Animal Movement

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Maria Thaker (Centre for Ecological Sciences)
Dr. Abi T.Vanak (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment )
Dr. Bibhuti Lahkar (Aaranyak)
Dr. Bilal Habib (Wildlife Institute of India)
Dr. Parag Nigam (Wildlife Institute of India)
Dr. Soumya Prasad (Nature Science Initiative)
Dr. Suresh Kumar (Wildlife Institute of India)
Dr. Raghunandan Chundawat (BAAVAN)
Dr. Raman Sukumar (Centre for Ecological Sciences)

Besides diversity, distribution and demography of key faunal groups, behavioural processes, such animal use of the landscape, are expected to be highly sensitive to climate change. In fact, changes in habitat use and movement strategies are likely to be the first detectable shifts in animal responses to climate-related changes in the environment. For instance, elephants are known to disperse widely and come into conflict with people and agriculture during years of drought. Thus, an understanding of how willing species are to traverse or even utilize potentially inhospitable and risky habitats is critical to understanding coexistence and survival stretegies. The LTEO will employ advances in the field of movement ecology to understand how animals are utilizing the fragmentated and changing human-dominated matrix. 

The field of movement ecology has seen considerable advances in the last five years. The analysis of movement data has thus moved on from simple descriptions of home-range and habitat use to more complex ecological parameter-driven models of canonical movement modes. Different environmental factors and scales may influence the movement of individuals within a landscape, and therefore animal-landscape relationships will be examined across a range of scales. The study of movement ecology of key taxanomic groups using GPS technology will be targetted at the LTEO sites. Medium-sized carnivores, typically occupying the meso-predator guild, are key determinants of diversity and population sizes of lower trophic level organisms such as small mammals, birds, herpetofauna etc. The primary knowledge for many meso-predators is lacking in India and thus telemetry studies with key species will be carried out at all LTEO sites. Additional taxa such as elephants and other large herbivores that are keystone species will also be studied with this approach.