Student Projects

Masters Dissertations – 2019

Project title: Study of Heavy Metals from Sperata seenghala & Clarias magur Fish from Pune District (Maharashtra), India
Name of the student: Shubham Singh


From several decades environmental pollution is considered as a major global problem for both animals and humans. The industrial effluents are the major source of pollution that is discharged into the water bodies posing serious threats to the aquatic animals like fishes. If the concentration of the heavy metal is not in permissible limit as per World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines then these heavy metal accumulate in fishes and may cause serious human health hazard. This study was carried out to assess the concentrations of various heavy metals from the fish tissues of Sperata seenghala and Clarius magur i.e; bones, muscles and liver. The aim of this study was the investigation of fish tissues contamination with heavy metals. Samples were taken from the Bhor and Pune fish market. Samples of tissues were analysed for the concentration six heavy metals (zinc, mercury, cadmium, iron, nickel, and lead) using Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-AES). Iron and Zinc were most abundant in all fish tissues. The level of in conclusion, it is evident that even though the heavy metals concentration in fish tissues of bhor and pune region did not exceed the safe limit, the continuous consumption of large quantities of fishes can lead to metal toxicity.

Project title: Investigation of quantity & quality of floral nectar
Name of the student: Vivek Pawar


Almost all flowering plants produce nectar and quantity of the nectar production varies as per the species of the plant. Higher the quantity of the nectar higher is the number of floral visitors attracted towards the flowers. Nectar is food and energy source of the floral visitor. Floral nectar is widely known as the key reward offered by animal-pollinated plants to their pollen vectors. These flower visitors primarily include butterflies, beetles, ants etc. In case of butterflies, number of studies has shown that apart from the nectar quantity, nectar composition, flower colour and corolla tube length has significant impact on the number as well as types of butterfly visitors a flower would get. Amboli was selected as study area. Amboli region is situated at Sawantwadi tehsil in the Sindudurg District of Maharashtra, India. It is 350 km away from Pune city. Amboli is located near Ajara-Sawantwadi road and is rich in flora and fauna. During study period nectar quantity was assessed in 22 species of flowers. The quantity was found in the range of 0.29 μL /flower to 12.01 μL. The variation can be attributed to multiple factors such as type of species and flower size. In case of bagging and without bagging species, without bagging species shows variety in their amount of nectar secretion or production. To check the floral nectar composition, sugar composition was studied using FTIR. It is not a quantitative technique but it shows qualitative variations. Nectars from 14 species were analysed. Variation in carbohydrates quantity was seen. In all the floral nectar composition sucrose, glucose and fructose sugars are present but its concentration varies. Nectar collection time, floral origin, geographic location, possible environmental pollution, temperature and humidity may affect the nectar composition and concentration. For proboscis length and corolla tube measurement we measured proboscis length of 80 individuals in 10 different butterfly species as well as corolla tube length of 6 plant species to find out possible correlation between proboscis length and corolla tube measurement . In this study it was observed that there is no correlation between corolla tube and proboscis length, it was verified using Bartlett followed by ANOVA. Similarly in other case to understand the correlation between flower colour and their visitors we recorded the flower colour of 15 plant species and their visitors. It was observed that there was no correlation between floral visitors and flower colour, using Bartlett followed by ANOVA.

Project Title: Seed size in relation to seed moisture content and germination success
Name of the student: Alap Bhatt


The Spermatophytes are endowed with this peculiar but very common detachable vehicle of reproduction carrying the germ of a new individual which is known as the Seed. It is product of sexual reproduction that consists of endosperm, embryo and seed coat. Seed is responsible for species establishment and growth form. It is important to study on ecological role of seed in forest habitat. 16 woody plant species studied to understand seed size relation with germination success, canopy effect on germination and soil fertility association with seed germination. Present study was carried out at Amboli forest, Northern Western Ghats, Maharashtra. Out of 16 species 2 species are endemic to Western Ghats and 2 species are listed in IUCN red list. In these studies we observed strong correlation between seed size and canopy percent in germination success. Hypothesis tested was large seeded species have less germination success in open area. It is true in our studies, Mann Whitney test (100<75) we accept the hypothesis. In other hypothesis large seeded species associate with low soil fertility. We observed higher concentration of N, P, K and OC in canopy site compare to open site. As we found large seeded species have less germination success in open area, we can reject the second hypothesis. In against us observed small seeded species associated with low soil fertility. We found weak relation (r2 = 0.1562) between seed moisture content and germination success.

Project Title: Effects of environmental and geographical correlates on species assemblages of threatened and endemic anuran genera of Western Ghats
Name of the student: Anusua Pal


THE WESTERN GHATS of the India harbour unique assemblages of ancient endemic animal and plant taxa, by the virtue of geological and climatic changes that happened for around 65 my. The rich geological history of this region has shaped characteristic geography of this region which in turn has affected the evolution of various organisms. Specifically, the geographical discontinuities in the Western Ghats such as the Shencottah Gap, Palghat Gap and Goa gap have affected the dispersal and vicariance in Anurans. This has affected the species compositions and community structure of amphibians in the regions around these gaps.

The species composition is further affected by current environmental conditions which are also reflected in species composition. Physical conditions of an organism's environment like temperature, light, moisture and the food resources it contains primarily determine the distribution of the organism in both spatial and temporal scale. These environmental factors are unevenly distributed and hence cause uneven distribution of species.

Here, I attempt to find such effects of geographical distance, elevation and environmental variables such as annual precipitation and temperature range, on the species assemblages of three endemic genera of Western Ghats namely, Nyctibatrachus, Micrixalus and Indirana. Five major regions of the Western Ghats pertaining to their geological origins and/or geographical gaps between them were considered. The presence only data for the species of Nyctibatrachus, Micrixalus and Indirana was extracted from articles describing the species for the first time, defining the neotype based on the original description and/or studies relying on molecular identification for the confirmation of the species. The linear discriminant analysis (LDA) was performed to understand if the defined regions show any difference in their environmental structuring. The beta partition analysis was run in R to find out the process of species turnover shaping the species assemblages between regions. The zeta diversity analysis was implied to understand extent of zeta diversity decline, the effective distance for zeta diversity decline and effect of geographical distance, elevation and environmental variables on the structure of species assemblages.
The discriminant analysis resulted in largely overlapping clusters of regions with only distinct partitioning between the regions below and above the Nilgiri elevational regime. Although, the regions were largely homogenous, the species assemblages between the regions showed very low nestedness. Further, zeta decline analysis also showed the sharp trend of zeta diversity decline indicating the low nestedness. However, the zeta diversity decline was gradual for Indirana and sharpest for Nyctibatrachus indicating that the species sharing between sites for Indirana was more than two other genera. The high retention rate for Indirana also points towards the fact that the genus comprises of more generalist species than other two genera. However, none of the genera showed species retention beyond four sites. The multi-site generalised dissimilarity modelling showed geographical distance between the two (zeta order 2) sites as most effective factor for defining the species assemblages in these genera. For the genus Indirana; elevation, temperature annual range, and precipitation of coldest quarter were also effective factors for determining species assemblages between sites. For the genus Micrixalus annual precipitation was shown to be additional factor defining species assemblages. While, for the genus Nyctibatrachus annual temperature range, annual precipitation and precipitation of coldest quarter were additionally shown to be effective. The species assemblage structure between 3 sites was shown to be affected by Human Influence Index in Indirana. The results of these analyses effectively show that these genera have high composition of rare species. The species assemblages of one site are seldom repeated up to 4 sites indicating the site specificity of the species of these genera. The nestedness being very low and extending only between two to three sites makes it crucial to conserve the natural habitats which are in close vicinity, otherwise threatening the rare species composition. In the era where human activities are threatening the natural habitats and changing the local and global climate and or/weather (the Anthropocene) the studies like the one presented here become pertinent.

Project Title: Investigating the Spatiotemporal Variation of Chemical Signals in Musa Plants
Name of the student: Aparna Sakpal


Banana (Musa sp.) ranks fourth in terms of worldwide fruit production, and has high economical and nutritional value. Amongst the factors that contribute to the lower productivity in banana crops, abiotic stress factors like scarcity of water, soil salinity and extreme temperatures are the most significant. Hence, the present study attempts to understand the effects of variations in the environmental factors on the Musa phytochemical concentrations, compounds which are known as stress indicators in plants. To understand if there was any variation in the chemical signals, plants were planted in polyhouse and field of Fursungi. The morphological, physiological and biochemical estimations were studied in Musa acuminata (Grand Nain) variety leaves through its vegetative developmental stage. We have quantitatively estimated the amounts of antioxidants, proline, and total phenols in banana and correlated it with the abiotic factors, along with the amounts of total chlorophylls; to understand the variations in their concentrations on the basis of the leaf loci on the pseudostem, developmental stage and their growth conditions. We found significant variations in the stress related phytochemical concentrations at different leaf positions on the same individual, indicating the variations in the effects of abiotic factors on different plant parts and their response with respect to their age.

Project Title: Effect of salt Stress along with hormones and Acinetobacter on different varieties of Chickpea (Cicer arietinum L.)
Name of the student: Ashwini Bhande


A laboratory experiment was conducted at botany department, Savitribai Phule Pune university, pune, to evaluate the effect of different concentrations of salt, hormones and acinetobacter on two Chickpea cultivars viz; (Phule-G-9425-9 and Phule-G-9425-5), which were obtained from Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri, Ahmednagar. Sodium Chloride used as a source of graded levels of salinity. Naphthalene acetic acid (NAA) and Indole butyric acid (IBA) was used as a plant growth hormones and Acinetobacter tandoii spp. was used as a bacterial culture. The salinity levels imposed were- Control 4dS/m-1, 6dS/m-1, 8dS/m-1, 10dS/m-1, 12dS/m-1 and 14dS/m-1 EC were tested using Conductivity meter. The different concentrations of growth hormones were prepared in serially diluted between the range of 10-1 and 10-5. Bacterial culture (Acinetobacter spp.) suspension was incubated for 3 days and different concentrations were prepared using method of serial dilution.

