Student Projects

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.

Masters Dissertations – 2015

Project Title: To Study the Seasonal Variation of Marine Algae and their associated endophytes in Kelshi, Ratanagiri dist, Maharashtra
Name of the student: ABHIDNYA UNHALE


Seaweeds, known as macro algae, are amongst the most important primary producers and act as ecological engineers on rocky coasts of the world's oceans. The principal use of seaweeds by man is as a source of human food and as a source of phycocolloides. Monthly sampling was carried out from April 2014 to January 2015. The seaweed species were identified using taxonomic keys. Maximum species belonging to phylum Rhodophyta (8 species) was reported in post monsoon months followed by Chlorophyta (7 species) and Pheophyta (5 species) while poor growth of members of all three classes was observed in monsoon months. Seasonal variation occurred only during winter months. Marine organisms are potentially prolific sources of highly bioactive secondary metabolites that might represent useful leads in the development of new pharmaceutical agents, but so far no comprehensive work has been done on marine algae and their associated endophytes at Kelshi coast. Endophytes from predominant species (Gelidium sp., Ulva sp., Hypnea sp.) were isolated. The microscopic identification was carried out and three fungal species namely Alternaria sp., Tricoderma sp., Fusarium sp. were found. These fungal species were further preserved to study their use in Bioprospecting, if any. The results of this study, which involve the ecological impacts and economic aspect of the algae will play a role in creating awareness amongst the local communities and will thus also help in their conservation.
Keywords: Marine algae, seasonal diversity

Name of the student: VISHAL MAGADUM


The present study deals with the floristic composition, regeneration status and demographic profile of the Swayanbhu Katali sacred grove of Gaganbavada, Kolhapur District, Maharashtra, India. It covers an area of 0.81 ha. Altogether, 100 Angiosperm species from 91 genera and 50 families were enumerated from the sacred grove. Out of these species 12 are endemic and 9 have IUCN status. In the sacred grove 6% plant species showed good regeneration, 35% fair, 6% poor, 2% lacked regeneration and 51%.were new. Regeneration density of sacred grove was 246075 individuals/ha. High occurrence of ‘additional species’ to the groves may be due to the invasion through dispersal from other areas. Key stone species Memecylon umbellatum was the most dominant species in the regeneration. The density–diameter distribution of woody species in grove showed highest stand density and species richness in the lowest girth class and decreased in the succeeding girth classes. A huge GBH (279cm) individual of Terminalia bellirica is present inside sacred grove. The current photo documentation quit helpful to identify the Syzygium species in the field. For better identification photo documentation macro and microscopic may be more useful. There is a significant variation observed in seed traits in Aglaia lawii, Garcinia talbotti, Knema attenuata and Rauvolfia verticillata.
Key words - Sacred grove, regeneration, demography, Syzygium, seed biology

Project Title: Studying demographic profile and regeneration status and seed biology of selected plant species from Sacred grove of Amboli.”
Name of the student: JYOTI WALKE


The present study focuses on the study of demographic profile and regeneration status of woody species especially endemic woody species of Sadachi rai Sacred grove, Amboli and seed biology of selected plant species and photo-documentation of Syzygium species, Amboli. Inside sacred grove 56 species of woody plants were recorded and outside side the sacred grove 26 woody plant were recorded. It was seen that 30% tree population from sacred grove was composed of endemic woody species with some threatened individuals. Species richness was more inside the sacred grove than that of outside the sacred grove. 13 endemic plant species for regeneration and 10 endemic species for demography were recorded inside sacred grove.( table no. 6) while outside the sacred grove only two species were recorded as endemic. Seeds of selected species (threatened or endemic ) were collected for seed biology study. These seeds, were further observed for seed traits and germination percentage. Photo-documentation of field identification characters and habitat of selected Syzygium species were recorded.

Project Title: A study of the breeding ecology and habitat utilization of Xanthophryne tigerinus (Amphibia, Anura, Bufonidae)
Name of the student: SHRUTI EKAWADE


Breeding biology of an organism is the study of its reproductive behavior and strategy. There are anecdotal reports of the Amboli toad Xanthophryne tigerinus which comment on the atypical mating strategy of this toad. This study attempts to describe the breeding behavior in detail and habitat utilization of the critically endangered, but little-known Xanthophryne tigerinus in the Amboli region of Sindhudurg district, Maharashtra. Data is based on direct observation. The main aim of this study is to provide additional information about this species in order to determine conservation strategies.

Name of the Student: NAYANTARA DESHPANDE


Documenting amphibian diversity has become a recent concern due to the global amphibian decline. The Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot, houses many anuran species, most of which are endemic to the Western Ghats. In this study I aim to capture the anuran diversity of Amboli, a town in Maharashtra which falls on the crest line of the Northern Western Ghats. Belt transects were used capture the diversity along with opportunistic sightings to check for species variation within a season. The transect method yielded a total of 15 species belonging to 8 families, 3 of which are endemic to the Western Ghats.

Project Title: Comparing Insect Assemblages between Sacred Groves and between inside and outside areas
Name of the students: JAI SONWALKAR


Sacred groves are being studied by researchers for not only their cultural but also their ecological significance. These community conserved areas help to protect the flora and fauna associated with them. Insects perform important ecological functions and help maintain ecological balance. Few studies have been carried out in the sacred groves for insect diversity. This study strives to compare insect diversity between two sacred groves, Jugai and Kalkai, and between the areas inside and outside the groves. Different sampling strategies were used to study insect diversities inside and outside the groves, as the outside areas lacked vertical stratification that was found inside. For inside, traps were used to target insects found in various strata of the forest, namely, canopy level, understory and ground level. Pan traps were used at the canopy, window (flight interception) traps were used for understory and pitfalls were used for ground level insects. Opportunistic netting was used or overall sampling. No significant difference was found in the insect diversity between Jugai and Kalkai and between the areas inside and outside them. Order Diptera was found to be dominant overall. In pan traps, the catch was composed of mainly Diptera, followed by Hymenoptera and Hemiptera. In pitfalls, the majority was formed by Coleoptera, followed by Hemiptera and Hymenoptera. Window traps showed dominance by Diptera, Hymenoptera and Coleoptera. In netting, Hymenoptera dominated the catch, followed by Diptera and Lepidoptera. Insects that were hand collected using collection jars showed Hymenopterans as the majority, followed by Coleopterans and Lepidopterans.

