Herpertofauna

Principal Investigator:
Dr. Kartik Shanker (Centre for Ecological Sciences)
Co-Investigators:
Dr. Abhijit Das (Wildlife Institute of India)
Dr. M. Firoz Ahmed (Aaranyak)
Dr. Maria Thaker (Centre for Ecological Sciences)
Dr. Pratyush P.Mohapatra (Zoological Survey of India)
Dr. S. P. Vijayakumar (Centre for Ecological Sciences)
Dr. Shomen Mukherjee (Azim Premji University)
Dr. Sushil Kumar Dutta (Retired)
Dr. Varad Giri (National Centre for Biological Sciences)

Climate change, pollution and disease have ravaged amphibian populations in many parts of the world. Disease due to a fungal pathogen has caused widespread decline and extinction of amphibian populations across the globe especially in the neotropics. Recent research has identified high risk areas for the spread of this pathogen which includes biodiversity hotspots like Western Ghats in the Indian subcontinent, an area of high local endemism with most species restricted to a single hill range and narrow elevational bands.

Amphibians can serve as early warning systems for environmental changes due to global and local drivers such as climate change and pollution. The more abundant species of amphibians and reptiles can be monitored across time and space to provide an index of change. Visual searches and acoustic searches can be employed to record the presence and absence of select frog species during the breeding season. In addition, distributions and occurrence of rare species will be monitored over time. Some species are restricted to the canopy and mostly identified by their calls; these species can serve as indicators of canopy health. Recent studies have revealed that amphibians in streams in the Western Ghats (as elsewhere in the world) have morphological abnormalities, which can be recorded. While the underlying stressors which lead to the abnormalities are not yet known, it is possible that the presence/proportion of abnormalities could be used as an index of environmental/anthropogenic stress.