The study showed that germination percentage and seed vigor index significantly decreased with increase in salt concentration. Phule-G-9425-9 showed better performance than Phule-G-9425-5 in terms of germination percentage and seed vigor index. Also in biochemical test, Catalase and Superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme activity were increased with increase in salt concentration. The chlorophyll content of both chickpea cultivars were decreased with increase in salt concentration, protein content were decreased and proline content were increased with increase in salt concentration.
As compared with growth hormones and Acinetobacter, Acinetobacter spp. showed better results than growth hormones. Also compared with growth hormones Naphthalene acetic acid (NAA) 10-5 showed good results than Indole butyric acid (IAA)10-4.

Project Title: Isolation, Characterization and Identification of Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR) and their Effect on Seed Germination
Name of the student: Kartiki Kane


Soil is rich in microflora which includes Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR). PGPR are those bacteria that colonize the rhizosphere soil. Plant-microbe interactions are required in order to maintain good plant health. This project mainly focuses on the role of PGPR in enhancing the germination process of seeds. Here, we have isolated PGPR from invasive plant species like Lantana camara and Parthenium spp. These two species were chosen due to their high tolerance levels towards abiotic stress (Stefania Toscano et al. 2019). The isolates have been identified as Bacillus cereus, Bacillus licheniformis and Azotobacter spp. They were further characterized for their plant growth promoting traits which included tests like Indole-3-Acetic acid (IAA), Phosphate solubilisation, Nitrogen fixation and Starch hydrolysis. A consortium of these bacteria was made and tested on crop seeds which included Fenugreek, Pea and Moth bean. Trials showed the effect of PGPR consortium on these seeds. Different proportions of this consortium with a fixed absorbance of 1 were tested on the seeds. Each set consisted of control (10 seeds) and 9 test sets (10 seeds) treated with different proportions of PGPR consortium. The consortium proportions are as follows: (Bacillus cereus: Bacillus licheniformis: Azotobacter spp.) 1:1:1, 1:0.5:0.5, 1:0.25:0.25, 0.5:1:0.5, 0.5:0.5:0.25, 0.5:0.25:1, 0.25:1:0.25, 0.25:0.5:1, 0.25:0.25:0.5. Consortium in the proportion 1:1:1 (Bacillus cereus: Bacillus licheniformis: Azotobacter spp.) was found to be most effective on seed germination and seedling health. Therefore, these PGPRs isolated from invasive weeds can be used as inoculants in agriculture in the form of bio fertilizers.

Project Title: Study on Roadkill of animal in Amboli region, Sindhudurg
Name of the student: Pradhumansinh Sindha


The diversity and abundance of the animals which are killed in animal-vehicle collision (roadkills) were studied along with the traffic load, in Amboli forest, Sindhudurg district; a popular tourist destination in Maharashtra. Systematic surveys to collect data on road kills and count of vehicles were conducted along four roads heading towards popular ‘tourist points’ of Amboli. Over 90 km of road surveys revealed 138 individuals of road kills belonging to 32 species. The road kills included animals from little Indian field mice to wild boar. Out of 138 road killed animals, reptiles represented 61%, amphibians 33%, mammals 7 %, birds 2 %. Endemism was also found to be high among the road killed animals. Of 32 species, 10 species were endemic to Western Ghats or India. I also tried to explore the relation among vehicle load and number of animals killed due to vehicle collision in pre-monsoon (55%) and monsoon (33%) season and in winter (12%) mortality of bird is observed. The relation of body size and road kill number shows less body size was associated with high no of road kill incidence. Setting speed limit, public awareness, putting up of informative boards, keeping an upper limit on the entry of vehicles in Amboli are among some of the mitigation measures to potentially reduce the road kill incidences and in turn conserve biological diversity.

Project Title: Diversity of Pseudoscorpions in western Maharashtra, northern Karnataka and Goa
Name of the student: Harshita Rana


Pseudoscorpions are a small group of Arachnids which belong to the Order Chelonethi. They are cosmopolitan and are distributed over a wide range of habitats, and are also known to occupy an important position as predators among the bark and litter fauna, feeding on a variety of insects. Despite their diversity of form and habitats, the Pseudoscorpion fauna of India is poorly known, in part because of lack of the taxonomic resources. This study aimed to study the diversity of Pseudoscorpions from Western Maharashtra, North Karnataka and Goa and provide the missing taxonomic aids for further studies on the Indian fauna of the group. An elaborative and illustrated morphology is thus provided, along with detailed descriptions of the taxonomically important characters. These descriptions are further used for development of a classification system for the pseudoscopions of the Indian fauna within the range of the selected study area, that is, Western Maharashtra, Northern Karnataka and Goa. The taxonomic key was developed by updating or modifying the existing key available, in the work done by Murthy and Ananthakrishnan 1977, which is the only available literature on the subject from the Indian Fauna. The pseudoscorpion fauna of the world includes 27 families, and that of India includes 12 families out of which 6 families are recorded and reported from the selected study areas, in the current study. It is believed that this study would stimulate further work on this important group of Arachnids, more so their phylogeny, biology or ecology.

Project title: Effect of Root Leachates and Bacterial Endophytes Isolated from Cassia tora and Chromolaena Odorata roots on Vigna Radiata Germination
Name of the student: Ishwari Latey


The Endophytic bacteria which colonize the internal root tissues are an important part of plant microbiota. They establish various relationships with the host, sans parasitism. The biodiversity of endophytic bacteria in weeds has been significantly studied in the light of plant growth promotion activity and their stress tolerant capability. However, behind the prolific spreading and successful survival of weeds in the environment, allelopathic mechanism is also involved. The major studies are done on allelopathic potential of fungi and their role in host plant’s successful survival and prolific breeding.

In this study, we aim to answer whether the endophytic bacteria play any role in allelochemical defence exhibited by host plant. We have studied the endophytes isolated from the roots of Cassia tora and Chromolaena odorata, two widespread exotic weeds in the Western Ghats.The selected bacteria were identified by standard procedures as Serratia marcescens subsp. Sakuensis, Serratia liquefaciens, Bacillus sp. and Staphylococcus sp. These bacteria were used for carrying out seed germination studies. The experiment was designed such as to check the seed germination ability in controlled variables (germination paper plate test) as well as natural, uncontrolled variables (pot test). The isolated microorganisms were screened on the basis of plant growth promoting and antagonistic hormones, Indole-3-acetic acid and Hydrogen cyanide, respectively. To study the effect of concentration of bacteria on seedling germination, the selected bacteria were applied on the test seeds in 10-1 to 10-5 dilutions and growth observation were recorded. Statistical analysis of the observations (with p<0.01) showed that the plant growth parameters are mostly bacterial concentration dependent with respect to the control, proving that the plant growth promoting role of isolated bacteria is associated with a particular bacterial concentration. Secondary metabolites of plants play an important role in growth other plants and microbes in the vicinity. The effect of secondary metabolites of Cassia tora and Chromolaena odorata was observed by applying root leachates of concentrations 5% ,10% and 15% on test seeds using germination paper plate test and the observations were recorded. The root leachates showed significant differences in growth with respect to the control. Thus in this study we have tried to enlighten the role of endophytic bacteria in plant’s defence mechanism, improving the understanding of plant.

Project title: Nesting Habitat Characterization of White Bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) in the Raigad District area
Name of the student: Manashree Bapat


White bellied sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) is an indicator species to measure biodiversity, general health of the ecosystem and is present at the highest level of coastal food chain. Considered to have a declining population, concern has been expressed in recent years over the conservation status of this eagle. To investigate current nesting distribution of the species in Raigad district, we conducted field survey method to collect regional data as it is important criteria to study its habitat selection. Data were obtained by surveying around 150 km of coastline. We found 22 nests of which 13 nests found in Shrivardhan tehsil and rest in Alibag, Murud tehsil. We collected data on their nesting parameters like tree preference, height from ground level, distance from seashore etc. We observed around 59% nests on Casuarina equistifolia, and rest on Sterculia foetida, Mangifera indica, Ficus bengalensis etc. Based on our observations and information by local birdwatchers, the number of indigenous trees like Sterculia foetida is decreasing, there has been a shift in preference for nesting habit from such indigenous trees to exotic species like Casuarina equistifolia. The coastal areas of Alibag, Murud, Shrivardhan tehsil are highly disturbed because of rapidly increasing tourism and urbanization. As per our observations and statistical analysis human disturbance is adversely affecting the nesting habitat of this eagle. So, we conclude that the white bellied sea eagle is under threat and there is need to study various aspects related to this species and its populations for its conservation.

Project title: Study of Gastropod Shell Preferences in Diogenes Chhapgari Trivedi, Osawa & Vachhrajani
Name of the student: Neeyati Limje


Diogenes chhapgari Trivedi, Osawa & Vachhrajani, 2016 is newly described species of hermit crab from coastal areas of Gulf of Khambhat, Gujarat and very little is known about its ecology. The present study is a first approach to study the ecological aspect of the species. Sampling for the collection of the species was carried out using hand picking method from October to December, 2018 in the mudflat habitat of Dandi, Gujarat and Mumbai, Maharashtra. The specimens were identified up to species level and categorized in three groups’ viz male, female and ovigerous female. The crab specimens were weighed and their size (shield length) was measured. The gastropod shells were identified using standard literature and keys and different morphological characters were measured. Total 1437 individuals of hermit crab were captured (1086 males, 243 females and 108 ovigerous females), occupying 13 different species of gastropod shells. Amongst all the shell species identified, Cantharus spiralis was highly occupied by the crab species followed by Semiricinula tissoti, Nassarius stolatus, Latirus nassoides, and Umbonium vestiarium. D. chhapgari males were significantly larger in size than the female and ovigerous females. Body size and weight of the hermit crab showed significant Correlation with different morphological characters of gastropod shell. Strong correlation was recorded between crab body size and shell dry weight which shows shell weight has significant impact on shell selection pattern of hermit crab.