Project Title: Isolation, screening and characterization of Multifunctional Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR) from Soybean (Gycine max) Rhizosphere.
Name of the Students: Priyanka Bhalekar


Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) are a group of bacteria that can be found in the rhizosphere, in association with roots which can enhance the growth of plant directly or indirectly. A large number of bacteria including species of Pseudomonas, Azospirillum, Azotobacter, Klebsiella, Enterobacter, Alcaligenes, Arthrobacter, Burkholderia, Bacillus, Rhizobium and Serratia have reported to enhance plant growth. Here, in this study 20 rhizobacterial isolates were isolated, screened and characterized from Soybean plant root rhizosphere. The various attributes of plant growth promoting bacteria which include Indole acetic acid production, mineral solubilisation, zinc solubilization, Siderophore production and acid production were studied and also the seed elongation assay was performed. Seven multifunctional isolates were isolated showing different multifunctional plant growth promoting activities. Thus, it can be summarized that the isolated multifunctional PGPR may show potential in delivering soybean plant growth and also can be used as an eco-friendly alternative for reducing soil pollution caused by fertilizers usage.

Project Title: Isolation, screening and characterization of multifunctional plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) from Onion (Allium cepa) rhizosphere
Name of the student: Apurva Wadkar


Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria are bacteria that colonize plant roots, and in doing so, they promote plant growth and/or reduce disease or insect damage. There has been much research interest in PGPR and there is now an increasing number of PGPR being commercialized for crops. Rhizobacteria possessing multiple plant growth promoting activities were isolated from the rhizospheric soils of Onion plant growing in Pune region. Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacterial (PGPR) strains were isolated and screened for their plant growth promoting activities like phosphate solubilization (Gupta et al. 1994), Zinc and potash mobilization, IAA production, siderophore production (CAS assay method by Schwyn B and Neilands JB. 1987), Nitrogen fixation, HCN production. This study was aimed to assess the potential of 26 soil bacterial isolates from Allium cepa i.e. Onion rhizosphere producing plant growth promotion. Out of these 26 soil bacterial isolates, 4 isolates shows multifunctional activities of PGPR.
Key words: Soil bacteria, PGPR, Rhizosphere, Screening

Name of the Student: Tejaswini Prabhudesai.


Flower volatiles are traditionally regarded as pollinator attracting signals. Floral traits such as colour, shape, nectar and scent attracts different visitors towards them. Several studies found a positive relation between the diversity of floral resources and the diversity and abundance of floral visitors. Also, weather and light conditions influence the abundance of floral visitors. Present study looks at the seasonal diversity of floral visitors, of two different sacred groves in Western Ghats, Maharashtra. Floral visitor diversity was studied by using Time Transect method. Pan Trap method was used for the sampling of insect floral visitors, which visited at canopy plants. Total 9 orders of visitors were encountered in Jugai sacred grove. In which, 5 orders were of insect floral visitors, 3 orders were of bird floral visitors and order Araneae consists of spiders from 3 different families were observed. Total 6 orders of visitors were encountered at Kalkai sacred grove. In which, 5 orders of insect floral visitors and order Araneae consist of spiders of single family were observed. In Pan Trap, 9 orders of insects were recorded at Jugai and 6 in Kalkai. Insects were found to be the major group of floral visitors as their abundance was more than birds and spiders floral visitor. In insect floral visitors, order Hymenoptera and Diptera were found to be dominant orders.

Name of the Student: Nikhil Vilas Jambhale


It is universal that, the marine ecosystem is known to be one of the richest amongst the entire living ecosystems. The marine ecosystem is more diverse than the terrestrial ecosystems. The number of coastal areas of Maharashtra show high biodiversity and are unique with regards to the flora and fauna. The marine ecosystem particularly the intertidal zone is one of the most dynamic zones that interface between sea and terrestrial environment. Among the diversity of intertidal area, molluscs are highly successful animal group in terms of ecology, adaptation and they are found in nearly all habitats ranging from deepest ocean trenches to the intertidal zone. Research was carried out on selected coastline viz. Mandavi, Bhagawati Bandar and Kalabadevi beaches skirting along the Ratnagiri city. Quadrates of 2×2 m2 were placed for the collection of molluscs. During the experimental work, about 1,211 individuals were collected from 32 species beloning to 28 genera. By comparing diversity indices, Mandavi beach showed higher biodiversity of species followed by Kalabadevi and Bhagawati Bandar. Crassostrea belcheri was most dominant species at Mandavi and Paphia textile was also dominant species at Kalabadevi. At Bhagawati Bandar, the animal diversity was observed less. Along with this, the study of environmental parameters like temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and pH were studied with respect to the species diversity, but, in present investigation it has been observed that, there is no significant relationship in between them.

Name of the Student: Madhura Thakurdesai


Dandruff is common problem found in hair scalp. It caused by Malassezia yeast (Pityrosporum). We cannot overcome dandruff problem in one cleansing. There are many shampoos in market, against hair fall, dandruff, split end hair, head lice, which contain mainly chemicals, which sometimes show allergy or side effects. Due to heavy use of chemical shampoo human faced problems like loss of hair, dryness of hair, increasing dandruff. Formation of dandruff causes much reason such as low proteins, hormonal imbalance, improper diet, and one important reason is it transmitted through diseased person. This antidandruff shampoo tried to prepared by using herbal remedies i.e. (Nyctanthes arbortristis) Parijatak, Khair (Acacia nilotica), Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum -graecum) and Clove (Syzigium aromaticum), natural foaming agent like Ritha (Sapindus mukorossi) and herbal care – Shikekai (Acacia concinna). Antidandruff activity of plants constituents of shampoo were tested using agar well diffusion method. Apart from that Nyctanthes dry leaves extract in hexane, Acacia pods extract showed antidandruff activity in ethyl acetate, chloroform, hexane, Fenugreek seeds extract in ethyl acetate and Clove fruits extracts in ethyl acetate against Malassezia furfur.

Name of the Student: GANESH N. HONWAD


Non-timber forest products (NTFP) form a very important source of livelihood to forest dependent communities. Market value and demand for NTFPs has grown considerably in the past ten to fifteen years while declining revenues from timber in some areas have encouraged foresters to consider the values of NTFPs. It is believed that the concept of sustainability, which is widely accepted in recent decades, should take into account the total value of forests and to ensure management of these resources in a manner that will provide numerous economic, environmental and social uses. Sustainable forest management includes also socio-economic functions through contributions of forest resources to the overall economy, processing and marketing of forest products, trade and investments in the forestry considering the importance of the products and also the organization and cooperation between the actors in the NTFPs sector (collectors, producers and traders). Two NTFP’s were selected. Caryota urens and Carissa congesta. Collection of primary data for investigated research on market of NTFPs and actors involved in dealing with NTFPs was by survey with semi-structured questionnaires, one for collectors and contractors and for individuals active in the field of NTFPs (processors and traders). Framework used was marketing theory with focus on marketing mix tool: product, price, place and promotion (4Ps) .There are two levels of companies which exist on the market of NTFPs, companies which exports and companies which act as middlemen. Also it can be concluded that there was need for greater amounts of collected NTFPs, because the capacity of companies were utilized only 50%. So, there is greater demand versus supply of NTFPs.  The interest of collectors of NTFPs register trends of decline due to the low price of NTFPs, too much time spent on collection, etc. On the other hand, NTFPs represent important income for their family budget according to the difficult economic situation in the state.
Key words: NTFPs market, economic potential, commercialization, trade, collectors.

