation, people's perception of leopards, and preferred management options for human – leopard interactions. Leopards were implicated in an average of 1.3 (± 0.4 SE) incidents/year (1990 – 2014) involving humans and 3.6 (± 0.8 SE) incidents/year (1999 – 2014) involving livestock, with no statistically significant increasing trend over time. Most incidents of injury or loss of life involved young children or unattended livestock, and occurred between afternoon and night. At the colony level, livestock depredation was positively related to the number of livestock, but decreased with the distance from protected area and number of residents. Half the respondents reported seeing a leopard in a neutral situation, under conditions that resulted in no harm. All tribal and 52% of estate respondents had neutral perceptions of leopards and most (81.9%, n = 161 respondents) indicated changing their own behaviour as a preferred option to manage negative interactions with leopards, rather than capture or removal of leopards. Perception was unrelated to livestock depredation, but tended to be more negative when human attacks had occurred in a colony. A combination of measures including safety precautions for adults and children at night, better livestock herding and cattle-sheds, and building on people's neutral perception and tolerance can mitigate negative interactions and support continued human – leopard coexistence.

  • Dataset
    2017
    Data from: Successional status, seed dispersal mode and overstorey species influence tree regeneration in tropical rain-forest fragments in Western Ghats, India
    Anand M Osuri, Dayani Chakravarthy, Divya Mudappa, T R Shankar Raman, N. Ayyappan, S. Muthuramkumar, N. Parthasarathy
    Dryad Digital Repository. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.vd0nn.2

    Dataset available from the Dryad Digital Repository:
    https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.vd0nn.2

    Original Publication
    Osuri AM, Chakravarthy D, Mudappa D, Raman TRS, Ayyappan N, Muthuramkumar S, Parthasarathy N (2017) Successional status, seed dispersal mode and overstorey species influence tree regeneration in tropical rain-forest fragments in Western Ghats, India. Journal of Tropical Ecology 33(4): 270-284. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0266467417000219

  • Popular Article
    2016
    Is oil palm expansion good for Mizoram?
    The Frontier Despatch, March 18 – 24, 2016, pages 6-7.
    Download

    PNG, 682 KB

  • Popular Article
    2016
    Why Mizoram must revive, not eradicate, jhum
    The Frontier Despatch, March 4 – 10, 2016, page 6.
    Download

    JPG, 755 KB

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