Project Title: Exploration of Fecal Endoparasites in Herbivore Population in Saswad Area, Pune
Name of the student: Nikhila Purohit


Surveying and identifying internal parasites is important for maintaining overall health of the animal. Parasites can potentially affect the population growth of a species as well as interactions between species. Endoparasitic study plays a major role in population regulation. This study is conducted in Saswad-Waghapur Grassland, 40 Km away from Pune City. Present study aims to assess the endoparasitic load and diversity of domestic herbivore (goat, sheep) and wild herbivore (Indian gazelle) across two sites in Saswad area. Goat, sheep and Indian gazelle in this area shares the same grazing land, there is a chance to spread endoparasitic infection between these herbivores. A non-invasive method was opted for analysis of endoparasites of collected fecal samples. Total 104 fresh fecal samples collected from 2 study areas in Saswad. 58 samples from Pargaon village and 46 samples from Aamble village were collected during September 2018-March 2019. Collected fecal samples were analyzed by the Zinc Sulfate Centrifugation method. Through the analysis, Eimeria spp. (Goat,N=179;Indian gazelle,N=74) and Coccidia spp. (Goat,N=594;Indian gazelle,N=226) were most abundant in both herbivore species. High number of endoparases found in goat and sheep than Indian gazelle. It observed that some parasites, Strongyloid spp., Ascaris spp., and some unidentified species of endoparasite also infecting these herbivores. More fecal samples will signify the spreading pattern of endoparasites. This study provides baseline data for further research on wild and domestic herbivore. The data generated through this study will prove useful for researchers and conservationist regarding the health management of these species.

Project title: Investigating Aflatoxin Degradation using GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) Organisms
Name of the student: Prafulla Vaidya


Contamination of food and feed by aflatoxin (AF) is a grave problem as one cannot control the ingestion of the toxin, this cause a serious economic and health problem. Of the different processes to degrade the toxins is well known, degradation by biological methods utilizing Generally Regarded As Safe Organism (GRAS) namely Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Lactobacillus casei isolated from YakultTM were used in this study. Aflatoxin production by Aspergillus flavus was isolated from an infected groundnut. Further degradation was checked by the GRAS organisms through cell binding method. These organisms are known to have an ability to bind the aflatoxin on their cell wall and thus the reduce the concentration of aflatoxin, to such a level which are not toxic when consumed. An initial of 20μg/mL of AFB1 was used in the study. The amount of AFB1 remaining was measured against time by thin layer chromatography (TLC) and UV spectrometry. Both the species were able to degrade AFB1, and no significant difference was found between them. However, Saccharomyces cerevisiae was found to degrade 42% of the toxin in first two hours and reached to 53 % in 12 hours. Lactobacillus casei degraded about 16% 4 hours and reached the degradation to 23% in 13 hours. To the best of our knowledge this is the first study carried out to determine at which growth phase of the organism are the toxin degraded. This study may further open new avenues to understand the metabolomics in the lag phase to degrade the toxin.

Project title: Studying effect of colchicine on Hydra
Name of the student: Pratik Paranjape


Interstitial stem cells in hydra are multipotent cells which continuously differentiate into nerve cells, nematocytes, cnidoblasts and gland cells of hydra. Colchicine is a chemical which inhibits cell cycle by arresting the cells at metaphase of the mitosis. In hydra cell counting can be done by macerating and making a smear after staining with reduced methylene blue. The smear was observed under 40x in microscope, photographed and the cells were counted easily. Comparing the cells of colchicine treatment for 24 hour and 48 hour with the control hydra gives the difference between the numbers of cnidoblast. The total number of cells present in each of the sets is related to the action of colchicine, so by taking cell count of these colchicine treated hydra we can predict the action.

Project title: Variation in Bird Diversity with Habitat Quality in Panvel, Maharashtra
Name of the student: Rahul Misal


As urbanization is increasing throughout the world it has an impact on wild life. Avian species are used and act as an indicator to analyze the impact in the surroundings. This study aims to understand the urban impacts on bird such has quality and quantity of vegetation, human disturbance across the urban areas to the urban fringes (remnant parts) of Panvel City. Its shows increase in urbanization give rise to decrease in species richness of birds and decrease in vegetation percentage. Remnant parts namely Gadeshwar and Shivansai shows high species richness as they are situated far away from the City area and situated near foot hills of Matheran which falls under Western Ghats of Maharasthtra, where as the Urban area shows the low species richness of birds due to high human disturbance and low vegetation quantity and quality.

Project title: Diversity and Distribution of Various Species of Geckos of Northern Western Ghats
Name of the student: Saurabh Swami


The geckos are the most diverse and distributed group of Reptiles all over the world. They inhabit a wide array of habitats including tropical and temperate forests, mountains, deserts, swamps, grassland, farmland, even shrubs and are also found in abundance in cities. Irrespective of their widespread distribution and relative abundance, very little data is available on distribution of geckos. In India, the geckos are widely distributed across all the landscapes. Some of the geckos are known to be endemic to Western Ghats. Although, many new species of geckos are being discovered recently, yet very less literature is available on studies on their distribution and abundance. The distribution patterns of geckos are well understood by knowing their habitat preferences. The diversity indices can be used to know and study their important habitats, which are the habitats showing maximum diversity and species dominance. Seven different species of geckos (Hemidactylus maculatus, Hemidactylus murrayi,Hemidactylus prashadi, Hemidactylus sahagali, Cyrtodactylus albofasciatus, Cyrtodactylus deccanensis, Eublepharis fuscus) were reported from five different localities (Matheran, Tamhini Ghat, Malhargad, Chalkewadi, Amboli).

Project title: Cultivated traditional rice varieties and preference towards them in Jawhar tehsil, District Palghar
Name of the student: Neehar Barve


Palghar is a relatively new district. The Jawhar tehsil of this district has significant amount of tribal population and with them their indigenous and traditional rice varieties. Rice varieties are a large part in India’s Agrobiodiversity which needs urgent efforts for conservation. The study was carried out understand and know the traditional rice varieties in cultivation and the rice cultivator’s preference towards them. Five villages namely Gardwadi, Kelicha pada, Ramnagar and Adkhadak were sample for 20 cultivators each with total of 80 cultivators. The cultivators were surveyed for their personal & socio-economic profile, traditional rice variety they cultivate and their preference towards them and lastly their constraint with respect to traditional rice cultivation. The findings of this study include association between personal & socio-economic profile and the preference towards traditional rice varieties, major constraints like low market prices and lack of knowledge and awareness about rice varieties and traditional cultivation practices.

Project title: Investigating diet of Indian grey wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) in Saswad grassland, Pune
Name of the student: Unmesh Mitra


Indian Grey wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) was historically widespread throughout Indian Sub-continent. Today it is an endangered species in Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 in India. It has been seen worldwide that if the habitats have high anthropogenic pressure with low abundance of wild prey, the wolves feed on livestock which may lead to human-wildlife conflict Therefore, it was necessary to estimate their dependency on livestock in human dominated landscape. This study is conducted in Saswad-Waghapur Grassland, 40 Km away from Pune City. Scat analysis method was used to identify the prey base of wolf. This study was conducted on scats from two adjacent wolf packs, 3 individuals in each pack. Samples were collected between June 2018 to January 2019 in Saswad-Waghapur grassland. Majority of scats (71.4%) contain single prey item, 28.57% scats contain double prey item whether 0.03% scats contain 3 prey items. 68% of wolf’s diet consist of livestock, 27% is wild prey and rest 5% is unidentified. In livestock, Goat is the most consumed prey (49%) in wolf diet. While rodents (67%) are the most abundant wild prey found in wolf’s diet. It is a challenge for the managers to reduce dependency of wolf on domestic livestock to minimize Human-Wolf conflict. The survival of wolf is important for the stability & functioning of the entire prey base also important for existence of healthy and vigorous prey populations.

Project title: Variation in bio-acoustic communication of free ranging Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) Population
Name of the student: Vedanti Mahimkar


Communication is an integral part of animal behaviour. Birds emit vocal signals in response to different events. These vocal signals play an important role in sociobiology of birds since every signal conveys different information or message. Previous studies have been aimed at studying acoustic communications among oscine birds. However, very little is known about the acoustic communication patterns and physical characteristics of calls of non-oscine birds. To overcome this research gap and gain new insights on non-oscine bird communications, we aim to study, the acoustic communication of free-ranging Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) population. The study was conducted from May 2018 till December 2018 in Pune, Maharashtra, India. We have addressed,
The vocal repertoire of free-ranging Indian Peacock
Characteristics of vocal signal and variation in it
The behavior(s) associated with these vocal signals
The characterization and analysis of these acoustic signals was done with computer-assisted sound analysis. Different call types were identified by studying spectrogram. Each call was assessed for the total number of notes, call duration, duration of each note, duration between two successive notes and frequency. Indian Peafowl emits a wide variety of calls comprising of single note calls, alarm calls and breeding season calls. These calls encompass a wide range of frequency and can be categorized into short range (0-4kHz) and broad range calls (0-15kHz). Calls were associated with specific behaviour(s) and the situations viz. the “Honk”, “Pe”, “Honk-Kor-Ko-Ko” and “-Kor-Ko” was emitted in the presence of threat, Whereas, “Pe-Kaan”, “Honk-Kaan”, “Kor-kaan”, “Eow” and “Kaan” was specifically associated with the breeding season. Our data suggest that the calls varied across the breeding and non-breeding season and Indian Peafowl are more actively vocal during breeding season as compare to the non-breeding season. This study will provide baseline data for further research on Indian Peafowl vocalization.

Masters Dissertations – 2018

Project title: Identification and photo-documentation of Myxobacteria from soils of Pune
Name of the student: Rama Paranjape


Myxobacterial diversity is one the rare area of microbial diversity and at the same time wide area of interest due to their characteristic features of life cycle .i.e fruiting body formation. Myxobacteria is Aerobic, Gram Negative, and Saprophytic Organism which feeds on other microbes for nutrition. They switch their mode of life cycle from vegetative to reproductive form depending upon nutrient conditions. Wide range of social adaptions and life cycle complexity involving co- perative behaviour broaden the interest in research field.

This study Revealed, Two myxobacterial strains viz. Myxococcus Xanthus and Un-indentified spp. were isolated from diverse habitat including urban and sub- urban areas using Rabbit dung method and cultivated using water agar medium. Morphological characterization revealed vegetative short rods were confirmed by biochemical analysis. Life cycle stages such as swarming, aggregation, Fruiting body formation, and Sporulation were reflected as a result of photo- ocumentation. Saprophytic predatory nature of Myxobacterial species was recorded gave indication of Antimicrobial Compound formation by the cells as a secondary metabolite. Antimicrobial susceptibility of prey organisms including pathogens against Myxobacterial cell extract was the measure of bacteriolytic nature of Myxobacteria.