Project Title: Waghoba- A large cat deity: Understanding tolerance toward felids among rural populations in Maharashtra and Goa, India.
Name of the Student:  Sahil Pimpale


Where humans and animal predators co-exist, conflict over territory and resources between these two groups has been observed. On the contrary practice of felid worship in the form of Waghoba- a large cat deity, is overlooking this conflict. This worship is making rural communities tolerant about the presence of large cats in their vicinity. The acceptance shown by the grass-root communities could be a strong driving force for conservation of large felids that form the apex of the food chain, and are responsible for keeping a control over the population of ungulates. Documentation of tolerance towards large cats due to worship of Waghoba is essential in understanding approaches of human beings towards large predators. This information could be used for formulating effective large scale conservation strategies. This study deals with different themes under which felid worship is performed and offers an explanation of why communities worshiping Waghoba are more tolerant of tigers and leopards.
KEYWORDS: Animal worship, conservation, predators, tolerance, Waghoba.

Name of the Student:   SAYALI DEVALEKAR
  Seaweeds, known as macro algae, are amongst the most important primary producers and act as ecological engineers on rocky coasts of the world's oceans. They have ecological as well as economic importance. Marine algae are known to produce a variety of bioactive secondary metabolites and several compounds have been derived from them for prospective development of novel drugs by the pharmaceutical industries. However algae from parts of Ratnagiri district (Maharashtra) have not been adequately explored to their full potential as a source of bioactive substances. In this study, algal species were isolated periodically from rocky beaches of Ratnagiri to identify if there was a change in species composition with respect to environmental factors. Evaluation of total fat percentage, algal bioactivity and endophytes, if present in algae was also recorded. The results of this study, which involve the ecological impacts and economic aspect of the algae will play a role in creating awareness amongst the local communities and will thus also help in their conservation.
Project Title: Identification and Survey of Sea anemones found in the Ratnagiri District of Maharashtra, India
Name of the Student:   ZOYA TYABJI
  Sea anemones have biological and chemical influences on the surrounding ecosystem. They can be used as a potential indicator organism for ultraviolet radiation in the marine environment, as their larvae are susceptible to ultraviolet radiation. There are a high number of associate organisms that live with and within the sea anemone. Although many researches have been conducted on the sea anemone internationally, sea anemones in India are scarcely known. The thesis reports the species of sea anemones found in the rocky and sandy intertidal coastal zones of Bhandarpule and Allava lying in the Ratnagiri District of Maharashtra, India. This thesis is an initial effort to enlighten information on the diversity, relative abundance and vertical distribution of the sea anemones. Occurrence and diversity of sea anemones from coasts of Allava and Bhandarpule beaches were studied on field. There were collectively a total of 11 species found with no significant difference in the diversity between the two sites. There was a vertical distribution seen in both field sites with Bunodosoma goanensis being the dominant species in the lower intertidal zone and Anthopleura species being the dominant sea anemone seen in the upper intertidal zone. The study can be used as a baseline study to conduct further research on sea anemones of India.
Keywords: Sea anemone, invertebrates, intertidal zone, diversity, vertical distribution.
Project Title: To study the occurrence of Indian Giant Squirrel: Ratufa indica (Erxleben, 1777) in forest fragments in Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary and its relationship to various ecological factors.
Name of the Student:  Nishikant Pansare

The Indian giant squirrel Ratufa indica (Erxleben, 1777), an endemic species to India, is widely distributed from the evergreen to moist and dry deciduous forests of Western and Eastern Ghats and the central Indian hills. I studied the occurrence and density of Giant Squirrel in isolated fragments from the Bhimashankar Sanctuary. Twenty isolated patches were identified and studied within the sanctuary. Out of those seven patches showed presence of both giant squirrel and nests, two patches showed only nests and remaining eleven patches did not show presence of both giant squirrels and nests respectively. One sixty four nests and twenty one giant squirrels were observed in total during the survey. The number of squirrels increased with the increase in the number of nests respectively. The giant squirrel requires canopy density of seventy-five percent or more. The patches having lesser canopy density did not show any giant squirrel. Sygyzium cumini was the most preferred tree for building nests. The quality of corridors was one of the factors in determining the presence of giant squirrel within the adjoining patch. Destruction of forest by humans was the main reason for the degradation of forest which resulted in their fragmentation. The use of overpass bridges and ropeways can recommended for joining of fragments alongside the road. Natural tree plantation can also be recommended for patches with break in canopy at different points. Reduction in the dependence of humans on the forests will be useful to reduce fragmentation.

Name of the Student:  VAIBHAV GHADAVALE

Now a day, it is necessary to conserve and protect medicinal plants because some plants are going to extinct so there is need to create or increase awareness through ex-situ conservation methods. Effective conservation strategies for medicinal plants should take place within four main aspects: - in-situ conservation, ex-situ conservation, education and research. According to my experiment, it is observed that not all plants required plant growth regulators to regenerate. In this paper regeneration of Madhuparni (Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni), Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin (Blanco) Benth), Pimpali (Piper longum Linn), Red Chitrak (Plumbago indica Linn), and Agnimantha (Clerodendrum phlomidis Linn) through cuttings with the treatment of plant growth regulator or without treatment of PGR is done in environmental conditions. Also awareness of medicinal plants has been done using display of iron pot with name plates or information plates and making herbal garden in College of Engineering, Hostel Department, Shivajinagar, Pune.
Keywords: Medicinal Plants, Protection, Conservation, Awareness, Regeneration, Plant Growth Regulator (Keradix Rooting Powder which is made up with Indole-3-Acetic Acid).