Project title: Evaluation of antimicrobial activity in extracts from marine algae
Name of the student: Rutuja Tapkir


Evolution of Antimicrobial activity in extracts from marine algae. In the last three decades the discovery of metabolite and biological activities from marine algae has been increased significantly. Seaweeds known as macroalgae are amongst the most important primary producers and act as ecological engineers on rocky coast of the world’s oceans. Marine algae are known as a potential source of bioactive substances. Antimicrobial activity indicates that the presence of active constituents in the extraction of marine algae which can be exploited for the production of innovative drugs for the benefit of the humanity. In this study it was shown that aqueous extract of green algae Enteromorpha ramulosa has ability to inhibit the growth of the gram positive and gram negative bacteria. However the ethanolic extract showed no antibacterial activity. Antifungal activity was not detected against Aspergillus niger. Antioxidant activity by DPPH assay was determined. For the purpose of phytochemical investigation preliminary phytochemical test and TLC were mainly used and which showed presence of various phytochemicals. GC-MS analysis of ethanol extract of Enteromorpha ramulosa shows the presence of constituents like 3-(4-Ethoxy-phenyl)-1-phenyl-benzo[f]quinoline, Diisooctyl phthalate and Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate reported that having various biological activity

Project Title: Importance of Urban woodlands as bird habitats: A case study of Pune city region (MS)
Name of the student: Fergus Anthony


Biodiversity conservation in urban areas has become significant not only because of increasing human population in urban centers but also because it is one of the innovative ways to conserve biodiversity as suggested by various global environmental conventions. This Study was carried out for the period from July 2017 until February 2018 aimed at comparing the bird communities between Urban woodlands and a Natural forest situated at the periphery of the city of Pune, grasping the influence on the birds in the urban woodlands, and ultimately suggesting methods of preserving and managing the urban woodlands in a proper manner so that the biodiversity is conserved there. The number of birds observed in this study recorded 83 species and 1103 individuals in total, where the number of species were 68 in urban woodlands and 47 in the natural forest. The number of Individuals were calculated by taking average values per visit as the number of visits were unequal which resulted in Natural forests having higher number of Individuals observed there, this is mainly due to the levels of disturbance which is almost nonexistent in the Natural forests but present in the urban woodlands.

I also compared the possible biotic and abiotic pressures that the habitats face by preparing an impact matrix and scoring them values from 0-5 (where 0 is not persistent and 5 is for highly persistent).According to the matrix the major factor affecting the biodiversity in the corresponding areas was Human intervention, recreation & settlement around the woodlands and a majority of the factors are human induced which must be controlled as early as possible. By this study we can see that the urban woodlands of Pune city have a high avifaunal richness and preserving it is very essential. Since increasing the size of parks is difficult in the city, enhancement of habitat diversity and resources availability for birds within urban woodlands appears to be a straightforward way of increasing urban bird diversity.

Project Title: Foraging ecology of free ranging dogs in Pune city
Name of the student: Malvika Colvin


Free-ranging dogs, (Canis lupus familiaris) are an integral part of the human environment in India and many other countries. They spend their entire lives on the streets as scavengers, and though they are not owned by humans, they are dependent on humans for their sustenance. In India, dogs are considered to be ‘neighbourhood dogs', being either semi-dependent or independent of people for food and shelter and unrestricted in their movements. This neighborhood dog's account for about 60 percent of reported dog-bite injuries.There is a need to manage and to control free-ranging dogs as the dog’s bites incidences are being still reported. As part of an extended study on the Foraging ecology of dogs in Pune, I tested the hypothesis that active feeding in dogs will lead to less foraging and difference in time budget of urban stray dogs. If this hypothesis holds, then the per capita effects of dogs can be reduced by improving the quality and quantity of their diet. For this study focal animal observation method was used and individuals were followed. Observations of individuals were made from a vehicle or by walking using an android application for calculating the duration of activity. From the observation, I used data to draw up a frequency and time- activity budget of community fed dogs and free-ranging dogs. Further analysis was conducted to compare the behavior of dogs which are fed and which are not. Two major parameters were used for comparison of foraging behaviors: Treatment and Site. Our analysis showed a significant difference in behavior of free- ranging dogs and community fed dog with respect to active feeding. This reveals that the community fed dogs spend less time in foraging as compared to free- ranging dogs. But in other activities such as playing, social interaction, barking, etc there is no significant difference between community fed and free-ranging dogs. This implies that, despite feeding dogs, there is no major change in their behavior. Further research is required to determine if feeding results in changes in local distribution and density of dogs and if this has the potential to exacerbate conflict.

Project Title: Effect of agricultural operations on soil micro flora & its correlation to bio-fertility.
Name of the student: Shantanu Ekbote


The agricultural soil is subjected to various operations and practices in the course of its use for crop production. The soil health is affected due to the operations like tilling, ploughing, weeding out grasses and use of weedicide. This affects the already critical stage of organic carbon content of soil. The rhizospheric beneficial oligotrophic microflora associated with soil and plants also gets affected by such disturbances. Hence the area of focus was oligotrophs. In this study, a farmland with no operations except tilling & addition of nitrogen was compared with farmlands implying the above mentioned practices. The diversity pre-enrichment and post-enrichment was represented on 8 different media specially designed for oligotrophs. At numerous instances in statistical analysis of data, the diversity and evenness were found to have relatively higher values for the former. The latter was found to contain nutrients in excess which could have been the cause for lower counts of evenness and diversity indices. The nutrients included NPK, micronutrients & physico-chemical parameters. The oligotrophic microbial diversity was affected due to certain practices implied at that instant. The co-relations obtained from study were subjected to co-relation with physico-chemical parameters of the soil.

Project Title: To investigate diversity of Rodents (Muridae) and their prey-predator relationship with Canidae (Canis lupus, Vulpes bengalensis) in Semi-Arid Grassland ecosystem, Solapur, Maharashtra.
Name of the student: Akshay Waghmare


The attempt was made to understand the ecology of the habitat by studying some crucial aspects of ecology like Diversity, and prey-predator relationship. Diversity of rodents was studied for the first time in Solapur. Understanding the diversity of rodents can also give clues for studying availability of prey species for the carnivores. The availability of prey species can vary with the habitat and vulnerability. Anthropogenic pressure can lead to decline in the population of the major prey species and hence affecting the predators. This can also lead to change in the feeding habits. As wolves and foxes are well known for their diversified feed it is important factor to study this aspect on temporal and spatial scale. Rodents being the major part of fox diet it is necessary to study and understand the prey selection so as to know the niche preference and prey availability. Habitat utilization by these carnivores can also be known along with this study as some rodents require specific habitats throughout their life history.

Project Title: Diversity of insect pollinators in Amboli
Name of the student: Jitendra Marathe


The attempt was made to understand the ecology of that habitat by studying some crucial aspects of ecology like Diversity, and prey-predator relationship. Diversity of rodents was studied for the first time in Solapur. Understanding the diversity of rodents can also give clues for studying availability of prey species for the carnivores. The availability of prey species can vary with the habitat and vulnerability. Anthropogenic pressure can lead to decline in the population of the major prey species and hence affecting the predators. This can also lead to change in the feeding habits. As wolves and foxes are well known for their diversified feed it is important factor to study this aspect on temporal and spatial scale. Rodents being the major part of fox diet it is necessary to study and understand the prey selection so as to know the niche preference and prey availability. Habitat utilization by these carnivores can also be known along with this study as some rodents require specific habitats throughout their life history.

Project Title: Chemical and biological examination of Musa (banana) leaves: A special reference to leaf position
Name of the student: Neha Tone


Plants produce large number of metabolites (phytochemicals) that play important role in growth, development and response towards environment. It is well known that a wide range of chemical signals enable them to optimize their adaptation to their respective environments, termed as defensive chemicals or allelochemicals. Through this study, we aim to understand the influence of leaf position on the production of metabolites. One such study was performed on Musa (banana) species. Musa is a perennial herbaceous crop easy to obtain and work with. In this work we investigate the influence of leaf position on phytochemical profile. The leaves selected for the study were categorized as foliage, middle and the cigar leaf. They were collected from three different Musa plants and were screened using ethanol: chloroform: hexane extracts for comprehensive assessment of the biological activities. The variations in the presence of the phytochemicals may also be due to the choice of the solvent used in the extraction, ethanol is a polar solvent while hexane is a non- polar. Variation in phytochemicals and biological activities were observed in different developmental positions, thus contributes in finding characteristic metabolites (metabolic markers) for specific developmental stages. Phytochemical study revealed the ethanol and hexane extract showed high antimicrobial activity as compared to chloroform. Antioxidant study revealed no correlation with the position of leaf and collection day but a positive correlation in the tine of exposure to the reducing potential was observed. This study may provide unique insights into understanding the fundamental nature of plant phenotypes in relation to development, physiology, resistance and biodiversity. These results may aid plant breeders to identify resistant marker metabolites that integrate phytochemical data with the influence of the environment under stress conditions.

Project Title: Evaluation of Phytotoxic effects of leaf leachates of Cosmos and Xanthium on crops such as Triticum aestivum L, Trigonella foenum-graceum L, Vigna radiata L.
Name of the student: Pallavi Gharpure


Many invasive weeds are reported world-wide. Studies pertaining to them suggested their deleterious effects on biological ecosystems. Deleterious effects such as inhibition of growth of indigeneous plants and agricultural crops, bringing about drastic changes in soil characters. Weeds such as Cosmos and Xanthium have their existence near agricultural crops field. Such weeds differ in abundance, which release specific allelochemicals or ecochemicals which have adverse effect on germination rate and their physiological patterns and reproduction. Allelopathic effects of leaf leachates of Cosmos and Xanthium were studied on seed germination and seedling growth of Triticum aestivum (Wheat), Vigna radiata ( Mungbean) and Trigonella foenum-graceum (Fenugreek ) mainly cultivated crops from Pune region. Seed germination was inhibited at higher concentration at 6% while lower concentrations showed some stimulatory effect on Mungbean and Fenugreek from 1%-4% concentrations. But seed germination percentage of Vigna and Trigonella foenum-graceum showed 70% and 60% growth in response to leaf leachates concentration of Cosmos at 6%. Triticum showed total inhibition of 40% to Xanthium and Cosmos leaf leachates. The qualitative analysis of phytochemicals showed presence of alkaloids, phytosterols, phenols, tannins, flavonoids with absence of saponins, carbohydrates and proteins. Variations in results can be concluded due to different environmental condition response of the plant. GC-MS and IR studies revealed presence of major constituents as esters, ethers, anhydride and polyalcohols. FTIR analysis of Cosmos and Xanthium in the range 4000-400 cm-1 showed the characteristic fingerprinting regions of various functional groups such as –OH, carbonyl, anhydride, ester, amide.

Project title: Development of attractant and repellent formulations for pollinating Butterflies
Name of the student: Preet Deoghare


The project is based on the idea to increase the rate of pollination by using butterflies as a tool. Many plants attract and reward pollinators with floral scents and nectar. Attracting butterflies by using attractants when they supposed to pollinate and repelling them or keeping them away from the flowers when fertilizers have been spread on the crop plants is the basic principle behind the project. For attractant and repellant formulations, essential oils of flowers of Lantana camara, Conoclinium coelestinum and Cosmos sulphureus were used at various concentrations. The study is to reveal the ecological interaction between butterflies and flowers using various concentration of essential oil at which they respond. It is an ecofriendly way to increase the rate of pollination with the help of biotic factors and ecological functions being performed in the nature. The bioactivity of essential oils of these three species was checked over four concentrations (1, 5, 25 and 50 μl) with liquid paraffin as a solvent. Six replicates of each concentration were taken. Visual cues (Red and Yellow) colours were tried along with olfactory cues. We got no significant visits of butterflies on the tried plant species and their various concentrations.

Project title: Characterization and Identification of Actinomycetes and their bioactive potentials
Name of the student: Sayed Irfan


Actinomycetes are beneficial soil bacteria and potential candidates as biocontrol agents where most of the antibiotics are produced by these microorganisms. The use of such microbes against other disease-causing bacteria is an attractive and ecological approach. The study reports fermentative production of bioactive compounds from Streptomyces cultures which were checked for their antimicrobial activity. 13 cultures out of 58 cultures showed activity against bacteria which was then chosen to check their Minimum Inhibitory Concentration. Selected cultures showed good activity against bacteria and yeast such as Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Escherichia coli and Candida albicans, respectively. KG3 strain (Streptomyces luteosporeus) showed good activity against all strains and its MIC was very less against E.coli that is 2.5μg / ml. V18 strain (Streptomyces hydrogenans) MIC against C.albicans was 182 μg / ml. These selected cultures were then characterized phenotypically by staining, SEM imaging and growing on different media such as AIA, SCA, MGYP, ISP-2, and ISP-7. Biochemical characterization and 16SrRNA approach was used to identify the potential strain. Laboratory Scale Fermentation of one isolate i.e. KG3 was carried out. Separation of the bioactive compounds produced by the selected strains was carried out using TLC bioautography and High Performance Liquid Chromatography profiling of the same was carried out. Based on sequence data phylogenetic relationship of the potential strain was established.

Project title: Diversity of insect induced plant galls in Amboli
Name of the student: Shantanu Ghatge


Tumors caused on vegetal part of the plants, named galls occur due actions of various organisms such as bacteria, fungi, nematodes, insects and mites. The galls induced by insects show the most complex type of herbivory. Most of the gall-inducing insects show high specificity towards host plant. A survey was carried out from August 2017 to February 2018 in Amboli to study the diversity of plant galls, morphological characters of plant galls and host plant alteration by gall inducing insects. During the survey, sixteen morphotypes of galls belonging to 12 plant families reported. Families Myrtaceae, Melastomaceae and Lauraceae presented the highest number of galls. Gall inductors belonged to orders Diptera, Hemiptera, Thysanoptera and Lepidoptera. Most preferred organ for induction of gall was leaf. Data on the parasitoids of gall inductors was also incorporated in the present study.

Project Title: Taxonomic identification of Hermit crabs and their shell utilization pattern from Kelshi, Maharashtra; India
Name of the student: Shraddha Athavale


The purpose of present study was to investigate the taxonomic identification and the shell utilization pattern of the hermit crabs found on Kelshi beach. The samples were collected from November 2017 to January 2018. Sampling was carried out on two sites: rocky patch and sandy beach. At both the sites to get maximum diversity of hermit crabs, stratified sampling was done at high, mid and low tide areas. Total 5 species were identified after examining the taxonomic characters. Color pattern, chelipeds, telson, rostrum and parts of ambulatory legs were found to be important in taxonomic separation. Clibanarius arethusa and P. kulkarni were found using only 3 and 5 species of gastropod shells respectively during the study period. While C. padavensis was using 10 shell species, C. zebra was in 15 shell species, D. dubius was found in 15 gastropod species. It has been observed that ovigerous females use only specific types of shells. The difference between shell utilization by males and females of single species was also observed. For conclusive remarks on the shell preference by each of these species of hermit crabs, more samples needs to be collected.

Project title: In vitro studies on allelopathy by the effect of leachate on germination of crop seeds.
Name of the student: Tasmiya Sheikh


The phenomenon of direct or indirect influence of one plant on the other plant , animal or microbes is known as allelo biogenesis. It occurs through the variety of allelo chemicals or eco chemicals produced by the plant. These interactions are positive as well as negative. The phyto chemicals produced by the plants are naturally released in the soil in the form of leachates. Naturally these leachates are found to be affecting seed germination process of other plants. So it was conceptualised that whether these leachates are showing their effect on seed germination under in vitro conditions. So the weed plants are selected to study their allelo biogenetic effects on seeds of some crop plants in invitro conditions. Cosmos sulphureus and Xanthium strumarium plants were used in plant tissue culture. Different concentration of leachate was used ( 40%,20%,10%,5%,2.5% )to know the growth of plant in invitro. By leachate it was seen that it was inhibiting the growth of crop seed plants. Phytochemical analysis was done of Cosmos sulphureus and Xanthium strumarium many chemicals showed positive results.

Masters Dissertations – 2017

Project Title: Effect of hypergravity on survival and antibiotic resistance of bacteria
Name of the student: Akshay Marathe


Ecology The distinctive feature of brown dwarfs, sub-stellar bodies and Jupiter is the presence of hypergravity. The fundamental requisite for survival in such environment is the ability to demonstrate growth in hypergravity. Besides survival in hypergravity and rocks, it is a mandatory requirement for microbial travel between planets, panspermia, and resistance to hyper accelerative forces faced during ejection of rocks from planet. As survival of organismic life in marine and hypergravity is mandatory for substantiating theories of panspermia and inter planetary travel, this study aimed at exposure of Escherichia coli KK1 and Vibrio spp KK2 to hypergravity. Escherichia coli KK1 and Vibrio spp KK2 previously isolated in our laboratory from marine sample were subjected to hypergravity at 893 X g using acceleration generated by centrifugal rotation. The cells of Escherichia coli KK1 and Vibrio spp KK2 proliferated and demonstrated good growth in hypergravity (893 X g). Both were also tested for various modes of action for combating hypergravity. Various effects of hypergravity(effect on membrane permeability, antibiotic susceptibility etc.) were determined. The current investigation highlights that hypergravity may not be a limitation for habitability of sub stellar bodies or planets with hypergravity.

Project Title: Ecofriendly Approach to Enhance Soil Fertility for Plant Growth, Yield and Status of Crop
Name of the student: Naik Akshada Yashwant


Spinach is commonly found, high demand widely grown leafy vegetable in India, especially in the state of Maharashtra. The fresh leaves of Spinach are a rich and cheap source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, essential amino acids, Ascorbic acid etc. Considering the weather conditions Spinach is sowed in this region at two times of the year viz as a main crop in October and further in January- February as a summer crop. The plant grows to a height of approx. 30 cm. The growth of the spinach plant is stimulated and promoted by many components mostly present naturally which can also be enhanced through artificial means such as plant growth promoting and regulating microbes. Said microbes when inoculated with biogas slurry have shown more potency and thus can compete with other available microbial flora. This is further supplemented through use of present day nanotechnology techniques to provide quick results.

This project focused on consortium of these three approaches to study growth of Spinach plant namely Biofertilizers, Nanoparticles and biogas slurry. It studied how these combinations can be useful in stimulation of plant growth, yield and status. Nanoparticles were characterized through U.V. spectrometry, SEM, FTIR and XRD. Concentration of silver and zinc nanoparticles (1ppm to 10ppm) did not show antagonistic effect against Phosphate solubilising microbes and Bacillus subtilis microbes. Also, they did not show any toxic effect which was confirmed using Allium cepa assay.

The results showed that when tested for growth and yield of a spinach plant (field trials) by applying biofertilizers combination along with different nanoparticles, silver nanoparticle had higher potency followed by zinc nanoparticles. Thus, silver nanoparticles consortium can act as a promoting future nanonutrient.

Project Title: A Study of Odonate Species Assemblage across an Urbanization Gradient
Name of the student: Apeksha Darshetkar


Understanding species responses to habitat modification and urbanization are important to understanding their specific conservation needs. Odonates (Dragonflies and damselflies) are freshwater insects looked upon as good ecological indicators for understanding wetland habitat health. To understand responses of tropical odonates to urbanization gradient, we carried out a study on habitat ecology of odonates along an urbanization gradient at six sites along Mula River that flows across Pune City. As a part of the standardization, we first evaluated four counting methods for sampling adult odonates at river-side – Full-width Belt Transect, Half-width Belt Transect, Full-circle Point Count, and Half-circle Point Count. We then recorded species and their habitat correlates by taking several temporal replicates. We used one-way ANOVA to compare among sampling methods. For species-habitat analysis, we first performed variable reduction using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and then performed Redundancy Analysis (RDA) and Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) on species-habitat data. We found that Half-circle Point Count method was the best suitable method to count adult odonates at river-side. We documented 35 odonates across six sites. Our multivariate analyses did not return statistically significant results; however, damselflies showed a shift in the species composition across the urbanization gradient as compared to dragonflies. Here we show that traditional belt transect method is not suitable for counting adult odonates at river-side and species responses to urbanization may vary based on their habits and ecology. We further discuss the implications of the result and where future researchers should focus.

Project Title: Spatial and temporal phytoplankton biodiversity dynamics of Mutha River, Pune
Name of the student: Aseem Abhay Shendye


The attempt was made to understand the ecology of the habitat by studying some crucial aspects of ecology like Diversity, and prey-predator relationship. Diversity of rodents was studied for the first time in Solapur. Understanding the diversity of rodents can also give clues for studying availability of prey species for the carnivores. The availability of prey species can vary with the habitat and vulnerability. Anthropogenic pressure can lead to decline in the population of the major prey species and hence affecting the predators. This can also lead to change in the feeding habits. As wolves and foxes are well known for their diversified feed it is important factor to study this aspect on temporal and spatial scale. Rodents being the major part of fox diet it is necessary to study and understand the prey selection so as to know the niche preference and prey availability. Habitat utilization by these carnivores can also be known along with this study as some rodents require specific habitats throughout their life history.