Project Title: Marine molluscan diversity on intertidal shore : A Case study along the coast of Maharashtra.
Name of the Student:  Animish Limaye
  The intertidal zone boasts of a very high productivity due to the presence of a vast biodiversity of flora and fauna. Due to easy access, this zone may face overexploitation with heavy commercially fisheries and also by local and recreational extractive processes. Quantitative analysis of patterns of distribution and abundance with diversity of molluscs on the Maharashtra coast is being used to gauge whether local and recreational fishing is sustainable. There has been documentation of a dominance of gastropod species at the disturbed beach sites and presence of a higher diversity and abundance of bivalves at the ideal beach site. The latter’s presence can be speculated to be due to absence of highly extractive trawling off shore and fishing on shore; also a high quantum of by catch is noted. This could also suggest that there is a preference for bivalve species by the local populations for food more than gastropods. At the ideal beach, only a handful of locals undertake fishing for molluscs and after taking into account the abundance of species, recreational fishing can be termed as sustainable at only this site. Extractive human processes can lead to alterations in the ecosystem balance either directly or indirectly.
Key Words: Molluscs, quantitative analysis, diversity, local fishing, species
Project Title: Effect of habitat variability on snake diversity-A case study from Amboli, Maharashtra, India
Name of the Student:  Aaditya Naniwadekar
  The snake community in the Amboli region was studied in relation to check species composition in different seasons at different habitat types, disturbance and spatial-temporal habitat utilization of Trimeresurus malabaricus. The study was carried out in the parts of Amboli, Sindhudurg district, Maharashtra. Four habitat types were recognized, Moist-semi evergreen forest, Lateritic plateau, Scrubland and Degraded-Disturbed forest. Four transects of 100m each are laid in these four different habitat types. These total 16 transects were assessed on both timings, Day and Night in all seasons for sampling by time constraint search method. Total 256 transects have been taken.32 transects in one month (4 on day & 4 on night transects i. e total 8 transects in 4 different habitats). This method is repeated for 8 months, in 3 seasons. The study yielded a total of 14 species. Total 206 individuals were observed in transects. Highest no. of species was found in moist evergreen-evergreen forest which is 11 species. And lowest no. of species was found in disturbed-degraded forest which is 6 species. Whilst, highest no. of individuals were found in scrubland which are66 individuals and lowest no. of individuals were found in lateritic plateau which are 28 individuals. It was found that Malabar pit vipers were more in no. in disturbed or degraded habitat and their preferred microhabitat was lower branches and on the rocks. Disturbance is the main problem faced by this place. Destruction of habitats, degradation of microhabitats via deforestation, cutting-lopping practices by locals is the main threat. Kills by locals due to trespassing in and near human populated areas is the considerable issue. Road kills and disturbance by the tourists, travellers and amateur photographers are some serious issues faced by them, seasonally, mainly in monsoons.

Masters Dissertations – 2013

Project Title: Ecological assessment of lichen diversity in Lonavla Region and Its relation to biotic pressures
Name of the student: Archana Guleria


The present work deals with the study of lichen diversity in Lonavla region and it’s relation to biotic pressures. Different vegetation types are studied to get an account of different microhabitats preferred by lichens. Data is collected with the help of random stratified sampling and both line transect as well as quadrat methods were used. Ecological assessment of different sites in this region show high species richness and diversity. A total number of 471 individuals which include 32 species were encountered in Lonavla region, representing 18 genera belonging to 16 families. On the basis of different parameters studied in each sites, they were distributed into disturbed and undisturbed sites. Species abundance and richness was affected due to biotic factors such as proximity to water source and tar road, canopy cover etc. The results clearly demonstrate that the species richness is different in different habitats. The distribution and species composition of lichens at disturbed site is distinctly different from that of undisturbed site. In Lonavla these undisturbed sites if in future not conserved it may affect the lichen diversity of the area.

Project Title: Study of butterfly diversity and population with special reference to various habitats in and around Amboli, Sindhudurg, Maharashtra
Name of the student: Rakesh Deulkar


Present study focuses mainly on the association of different habitats with butterfly diversity and their abundance in and around Amboli region, Sindhudurg, Maharashtra. The main aim of study was to provide the systematic data in support of the efforts for estimating conservation value of the area.

In the study I found 107 butterfly species accounting for 1215 individuals in all 8 habitats. Conservation value was assigned to butterflies like high (>20), medium (10-20) and low (<10). Out of the 107 species recorded, 14 butterfly species were with high conservation value, 75 were with medium conservation value and 13 were with low conservation value. Species composition, distribution of butterflies with conservation values across all localities studied revealed following trend from conservation point of view (deciduous stream forest > semi-evergreen stream forest > deciduous forest on ghat slope > Semi-evergreen forest > Open scrub forest > Monoculture plantation > Deciduous open forest. Agriculture was most species poor and hardly supported any species that possess high conservation potential.

Project Title: A study of the nesting behavior of Baya weaverbirds (Ploceus philippinus) with special reference to nest platform selection by males
Name of the student: Mukta Watve


The Baya Weaver Bird (Ploceus phillipinus) is a common Indian Plocein found in grasslands, scrubs and cultivated areas. Being extremely common, the nesting and behaviour of these birds is very well studied. Nonetheless, a little is studied of the Baya weavers from an ecological or evolutionary point of view. Females choose mates based on their nests. They prefer nests built higher up in the tree on thin branches away from the tree trunk. Such nests are also difficult for predators to reach. Under such a dual selection pressure of predation and female selection, it is only natural to think that males would show similar preferences for nesting platforms. If they do, pioneering males in a colony would occupy better platforms simply due to their greater availability whereas latecomers would get a lesser choice for selecting nesting platforms.

We tried to investigate whether or not a nest’s position is decided by the entry number of its owner and if not, what other factors may be playing a role. Surprisingly, we found that the later males selected better nesting platforms as compared to the early males.

Project Title: Isolation and evaluation of Multifunctional plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria from from Paddy (Oriza sativa, L.) fields under in vitro conditions
Name of the student: Yogesh Kenge


Microorganisms are indispensable component of our ecosystem and are essential for maintenance of sustainable ecosystems and biodiversity. Colonization of the plant root system is the very first step in nearly all interactions between plants and soil-borne microbes. Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) influence plant health and productivity by variety of mechanisms. In this study, 54 rhizobacterial isolates were isolated from rice Oryza sativa,L.,rhizosphere and their plant growth promoting activities were studied. The study of multifarious activities included Nitrogen fixation, Phosphate , Zinc and Silicate mobilization, Hydrogen cyanide , Indole-3-acetic acid, Chitinase and Siderophore production.

The seed germination attributes increased significantly when the eight multifunctional out 54 rhizobacterial isolates were applied on rice seeds. Thus it can be summarized that the isolated multifunctional PGPR strains may have potential to be used as successful bio inoculants for Rice crop.

Project Title: Factors Affecting the Variation in the Number of Nests in Breeding Colonies of the Baya Weaver Bird (Ploceus philippinus)
Name of the Student: Akshay Rao


The Baya Weaverbird, a colonial nester, is a commonly found Plocein that has been studied by several authors through the years. Though its life history and breeding behavior has been well documented, relatively few studies have been conducted on their colony dynamics. In this study, we have tried to establish the factors that affect the variation in the number of nests found in breeding colonies of Baya Weaverbirds and have attempted to correlate various tree parameters (height, girth, canopy size, etc.) and habitat aspects (amount of land covered by fields, grasslands, human habitation, etc.) to the number of nests using univariate as well as multiple linear regression.