Project Title: Assessing abiotic ecological parameters of sand influencing direction of root growth of Ipomoea pes-caprae (l.) on sandy beaches of northern Ratnagiri, Maharashtra
Name of the Student: Chinmaya Ghanekar


The species Ipomoea pes-caprae is perennial, creeping vine having bilobed leaves and violet infundibular flowers. Roots of I. pes-caprae commonly grow in vertical direction i.e. perpendicular to sand surface. Reportedly, roots of I. pes-caprae are also found to grow lateral i.e. parallel to sand surface. Also these roots are known to threat Olive Ridley Turtle nestings from Maharashtra. Considering this, variation in direction of root growth became important to study in the light of abiotic ecological factors such as temperature, moisture, organic carbon and sand grain size. This study established a strong correlation between fine grain proportion in sand with vertical root growth and medium grain proportion in sand with lateral root growth. Therefore, it can be inferred that mechanical resistance provided by different sizes of sand grains may have effect on direction of root growth of Ipomoea pes-caprae. This study also discusses about refining conservation practices for Olive Ridley Turtle nestings. Along with the lab based analysis, this study attempts to monitor root growth of the species Ipomoea pes-caprae by a small experimental setup where original growth was removed and a new growth was observed in relation with the sand grain size for which the qualitative results are provided.

Project Title: Habitat preference of Bamboo Pit Viper (Trimeresurus gramineus)
Name of the students: Devendra Dutta Pandey


I studied factors influencing habitat selection by T. gramineus (Bamboo pit viper). To determine microhabitat selection, a range of habitat features at each snake’s location were measured. Whether or not the animal was found in a tree, its height of perch, position on the branch (distal/ apical/middle), diameter of the branch, the tree canopy (thick/sparse) and vegetation of the area (thick/sparse) were recorded. Assessment of habitat was done to determine how patterns of habitat use vary seasonally. Shaded ambient (air) temperatures and humidity were recorded. No individual was found in open habitats. The individuals preferred diverse habitats and were spread over the entire available space during the monsoon; bamboo pit viper did not show any preference for the perch height during different seasons. The present study suggests that several factors play an important role in habitat selection by these arboreal pit vipers, thus making them highly habitat-specific.

Project Title: Understanding the response of people living in Protected Area (Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Mumbai) towards leopards.
Name of the Students: Nishant Nandkumar Zajam


In megacity like Mumbai where land is a scarce source, Sanjay Gandhi National Park is extremely important for the conservation of Leopard Panthera pardus fusca. SGNP has been surrounded by the sea of human settlements across its periphery, causing habitat degradation of the apex predator of the park. Human- leopard interactions occur frequently in SGNP, as the leopard enters into the human habitation inside and outside the park in the search of the prey. The tribal community living inside SGNP show positive response of the presence of leopards in their vicinity. Documentation of the response and views shown by the tribal community towards the leopards is essential in understanding the approaches of tribes towards the large predator. This information can be used for planning long term leopard conservation project in SGNP. This study deals with the different response shown by the tribal community in SGNP towards leopards.

Name of the student: Pooja Ghate


Seed is a product of sexual reproduction that consists of an embryo and seed coat. It disperses via a vast range of mechanisms, involving both abiotic and biotic vectors. It plays critical role in species establishment and growth in the given habitat. Very few ecological studies concerned with seed traits have been conducted for tropical woody plant species in general and Western Ghats (WG) in particular. Considering importance of seeds in plant diversity establishment, study on seed and fruit traits of woody plant species from Amboli in Northern Western Ghats was initiated. Of the total 44 species characterized for seed and fruit traits, 7 species were endemic to WG and 4 belong to ICUN red category. Data on seed and fruit traits such as fruit mass, fruit dimensions, fruit colour, fruit type, number of seeds per fruit, pulp to seed ratio, seed mass, dimensions, seed colour and shape were recorded. Relation of these traits with plant attributes like evergreen and deciduous nature, canopy and understory strata, height of trees and dispersal mode and season of dispersal was investigated. Of the total number of species studied, about 50% species (21 species) were single seeded and all exhibited zoochorous mode of dispersal. ‘Black’ was found to be the most common colour of mature fruits followed by ‘red’ among the studied species. The most dominant fruit type was berry (48 %). Dysoxylum binectariferum has the highest fruit mass (48g). Presence of under developed, immature seeds was more common in case of multi seeded fruits as against single seeded species. 48% species showed seed mass within 0.1-1.0 g. Highest pulp to seed ratio was observed in Salacia chinensis (9.98) whereas Beilschmiedia dalzellii has lowest ratio (1.5). Maximum number of species (20) were found to be dispersed in summer season (45%) followed by rainy season 17 (39%), followed by winter season 7 (16%). Weak relation (r =0.39) was found between the seed mass and the height of the tree.

Project title: To study Abundance, Occurrence and Seasonal patterns of aquatic Beetles of Sinhagad fort, Pune
Name of the Student: Pragati Shinde


Coleoptera is one of the species rich group of Insecta. An attempt was made to study seasonal patterns of aquatic beetles on Sinhagad fort from June 2016 to March 2017. Thirty three species belonging to four different families of aquatic beetles were observed. Out of 33 species, 7 were common, 7 were average and 19 were rare species. Laccophilinae and hydroporinae show highest co-occurrence. Mud based water bodies and rock based water bodies show two different clusters (Jaccard index 0.2). Temperature and pH vary between season while salinity and number of species did not vary. The ecological variables as area, vegetation and salinity show significant effect on the occurrence of aquatic beetle species.

Project Title: Taxonomy, distribution and threats to Shield-tailed snakes (Reptilia: Serpentes: Uropeltidae) in Satara District, Maharashtra.
Name of the Student: Prasad Gopalkrishna Gond


Uropeltidae is a family of cyanophidian snakes with regard to taxonomy, distribution, and threats are one of the least studied and lesser documented family of snake from India and Sri Lanka. Broad range distribution of Uropeltidae family is known from Maharashtra. The study aimed at mapping the distribution at micro- cale level by using various indirect sources. In the present thesis, I studied literature review and museum specimens. Occurrence of road killed individuals were used to analyze species richness among Uropeltidae family in Satara district of Maharashtra state. Based on this information further study on ecology and behavior of these species from this region can be done. This research provides a simple model using secondary data to map the distribution of other lesser documented family of snakes.

Project Title: To check the diversity of short horned grasshoppers in various habitats of selected localities of Pune: Mulshi, Sinhgad valley, Nanded phata, ARAI hill.
Name of the Student: Priyanka Ram Bansode


Short horned grasshopper diversity was checked in various habitats of selected localities from Pune. Orthoptera is one of the largest orders of grassland insects. Orthopterans are distributed through the physiographic zones of the world but their distribution largely depends upon the vegetation like grasslands, forests and agricultural fields. (Gangwere et al., 1997). Grasshoppers are of great economic importance, because they constitute an important group of pests and pose a constant threat to cereal crops, pulses, vegetables, orchards, and grassland and forest plantations all over the world. Grasshoppers cause significant damage to tree seedlings and agricultural crops (Joshi et al., 1999). Sweep netting and direct sampling with active search methodology was used for catching the grasshoppers for identification purpose . Grasshoppers were killed , pinned and identified with help of previous key and literature data. Total 704 individual of 2 families 11 subfamilies , 14 genera and 17 species was encountered during the study . Trilophida annulata Thunberg was relatively the dominant of all species in all habitat and localities . Result shows that there does not seem to be any effect of month or habitat type on abundance of species But the diversity indices for Simpson 1D , Shannon H is relatively high for grassland as compared to agricultural land and forest land.

Project Title: Influence of decreasing surface tension on water-strider locomotion, with assessment of seta morphology and allometry of locomotary legs
Name of the Student: Renuka Kulkarni


Water-strider locomotion has long been studied for its propulsive fluid dynamics on the surface of water, and the hydrophobicity rendered by the microstructures present on the insects’ water-repellent hair. While it is a well-established fact that the high surface tension of the water surface helps these insects walk on water, no studies had attempted to explore how water-striders respond to decreasing surface tension. This study conducted experimental trials where two local species of Gerridae, Limnogonus fossarum and Tenagogonus fluviorum, were subjected to decreasing levels of surface tension, and found that neither species could remain afloat beyond a surface tension of 0.035 Newton/m. L. fossarum showed a higher sensitivity in response to such changing conditions. This study also examined seta microstructure of seven local species of Gerridae, L. fossarum, T. fluviorum, Aquarius adelaidis, Onychotrechus rhexenor, Cylindrostethus productus, Metrocoris indicus and Ptilomera agriodes using Scanning Electron Microscopy, and found previously undocumented differences in types of seta as well as in the arrangement of nano-grooves on the seta. Multivariate allometry of the mid and hind legs of two species was also performed to understand variation in the length of these two locomotary appendages. Allometric analyses revealed an overall similarity in the mid and hind-leg length, except for a remarkable variation in L. fossarum with respect to the length of the second tarsal segment of the mid-leg. This may be a case of sexual dimorphism or a character unique to the species. Further studies needed to explore this variation in these and other Oriental species of aquatic Hemiptera.

Project title: Composition and changes of Araneae fauna, Spider (Arthropoda: Aracnida) in the agriculture field in relation with growing crops.
Name of the student: Rishikesh Tripathi

The study tested the hypothesis that effect of crop growth on spider population and composition of spiders changes with respect to physical structure of crops. To test the assumption two structurally different crops were selected, Bajra-Pearl millet (Pennisetum americanum) this is standing crop and Groundnut (Arachis hypogaea) which is spreading crop. Sampling was done for one complete season from sowing to harvesting. It was noted that with every succeeding visit spider population was increasing. Also, it was observed that web-building spiders were directly linked to the configuration of the vegetation because of specific web attachment requirement. Both, observation and analytical data support a strong relation between spider density and habitat structure. More investigation into the specific of how habitat structure influences the prey-predator interactions in agrosystem is needed in order to truly understand and manage agriculture production in a responsible manner.

Project title How has Tamhini Ghat Changed? Comparing Butterfly populations in a threatened habitat.
Name of the student: Shawn Dsouza

Tamhini – Sudhagad Wildlife sanctuary (18o27’N,73o25’E), established in 2013, is a prime example of crucial habitat giving way to human encroachment. Voluminous research has established butterflies to be sensitive to and hence indicative of ecological disturbance. This study intended to highlight the patterns of change in butterfly populations from 1998 to 2017, amidst changing land use in the Northern Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot. Butterfly diversity & evenness, community structure and community composition were compared across seasons (temporal), habitats (spatial) and six dietary guilds based on host plant preference, viz., grass specialist, herb specialist, liana specialists, shrub specialist, tree specialist and generalist. These patterns were compared to data published by Padhye et al. (2006) collected between 1998 and 2000. There is a significant increase in diversity over two decades (𝐻𝐶𝑢𝑟𝑟𝑒𝑛𝑡1 = 28.31, 𝐻𝑃𝑟 𝑣𝑖𝑜𝑢𝑠1 = 22.31, p << 0.01). However, unevenly distributed abundance along with an increase in generalist species are indicative of disturbance and higher habitat homogeneity. High diversity values coupled with the high species turnover (Bray – Curtis dissimilarity = 0.3283) may be caused by a higher number of satellite species foraging in the study area. Community structure of butterflies resembles communities in early stages of succession. The changes in the community over the period of almost two decades are indicative of increasing levels of anthropogenic pressure. Long-term continuous monitoring could provide deeper insights into the effects of unchecked development and habitat modification has on threatened ecosystems.

Project title: Spatial and temporal zooplankton biodiversity dynamics of Mutha River, Pune.
Name of the student: Siddarth Sudhakar


It has been demonstrated that qualitative and quantitative characteristics of zooplankton depend on the degree of pollution of a water body and adequately reflect differences in the conditions of zooplankton growth between the whole water bodies and their individual parts. Cladocerans from the polluted river Mutha, Pune, Maharashtra were sampled from December 2016 to March 2017. pH, DO, BOD, COD, TDS and Hardness was assessed from water samples collected simultaneously, to study such effects. This study describes temporal and spatial changes in zooplankton density and diversity, and the physicochemical complex of the River. During the study period individuals from 3 genera belonging to the order Cladocera were identified viz. Moina, Kurzia and Ceriodaphnia. A sharp increase in the cladoceran population was observed in the month of March. Spatial differences in zooplankton population were more apparent in the winter months of the study period. The spatial and temporal differences are attributed to the combined effects of various hydrological, physicochemical factors across the river, effluent discharge into the river and also the human activity on the banks.

Project title: Assessment of diversity and abundance of Birds, Butterflies, Odonates and Amphibians in an artificially developed landscape and natural forests
Name of the student: Srushti Bhave


In the current study Bird, Butterfly, Odonate and Amphibian diversity of a resort “The Empower Activity Camp” was evaluated. The campsite was constructed by landscaping natural forest which is still present around the Campsite. The Campsite now has a number of fruit plantations, and some native plants along with some artificial water ponds. Total number of species recorded from the study were, 121 species of Birds, 44 species of Butterflies, 21 species of Odonates and 10 species of Amphibians. The Sorensen Similarity index revealed 0.66, 0.60, 0.69 and 0.89 similarities of Birds, Butterflies, Odonates and Amphibians respectively between the campsite and its neighbouring forest. Amphibians were found to be using the artificial pools to for breeding. Worldwide, efforts are being made to integrate biodiversity into building of resorts and hotels. Our study shows that retaining patches of natural habitats while landscaping and using native plants for the same can help sustain a healthy diversity. However, more such studies will be required to come up with a set of principles and policies that can be used for future developmental projects.

Project title: Impact of Relocation program on Livelihood of the people living in Achanakmar Tiger Reserve, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh
Name of the student: Sunny Milind Thatte


Relocation programs are implemented for the protection of natural resources, tiger habitats and maintaining ‘Inviolate Areas’ for wilderness. This in turn affects the management of the Tiger Reserve, especially the Critical Tiger Habitat which in the case of Achanakmar Tiger Reserve is synonymous with its Core Zone. The Core Zone of the Tiger Reserve is termed as a sanctum sanctorum. It is supposed to have the least disturbance and is maintained as an ‘Inviolate Area’. In such areas it is concluded that co-existence of humans and wildlife is not possible. If any habitation or a village is locate in the core zone of the tiger reserve where coexistence is not possible the management has to take recourse to voluntary relocation. Such relocation is a complex process and affects both wilderness and humans in various ways. This study has been undertaken in the Achanakmar Tiger Reserve from where 6 villages were relocated. This served as a good study area to assess the impacts of relocation. Data collection on various socioeconomic and ecological aspects was collected from the sampled inhabitants of these villages through administration of questionnaires, Focus Group Discussions and Informant Interviews. The data was analysed using various statistical methods in vogue. After analysing various variables, it was concluded that the relocation process conducted by the management of Achanakmar Tiger Reserve has been a successful one, in terms of all the variables considered. The conclusion drawn through this study is that if carefully done and monitored the complete process of relocation may be handled properly without hurting the sentiments and putting the local communities to inconvenience and further achieving the conservation objectives as well, to maintain ‘ Inviolate Areas ‘ for conservation of wildlife. A way forward has been suggested to guide the process of relocation in future.

Project title: Study of Plant Diversity Along Banks of River Mutha, Pune,Maharashtra, India
Name of the student: Smt.Uma Ashok Kalamkar


The rivers are important channels of material and energy, which are constantly reeling under the impacts of human influences that often lead to deterioration of the ecosystems and reduction in biodiversity. The Mutha River in Pune is an east-flowing perennial river holding a lot of ecological importance. A great amount of biodiversity has been observed and recorded by experts along the Mutha river. Pune city, known as “Oxford of the East”, has been growing rapidly in both, human population and new land acquisition along Mutha river, thereby causing impacts on the riparian vegetation. Hence this study was carried out to document the plant diversity in 9 selected locations along Mutha river banks. Total 243 plant species belonging to 204 genera and 69 families were recorded from the study area, dominated by herbaceous plants followed by trees and shrubs. Maximum number of species was recorded from Vitthalwadi followed by Khadakwasla and diversity was found decreasing downstream from Vitthalwadi. With respect to micro-habitats, dryland habitat dominated the study region, followed by moist soil habitat, rocky habitat, marshy and aquatic habitats. Most dominant families in the study region were Asteraceae and Poaceae, followed by Fabaceae, Malvaceae, Convolvulaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Labiatae, Mimosaceae and Moraceae. Cluster analysis of study sites based on similarity in the floristic composition revealed that the two sites viz. Khadakwasla and Sambhaji Udyan Backside were distantly related to each other as well as to other sites. Nanded City site is also showing dissimilarity with other sites. Specific species found here viz. Combretum ovalifolium Roxb and Glycosmis pentaphylla (Retz) DC indicate the presence of evergreen forest along Mutha river in the past. Comparison with previous studies reveals appearance of 59 new species and disappearance of families like Naidaceae, Molluginaceae, Campanulaceae, Getinaceae, Nyctaginaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Orchidaceae and Amaryllidaceae which were recorded earlier. Garbage dumping, loss of habitats especially shrinkage in marshy area, disconnectivity in existing habitats, pollution and establishment of invasive species are the major threats to Mutha river vegetation.

Project title: To find temperature preference in Garden lizard (Calotes versicolor)
Name of the student: Vaidehi Yashwant Lele.


The study was conducted to estimate temperature preference (Tp) by ectotherms like lizards, to observe the response to temperature change on lizards. A garden lizard (Calotes versicolor) is least concern lizard species in IUCN list. In this study we have recorded body temperature (Tb) of Garden lizards (Calotes versicolor) with T type of thermocouple probe. Also recorded their microhabitat temperature with HOBO data logger. Samples were collected from Pune and Mahableshwar study sites. These sites were selected because altitudinal difference. Total 10 individuals collected from each site & noose sampling method was used for sample collection. For this total 20 individuals we have recorded data of location, altitude, SVL (snout-vent length), sex, average Tb. This study we observed Tp range for Pune sample was more than Mahableshwar sample. Also SVL and altitude change affect average Tb of lizards. We also observed males are larger in size as compared to females.

Project title: Microhabitat preference and locality records of Sand Boas (Reptilia: Serpentes:Boidae)
Name of the student: Vishal. A. Varma


The family Boidae family is amongst the least studied family of snakes in India. Three species are known to occur in India out which Whitaker boa is recently described species and endemic to Western Ghats of India. I carried out the study pertaining to their distribution in Northern western Ghats i.e. Satara district. I collected the data with the help of local snake rescuer’s & from Non-Governmental Organizations and showed their regional distribution in Satara district which is a part of Northern Western Ghats. Their taxonomic characters are studied with the help of museum specimen from Zoological survey of India, Pune & Bombay Natural History society, Mumbai. Mapped preliminary efforts towards the mapping the distribution of Boidae was done. Distribution was mapped by using Q-GIS. This is first hand result done for distribution of family Boidae in Satara. In present study it is found that there are few location like  Mahabaleshwar, Patan, where all three members of family Boidae are present. E.conicus & E.johnii these two species share very much similar range of distribution in Satara district. E.conicus & E.johnii are found in following localities in Satara; Wai, Mahabaleshwar, Patan, Koyna, Tapola, Kashil, Bamnoli, Kusumbi, Medha, Jor. E.whitakeri is found in following localities in Satara; Yavteshwar, kas, Vasole, Dhom, Menavali, Khandala, Patan, Tapola.