We found that the number of nests was significantly correlated with tree height and girth. No significant correlations were found to canopy size. We also found seemingly counter-logical correlations between habitat parameters and number of nests. Strong positive correlations were found between number of nests and amount of barren land while none were found between number of nests and fields or grasslands. The number of nests was negatively correlated with human habitation. Further, multiple regression revealed that the number of nests depended more on the characteristics of the tree than on those of the surrounding habitat.

Project Title: Ecological Study of Selected Species of Epiphytic Orchids from Northern Western Ghats of Maharashtra
Name of the students: Manali Ekatpure


The biodiversity of Western Ghats is among the richest in the world – one among the 34 hotspots .The flora and fauna also represents some of the most highly threatened forms in the world, as a result of continuing loss of habitat, fragmentation and expanding human population and activities. We studied pattern of occurrence of the epiphytic orchids with respect to site characteristics and host conditions in Northern Western Ghats of Maharashtra. There is a correlation between microclimatic condition of habitat and orchids to a certain degree. We analyze bark roughness, canopy cover, host preference, site of occurrence on host tree, moisture content in air etc. Our results indicated that many epiphytic orchids prefer rough barked host trees with less canopy cover and recorded more near riparian areas. The probability to find large orchid individuals on big tree trunks were highest in forest patches and parks similarly small individuals found to prefer small tree branches. Indigenous trees were found to shelter many orchid individuals than exotic trees.

Project Title: Assessment of Ecosystem Services of Sacred Groves – A Case Study from Ghisar Village, Pune District, Maharashtra
Name of the Students: Apoorva Sahasrabudhe


Sacred groves, popularly known as Devrai in the state of Maharashtra are the traditionally protected forest patches. Although a number of scholars have studied sacred groves from Maharashtra for its biodiversity and socio – religious aspects, studies on ecosystem services provided by these groves are lacking. We studied three groves from the vicinity of the Ghisar village, Pune district for assessing Biodiversity as supporting service, NTFP as provisioning service, Carbon sequestration as regulating service and Cultural services. Selection was based on three parameters namely the size, management and level of disturbance.

A total of 116 plants, 37 birds, 8 butterflies and 7 mammal species were recorded from the Jugai Sacred grove area. We encountered 9 species endemic to Western ghats and 4 RET plant species. 30 % of the total recorded plant species had human utility value (NTFP, Medicinal and Wild edible). The association of the villagers with the sacred grove institution was studied in the form of folklores, taboos, customs, community participation, code of conduct and norms of behaviour. Change in belief system and its likely impact on the existence of the grove was also explored and discussed. Study also emphasizes the need for integration of traditional knowledge and ecosystem service approach for long term sustenance of these treasure houses.

Project Title: Distribution of Avifauna across Landscape Elements: A Case Study from Amboli, Sindhudurg, Maharashtra
Name of the student: Priti Bangal


Species diversity and distribution change depending on various biotic and abiotic factors, one of them being habitats. These habitats are sub-units of landscape elements (LSEs). We conducted a study of the avifaunal diversity in accordance with landscape elements in Amboli, Maharashtra, India during December 2012 – March 2013. Birds were counted using strip transects of equal area across five LSEs viz. dense forest, scrubland, plantation, agriculture and human habitation. A total of 113 species spread across 44 families were recorded during the study period.659 individuals altogether were seen on 27 transects across all the LSEs. The species abundance data was rarefied and fitted to Michaelis-Menten equation to predict expected number of species. It was found to be 156 spread across all the LSEs. Canopy cover, vegetation density, woody plant species richness and its evergreen proportion were studied as habitat attributes. Unlike vegetation density, the canopy cover and the evergreen proportion of woody plants are seen to have an effect on the distribution of the bird species. The bird and woody plant species richness did not show any correlation (r = 0.0118). LSE under human habitation was found to support maximum number of species, most of which were habitat generalists. Closed canopy evergreen forest was found to be moderately diverse, but it supported 5 endemic species, and habitat specialists. Feeding habits of the birds were recorded opportunistically and supplemented with secondary data. It was found that the insectivorous birds are dominant across the LSEs, followed by frugivorous species. The study reveals that the closed canopy forests in Amboli are unique ecosystems, supporting a number of endemic and threatened taxa. This calls for conservation of the LSE, considering its fragmentation across Amboli.

Project title: Tritrophic interactions between Cicer arietinum-Helicoverpa armigera-Chelonus blackburnii
Name of the Student: Maitreyee Mujumdar


Tritrophic interactions between agricultural crop (Cicer arietinum) – herbivorous insect pest (Helicoverpa armigera) and parasitoids (Chelonus blackburnii) could be utilized successfully in bio control programs in agricultural fields. Volatile chemicals emitted by plants play a major role in mediating such interactions. The study was under taken to identify volatile chemicals which could increase the efficiency of egg- larval parasitoid Chelonus Blackburnii in locating the host. Volatile profiles of damaged (infested) and undamaged chickpea cultivars (ICC 3137 and ICC 506 EB) varying in the level of resistance against Helioverpa armigera were isolated. Differences were observed during day and night time volatile collections of both damaged and undamaged chickpea plants. Increase in the total emission of volatiles was observed in damaged (infested) chickpea plants. Response of Chelonus blackburnii to these volatiles were observed using GC-EAD technique. The external morphology of Chelonus blackburnii using SEM revealed presence of two olfactory sensilla, sensilla trichodea and sensilla placodea. The olfactory responses of Chelonus blackburnii to 38 commonly found plant volatiles were obtained and differences in response to individual plant compounds were observed. The highest response was caused by Limonene. Among chemical classes the highest response was obtained for oxygenated monoterpenes. The wide spectrum of response of Chelonus blackburnii to wide group of chemicals belonging to different chemical classes though varying suggests that using plant information enhances its parasitization efficiency.

Project Title: Demographic profile and regeneration status of endemic woody species from Kalkai sacred grove, Raigarh, Maharashtra
Name of the Student: Archana Patil


The present study focuses on the study of demographic profile and regeneration status of woody species, especially endemic woody species from Kalkai sacred grove. Inside the sacred grove 22 species of woody plants were recorded and outside the sacred grove 26 species were recorded. It was seen that 81% of the tree population from the sacred grove was composed of endemic woody species with some threatened individuals. Species richness was more outside the sacred grove as compared to in the sacred grove but number of endemics was low. The probable reason for this may be the increasing level of tourism and pilgrimage in the sacred grove. Regeneration of endemic species was more in the sacred grove due to favourable microclimatic conditions and some new arrivals of tree species to the sacred grove were noted. During biodiversity assessment of the sacred grove, 23 bird species, 39 butterfly species and 15 odonata species were recorded.

Masters Dissertations – 2012

Project Title: In vitro Micropropagation of Stevia ambrosia.
Name of the student: Sayalee Sanjeev Narkhede.


Stevia ambrosia belonging to the family Asteraceae is one of the most valuable tropical medicinal herbs known for its non-caloric and antidiabetic properties, due to the presence of sweet crystalline steviol glycosides (Steviosides) produced in leaves as secondary metabolites. Pure extract stevioside is 300-400 times sweeter than sugar (sucrose) and its content is higher in leaves. It has multipurpose uses for humans .However, it has very low seed viability and germination rate. Even other propagation methods such as stem cutting and vegetative propagation if used, then these tend to be slow and impractical when carried out on a large scale for propagation of selected elite individuals. Present study deals with an n experiment, conducted on in vitro culture of Stevia ambrosia, an important sweetening herb to explore its potential for micropropagation by using nodes and leaf as explants. Plants were collected from a green house near Talegaon, Pune. Explants were inoculated on Murashige and Skoog medium (MS) supplemented with different concentrations of growth hormones such as BAP (6- enzylaminopurine), Dichlorophenoxy Acetic Acid (2, 4-D) and Kinetin. Explants inoculated on MS medium with BAP (0.5 mg/l) showed shoot formation within 6 days and multiple shooting within 2 weeks (3-9). Even lengths of shoots were observed maximum with an average of 3.22. Two cytokinins BAP and Kn were also used in combination to observe its effect on shoot proliferation. Remarkably BAP (0.5) + Kn (1.0) were founded as best combination for maximum growth length of shoots. While, MS supplemented with BAP (2.0) + Kn (0.5) resulted profuse multiple shooting. The effects of different treatments of hormones and their concentration were significantly different in terms of number of shoots or length of shoots per explants. Indirect regeneration of shoots through callus formation using leaf as explants was also carried out. But, callusing could not be formed due to flaws in maintaining aseptic conditions. By using the method described in this report, hundreds of clonal plants can be produced from one nodal explant by continuous sub culturing shoot propagules. The shoot multiples that was achieved was not significantly large to be commercially significant, but my results provide a basis for further research in micropropagation in Stevia ambrosia.

Project Title:
Name of the student: Aruna Kadam


In current study five different ecogeographical locations namely Bhimashankar, Borivali National Park, Savantwadi, Dapoli, Melghat were collected of H. isora fruit sample with respect to the longitude, latitude, altitude, Temperature and average rainfall. Establishment of Axenic culture of H. isora is obtained by acid treatment for breaking seed dormancy. The 5 min of exposure to concentrated H2SO4 showed better germination rate. Therefore 5 min acid treated seeds are used for further establishment. Rate of germination was found to be different for different ecotypes. Sample from Bhimashankar showing early germination i. e. within 5 days as compared to others which varies from 15 to 25 days. Successful genetic transformation resulted into the formation of hairy roots from various explants, which revealed that the Ri plasmid of the Agrobacterium rhizogenes integrated with that of the plant cell. Among the two cultures ATCC 15834 and GY2260 of Argobacterium rhizogenes, Tranformation efficiency of ATCC 15834 is more than GY2260. Results of callus induction from nodal explants shows that all the plant growth regulators used in the study induced varying levels of callus. Maximum with granular yellow (GY) callus was obtained on MS + BAP 3 mg/lit medium. The results indicated that a maximum diosgenin was recorded in callus obtained from nodal explant on MS+BAP 3 mg/lit (0.48%) and in hairy roots induced grown on MS +IAA 0.3 mg/lit (0.55%). The results of diosgenin determination by spectrophotometry method clearly indicates that variation in ecogeographical regions secondary metabolite production in medicinal plants. Though sample purchased from shop 2 showed maximum diosgenin, it contains mixture of sample collected from various regions. Therefore that cannot be considered as elite ecotype. From remaining samples collected from different regions Melghat sample can be considered as elite ecotype as comparably it contain more diosgenin. Results showed that seeds contain more diosgenin percentage than other plant parts. Earlier report published by Barik et al., 1981 .obtain 0.33% diosgenin from seeds. The extracts of fruit sample obtained were 0.53% in chloroform, 1.56% in Methanol and23.31% in water. All the extracts were tested for its antimicrobial activity. Methanol extract found to be better than chloroform extract showing antimicrobial activity against Proteus 200, 400, 600 ug /ml with maximum inhibition zone 10 mm, E. coli 400 and 600 ug /ml with maximum inhibition zone 7 mm Shigella at 600 ug /ml with maximum inhibition zone 9 mm, Salmonella at 600 ug /ml with maximum inhibition zone.

Project Title: Study of Butterfly diversity and variations in nectar volumes of some flower species in and around Pune.
Name of the student: Shweta Mujumdar


Butterflies are organisms very sensitive to climatic change. In urban landscapes the few remaining green pockets support these butterfly population. The present study looked at the butterfly diversity, nectar plant choices, variations in feeding height of butterflies on two hill forests i.e. ARAI Hill and Taljai Hill situated in the Pune city, Maharashtra. This study also looked at the nectar volume variations of some flowering species visited by butterflies. In all, 53 butterfly species were recorded on both the study sites. Some butterfly species were present on both the hill forests while some species were present exclusively at a single study site. Butterflies with longer wingspan feed at a higher height than the butterflies with shorter wingspan. Yellow was the most visited flower colour by the butterflies. Clustered flowers recorded maximum visits as compared to solitary flowers by butterflies for feeding. Flowers of herbaceous and shrub species recorded maximum visits at ARAI and Taljai Hill respectively. Large variations in the volumes of nectar of the same species at two entirely different habitats were observed. This study helped in identifying the important plant resources for the butterflies in the study area. There is a need to conserve such habitats and such studies can be used in the planning of urban landscapes.

Project Title: Environmental and human influenced feeding behaviour of Hanuman Langurs (Semnopithecus dussimeri) in and around Pune City.
Name of the student: Mukta Mahajan


The Pune city (18°31’N, 73°51’E) is surrounded by hills on the east and the south. The major-forested areas of the Pune region include Katraj ghat and Sinhagad valley which consist of deciduous plant species and act as home for langurs. Abundant food and water resources, safety in terms of predation and minimum human interference influence their presence in these forests. The feeding habits of Hanuman Langur (Semnopithecus dussimeri) are studied to see the seasonal variation in their diet and their dependency on native as well as exotic plant species. 50 plant species were reported as their food plants from Pune, out of which 13 species were new additions to their diet list in Maharashtra and 5 were found to be exotic plant species. Phenological records show marked seasonality in resource abundance, with low availability in winter and increasing abundance in summer and monsoon. This study shows that, as season advances from monsoon to summer, their day range size increases. This study also suggests that the availability of provisioned food (hand-outs laid by humans) determine the day range size of langurs.