Masters Dissertations – 2016

Project Title: Factors governing the insect-herbivores of Jatropha nanaDalz. &Gibs.: an endemic species from India and Predicting the distribution of Jatropha nanaDalz. & Gibs through ecological niche.
Name of the student: Ashish N. Nerlekar


Ecology of endemic Jatrophas needs to be studied as desirable wild traits in them have been proposed to be incorporated in the biodiesel crop J. curcas for crop improvement.Jatropha nana Dalz& an endemic, threatened plant having great economic potential, inspite of which, insect-herbivores ofJ. nana have only been superficially researched. Thus the present study aims to assess the factors governing insect- herbivore diversity on this plant, its characteristics, temporal trends and chief predictor variables. A two-level field sampling was employed for the target population on three hills in Pune city for 12 times from May-September 2015. Insect- herbivore diversity, density of ramets, phenology, disturbance, and climatic factors were measured for each of the 36 clumps and all ramets within it, which were the two units of sampling. Through the samplings, a total of 18 insect herbivores were reported out of which the moth Pempelia c.f. morosaliswas most abundant. The diversity indices and estimators rise till sampling 10 and then fall till sampling 12. The Michaelis-Menten equation predicted 23 insects and the rank-abundance plot indicated an assemblage with high dominace. A cluster analysis for all samplings revealed that samplings 1 and 12 were most similar to each other than rest. An exploratory Principal Component Analysis revealed similar patterns in similarity of samplings and that temperature, phenology and density were the predictor variables that chiefly contributed to the data variance. Several significant correlations within the predictor variables were observed. This is the first systematic field study on this theme and provides baseline data for further research on J. nana. The data generated through this study will have tremendous significance in the near future and will prove useful for researchers after J. nana is successfully hybridized with J. curcas. Similar studies should be replicated for other endemic Jatrophas in India.

Project Title: Assessment of intra-population genetic diversity in Ficus religiosa L. from Pune city using ISSR markers
Name of the student: Sneha Sadanand Joshi


The present study focuses on single population, but more study is required to be done on entire distribution range of Ficus religiosa with more sample size and appropriate marker in terms of type of marker (dominant, co-dominant), selection and number of primers (universal and species specific) etc. to understand complex genetic structure. Finding of this study gives insights of intra-population genetic variation maintained by a well-adapted and successful urban tree, which can be utilized for future breeding and conservation strategies, selection of source populations in plantation programs and its management in urban environment.

Project Title: Molecular phylogeography of Calotes versicolor from the Western Ghats of India.
Name of the student: Gaurang G Gowande


Calotes versicolor has been largely neglected by taxonomists in India and worldwide in the post-independence period. We carried out a molecular phylogeographic study in the Western Ghats of India, based on the sequences obtained by us from the Northern, Central and Southern Western Ghats of India. Our results demonstrate that Calotes ‘versicolor’ is not a single lineage and also highlights the existence of at least one undescribed taxon. Our investigations revealed the existence of two well-supported deeply divergent clades, isolated spatially by the Palghat Gap to some extent. This demonstrates that agamid taxonomy in India is still in a primitive state and that the agamid diversity is largely underestimated. We propose that Calotes ‘versicolor’ in India demands thorough taxonomic revision and integration of molecular phylogenetics with classical systematic can help elucidate the systematic and evolutionary relationships in the genus Calotes. Besides, we also designate a neotype for the species, as the holotype has been lost or stolen or misplaced, and in the absence of type material for comparison, systematic studies would remain incomplete.

Project Title: Arachnid (Spider) diversity across various habitat gradient of Mulshi Taluka, Pune, Maharashtra
Name of the student: Amruta Jagdish Chavare


Spiders are one of the most diverse group of organisms they play a major role in terrestrial ecosystem. They exhibit a variety of foraging strategies by which they exert a control over invertebrate populations in varying ecological niches. They also serve as criteria for becoming an ecological indicator. Their high abundance, diversity, habitat preferences, foraging strategies, ease of collection allows the researcher to monitor them effectively. The aim of this study was to identify the spider diversity present in Mulshi and its surroundings, and to determine to what degree of species composition varies within habitat type. Comparisons were made between the 3 sites on the basis of habitat and diversity of spider was observed within the sites. The results from this data demonstrated large degree of variability which correlates with habitat type. Species abundance and diversity Shannon and Simpson index were used to record information of static index in Mulshi of spiders and also to record a dominance index because it gives more weight to common or dominant species.

Project Title: Characteristics of Vocal Signals in Sykes’s Lark
Name of the Student: Pranjal Joshi


The Sykes’s Lark (Galerida deva) is a passerine bird of the family Alaudidae. Larks have a melodious song, which is often distinctive (Grimmett et al. 1998). It is endemic to India and mainly found in Central India (Grimmett et al. 1998). Very little is known about the characteristics of vocalizations and behavior of the Sykes’s Lark. The focus of my research was to document the spectrum and analyze the characteristics of vocalizations and possible functions associated with these vocalizations. Also analysis of song pattern was one of the objectives. The recordings were done at Saswad, Pune between June and October 2015. Behavior associated with these calls/songs was noted. All recordings of vocalizations were assessed using sound analysis software (Audacity and RAVEN) to generate sound spectrograms for comparison. Each call/song was assessed for frequency, call duration and frequency at maximum amplitude measurements. For each song/call, the song patterns were identified by studying the pectrogram of each recording (Catchpole & Slater, 1995). The minimum frequency varied from 1.5-2.5 kHz, the maximum frequency varied from 4.5-6.5 kHz and the frequency at maximum amplitude varied from 2-4 kHz. Each phrase from the individual call/song was identified and assigned a letter code. 162 unique phrases were found in the recordings made. This species emits a wide variety of phrases and is a prolific singer. The Sykes’s Lark is also a mimic and mimics many types of calls of other birds. Two types of behaviors associated with singing and two types of behaviors associated with calling were observed. Birds were observed to be singing by hovering in the air and standing on prominent perches like small stones. Birds were observed to be calling while flying short distances and in between feeding.

Project Title: The impact of tourism on herbaceous vegetation with special focus on invasive species of a rock outcrop in Lonavala, Pune district, Maharashtra.
Name of the students: Noopur H. Borawake


Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries of the world. This rapid growth of the industry has a major impact on both people and nature. Tourism is a double edged sword since its effects could be both positive as well as negative. Nature-based tourism, agro-tourism, ecotourism and community-based tourism are the new emerging forms of tourism. The present study is concerned with nature based tourism, which is a tourism based activity in natural areas. is a scarcity of information on the impact of biotic pressures like tourism on rock outcrops in India. Hence, the present study focuses on assessing the impact of tourism on native herbaceous vegetation and attempts to understand the abundance of invasive species on the rock outcrops of Lonavala.

Project Title: Collection and estimation of Non Timber Forest Products (NTFP’s) from the dry deciduous forest and its contribution to the economy of tribal community.
Name of the Students: Mistry Divya U.


The area at the lower west end of the Satpura Ranges is a forest cover with dry deciduous ecoregion that is of due importance to the tribal communities living there. Non Timber Forest Products are an important source of subsistence and income. The diversity of those forest products in such an area with high temperatures, their seasonal availability and market value if any will give us the idea of overarching projects concept. The Socio economic factor, analysis of the available data of the place, current debate associated with the place, issues between the tribal community and forest department officials etc are things which have been taken a note of. The community relies on biodiversity, the problems they come across due to external and internal threats which affect the NTFP collection are also surveyed.

Project Title: Preliminary scoping for birds as ‘Bioindicators’ of water quality in and around Pune, India
Name of the student: Surabhi V Walavalkar


Bird diversity and water quality was studied in four areas of Pune district, Maharashtra, India in late monsoon and winter season. 80 bird species were observed and correlated with water quality of that particular area. Highest Shannon and Simpson index was observed at Mula Mutha Bird Sanctuary, Yerwada and species are more evenly distributed at this site. At Khadakwasla, the species are unevenly distributed. Good water quality was observed at Khadakwasla. It was determined by studying few physico-chemical properties which includes dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand, pH, temperature, alkalinity, hardness, turbidity and total dissolved solids. This study also provides an overview of anthropogenic threats in the study areas.

Project title: Effect of soil texture and antlion size on antlion pit dimensions.
Name of the Student: Arjit Jere


Antlion ecology and behavioral research is very fragmentary in India. Significant knowledge gap exists for study of antlion ecology in India. Basic Understanding of behavior and ecology of these insects will be important to ascertain its research as well as ecological value in future. The work aims to study if variation in soil texture has any effect on antlion pit dimensions like diameter and depth. It also aims to investigate if antlion length is correlated with pit dimensions. Both these inquiries have been carried out independently.

Project Title: Study of breeding biology and acoustics of the koyna toad (Xanthophryne koynayensis)
Name of the Student: Vedant R. Dixit


This species Xanthophryne koynayensis is a toad belonging to family Bufonidae. It is endangered species endemic to Northern Western Ghats and reported from in and around Koyna Wildlife sanctuary. X.koynayensis is strictly adapted to the laterite and breeds only on lateritic plateaus or boulders. Although general information on breeding biology of the species from this genus is known, there was no detailed study available for this species. Aspects of breeding biology we studied are vocalization, amplexus, oviposition, territorial behaviour and development of tadpoles. Here we characterized call of X.koynayensis for the first time and we studied few other aspects of natural history i.e. foraging behaviour and roosting behaviour. This is the first basic qualitative study of X.koynayensis breeding behaviour.

Project Title: Butterflies as bioindicators of habitat destruction across four habitats in Northern Western ghats, Maharashtra, India
Name of the Student: Vidula Varadarajan


Climate and disturbance is known to have a hand in shaping species richness and number of individuals in a given region. Past studies have shown butterflies can act as indicator species to reflect the health of the ecosystem. A study was initiated to analyse how the dynamics of butterfly population count can indicate habitat destruction. Four study sites were chosen on the basis of contrasting vegetation. Number of different butterfly species in four study sites over a period of seven months were counted by systematic and random sampling. Sinhagad valley is a forest, Pachgaon Parvati and Vetal tekadi are hillocks and Peacock bay is a grassland valley. Highest diversity of species (59) was recorded in Sinhagad. Disturbance was analysed using five parameters grazing, fire, built up, lopping and deforestation. Each parameter was scored by cumulative disturbance index. Habitat quality affects butterfly species richness and composition.

Project Title: Effect of non-coated ceo2 (cerium dioxide) and peg coated CEO2 nanoparticles on bacterial system
Name of the Student: Priyanka Dange


The emergence of multiple, important applications for CeO2 nanoparticles (CNPs) and increased industrial production will undoubtedly lead to environmental release of nanoparticles. The aim of this project was to synthesize non-coated and PEG coated CNPs and check their comparative effect on bacterial system. The non-coated CNPs & PEG coated CNPs were synthesized, dispersed and characterized by UV. SOD mimetic activity was observed for both noncoated and PEG coated CNPs. Antibacterial activity was not observed against E. coli & S.aureus at neutral pH. Pro-oxidant and anti-oxidant effect of PEG coated and non-coated CNPs was observed on the bacterial system.