Project Title: Research on and Identification of lesser known two cattle breeds and their relevance to villagers in three districts around Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve. (Chandrapur, Gadchroli and Gondia).
Name of the Student: Sajal. S.P. Kulkarni.


India has a rich diversity of cattle, buffalo, sheep and goat breeds, The country is endowed with large genetic variability in most of the important domestic livestock species as is reflected by a number of described breeds and strains. Currently there are 32 described breeds of cattle, 12 buffalo, 40 sheep, 20 goat, 4 camel and 6 horse, 3 pig and 18 poultry breeds (National Bureau of Animal Genetic Resources Karnal, Haryana.). Although there are recognised breeds are well established and having their importance in agricultural systems in their breeding tract, there are other types of cattle varieties which are referred as Non- escript(N.D.) means not recognised as well as defined and generally kept by tribal, pastoralists and marginal farmers. These are mainly local having large phenotypic diversity and having large population size. But there is not a single study undertook to study the potential of these N.D. cattle. Therefore an attempt has been made to study and document phenotypic characteristics of these N.D cattle and documentation of some ethno veterinary practices with some traditional knowledge of tribal people of three districts namely Chandrapur, Gadchiroli and Gondia of Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.

Project Title: Study of roost sites of Pteropus giganteus (Indian Flying fox) in Pune city.
Name of the students: Manali B Rane


Pteropus giganteus is a Frugivorous bat. It is a commensal of man and roosts communally on trees during the daytime. In the present study, the roost sites of these bats in and around Pune city were explored. These bats were found to roost on many different tree species which were both exotic and native. The use of trees to roost on within a colony has been observed to change with time. The spatial positions of the trees with respect to other tree, water body and disturbance factors together probably cause the change observed in the roost site.

Project Title: Study of Freshwater Crabs and Prawns (Arthropoda: Crustacea: Decapoda) of Krishna River at Sangli and Wai, Maharashtra.
Name of the Students: Durga Thigale


Decapoda is highly evolved and the largest order of Crustacea. Crabs and prawns are ecologically important decapods. The taxonomic literature for crabs and prawns is very scattered and in many cases ambiguous. In current study, an attempt is made to identify crabs and prawns species occurring in Krishna River (Wai & Sangli), using morphological characters and genetic marker. Two sequences will be submitted to Genbank. The study also focuses on crab and prawn fishery at both the study areas.

Project Title: Studies on Estimation of Nectar quality and Diversity of Butterflies in and around Pune City.
Name of the student: Vidya Ramchandra Kudale.


India is well known for butterfly diversity with around 1500 species in various climatic conditions and different types of forest covers. They play a big role in pollinating flowers by visiting them frequently. Flowers inturn may or may not reward them with nectar. To interpret the foraging behaviour of butterflies, nectar plays an important role. Present study aimed, to estimate average nectar quantity per flower of the available plant species and identification of the basic constituents of nectar along with diversity of butterflies in and around Pune city. Total 66 Butterfly species were seen on the hills from which 32 were seen on ARAI hill and 34 species were seen on Parvati Pachgaon hill. Seasonal variation was observed in the study period on both the sites. Total 59 butterfly species were seen feeding on 15 plant species on ARAI hill and 53 butterfly species were observed feeding on only 5 plant species which is present on Parvati Pachgaon hill, in the duration of six months. Estimation of average nectar quantity per flower was calculated for 8 plant species and out of this nectar was analyzed from 3 plant species. After HPLC analysis, these species mainly shows presence of carbohydrates i.e. Glucose, Fructose and Sucrose. Nectar plant species which serve as a food sources for them, are have to conserve since they play a vital role as a main energy source and in the diet which is needed for maintaining their fitness as well as for egg production in females.

Project title: Studies on seed biology and reproductive ecology of Saraca asoca (Roxb.) de Wilde from northern Western Ghats of Maharashtra.
Name of the Student: Mridul Suresh Kashelkar


Saraca asoca (Roxb.) de Wilde is an IUCN red listed (Endangered) important medicinal tree species that has deep cultural values in India. The populations of S.asoca are restricted to few evergreen patches of Western Ghats and are facing high anthropogenic pressures like bark harvesting and habitat destruction. S.asoca is considered as a flagship species for conservation, however no concerted studies focusing on S.asoca are being taken in northern Western Ghats. The present study looked into seed biology and reproductive ecology of this species at selected locations in Maharashtra. Out of three seed weight classes, seeds with high weight (>8 g) showed highest shoot and root length, high quality index of seedlings and also seedlings were more sturdy whereas seeds with low weight (2-5 g) showed lowest shoot and root length, low quality index and less sturdy. Germination percentage was significantly affected by storing seeds at both low temperature and room temperautre. Storing seeds for longer time resulted in low germination percentage. Out of 470 flowers sampled from natural population of Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary, 13% were bisexual flowers (functional gynoecium) and 87% were male flowers (rudimentary gynoecium) whereas out of 300 flowers sampled from cultivated individuals, 95% were bisexual and 5 % were male flowers. Cultivated individuals were found to be most suited for reproduction by seeds as compared to natural populations. Total 70 saplings were planted under cultivation zone at Shilimb. 72% survival was observed after one year of introduction. Within two years average increase in collar diameter was 17mm while that of shoot length was 89 cm. Thus, S.asoca could be the good species for cultivation as it shows such a luxuriant growth with respect to collar diameter and shoot length.

Project Title: Nesting of the Gharial (Gavialis gangeticus): A study of select abiotic factors in the time period prior to and during onset of nesting.
Name of the Student: Suyash Katdare


The Gharial is a Critically Endangered reptile endemic to the Indian sub-continent with a shrinking distribution. The Chambal rive is the last stronghold for the species in the wild. Data on the effects of abiotic factors, anthropogenic influence on the habitat use and ecology are not comprehensive or updated and in some aspects not available. Studies have been done on broader aspects of the nesting ecology of gharials. My project was a micro level study aimed at finding out why a gharial chooses a specific spot on a nesting island. Gharials being reptiles are dependent on temperature for the success of the nest, embryo development and sex determination. Findings of my study indicate that sand particle size of the nesting beach is one of the deciding factors for the gharial. However along with the ecological factors, there are several evolutionary hypotheses also that justify the site selection phenomenon in various taxa and could be applicable to the gharials also.

Project Title: Ecology of Nepenthes khasiana in South Garo Hills: A study of habitat, associated organisms and trap morphology
Name of the student: Anupriya Karippadath


Nepenthes khasiana is a species of carnivorous pitcher plant(CPP) endemic to the state of Meghalaya in India. Though it is the only CPP found in India this is, in fact, the first study to focus on ecological aspects of this plant. Pitchers or traps represent complex microecosystems interacting in various ways with associated fauna. This study also focuses on correlations and variables which may give a clue as to the nature of these interactions.

Project Title: Diet Study of Spotted Owlet (Athene brama) in Urban Area of Pune.
Name of the Student: Mugdha S. Joshi


To study the diet of Spotted Owlet Athene brama (Temminck 1821), a total 79 regurgitated pellets of Spotted Owlet, were collected opportunistically from December 2011 to March 2012. Collection of pellets was done from ten sites in the Pune, Maharashtra. Percent relative frequency of occurrence of various food remains in the pellets of the Spotted Owlet indicate that the insects (60%) occupy the most preferred position followed by reptiles (25.60%), small mammals (13.60%) and arachnids (0.80%). Three orders of insect preys namely, Coleoptera (Beetles), Hemiptera (Bugs), Orthoptera (Grasshoppers) were present in the food of the Spotted Owlet. Beetles were preyed most heavily among the insects. Small mammals namely Mus booduga, Mus musculus and unidentified Mus species were identified upto family level (Family: Muridae). Reptile, probably garden lizard was found in pellets. Remnants of Order Scorpiones were found at one study site. Some pieces of plastic and rubber were also found in the pellets. 14 pellets of Barn Owl were also analyzed during study period for general observation as they are camp followers of Spotted Owlet. Percent relative frequency showed that small mammals namely Suncus murinus (House shrew) and Rattus rattus (House rat) were eaten more frequently by Barn Owl. This study provides baseline data that can be used in future conservation efforts for this species.

Masters Dissertations – 2011

Project Title: Study of Ant species diversity across different habitats in and around Pune city and preparation of a comprehensive Pictorial key for identification
Name of the student: Mr. Rohan Joshi


Last few years have seen major advance in ant taxonomy, but huge gaps still remain in our ability to identify ant species. This is true, especially in case of India where local species diversity of ants is still unknown to a large extent. In this study, an attempt is made to identify and document ant species occurring around Pune city. An identification key is prepared for 21 genera and 34 species of ants recorded during the study. The key is provided with detailed taxonomic drawings which were created using Adobe Illustrator CS4

Project Title: Assessment and documentation of Heteropteran bugs in and around Pune city
Name of the student: Mr. Girish Pathak


Heteropteran members or true bugs considered to be one of the most diverse groups of insects with approximately 75 families distributed all over the world. They are well known as pest for crops, medicinal plants etc. causing much more damage than any other insects but still less studied group. Current study took place at 5 study sites in and around Pune city over period June 10 - March 11 focusing on documenting 30 commonly observed species and lifecycles of three bugs. This attempt might be helpful for future studies on conservation model and controlling damage caused by these species.

Project Title: Habitat use and seasonal distribution of Odonata in Pune region
Name of the student: Ms. Aboli Kulkarni


Anthropogenic modifications of the freshwater habitata have resulted in degradation of riverine ecosystems and loss of freshwater biodiversity all over the world. Scientific information on diversity and distribution of various taxa in habitat is the key to biodiversity conservation, especially of little known taxa such as Odonata since they are differentially sensitive to ecosystem health. Current investigation is aimed to generate a baseline data on habitat use and seasonal variation of Odonata across different riparian land use types in upper catchments of Bhima river between Tamhini Reserve Forests (18° 26’48.09’’ N & 73° 25’ 50.56’’ E) to Ujani Wetland (18° 17’ 48.13’’ N & 74 45’ 30.93’’ E) in Maharashtra. A total of 46 species and 609 individuals were recorded from the study area. Difference in the species composition across land use types and seasons were observed.

Project Title: Cultivation and Reintroduction of two important plant species viz. Nothapodytes nimmoniana and Canarium strictum
Name of the student: Mr. Ashutosh Joshi


Various plant species possessing medicinal properties are facing indiscriminate harvesting; endangering natural population. Conserving such species is priority today. We cultivated Nothapodytes nimmoniana saplings in plots, measured growth & percentage survival for 2 years, across 3 different agroclimatic zones and got more than 70% of survival in all 3 locations. For reintroduction approach, we planted 20 nursery grown Canarium strictum saplings in Manoli forest, recorded growth & survival for 1 year. Saplings after 1 year showed good growth & 90% survival; indicating successful establishment in wild. Both studies were preliminary but successful as pilot step for conservation which can be used as model for conserving other RET species.

Project Title: Standardization of methodology for isolation and characterization of diverse wild type strains of Yarrowia lipolytica
Name of the Student: Ms. Sneha Bhide & Madhura Thakar


Yarrowia lipolytica is a fungus that degrades hydrophobic substrates efficiently. It is able to utilize n-parrafins and triglycerides on account of its ability to produce enzymes such as oxygenases and lipases. Y. lipolytica has several biotechnological applications. It has been used in treatment of wastes, bioremediation of hydrocarbon contaminated soils and biotransformation of economically important products. The present study highlights the diversity with respect to Y. lipolytica in and around Pune. The study includes standardization of methodology for isolation and characterization of diverse wild type strains of Y. lipolytica. To the best of our knowledge, there are no studies on the diversity of this non- conventional yeast in the Indian context. Samples from various sites and environmental conditions were collected and used for the isolation procedures. These were enriched in Yeast Nitrogen Base medium supplemented with oil/ n- hexadecane and the yeasts were isolated on MGYP medium (Malt extract Glucose Yeast extract Peptone). In all, 29 hydrophobic substrate degrading yeast isolates were obtained. These were tested for their ability to assimilate sugars and not ferment them (a characteristic typical for Y. lipolytica). 5 isolates assimilated glucose without fermenting it. These isolates were further characterized by the RAPD technique and the patterns were documented. 18s rRNA sequencing technique was used for the confirmation of the isolates. 3 isolates were confirmed as strains of Y. lipolytica. The three newly isolated and identified strains were studied to determine their emulsification abilities.

Project Title: Nectar plant choices of butterflies in Bhamburda Vanvihar (Hill Forest), Pune City, Maharashtra
Name of the students: Ms. Prachi Mhaske, Ms. Kruti Chhaya & Ms. Neha Mujumdar


Nectar is an important food source of butterflies in adult stage. Studies related to their nectar plant choices and season wise abundance of a particular region have been very few in India. In present study 75 butterfly species were recorded by line transect on a hill forest in Pune city (18°31’31”N and 73°48’55”E). In opportunistic sampling, 49 butterfly species visited 40 nectar plant species. No relation was found between proboscis length of butterfly and corolla depth of flower among 23 measured species of both. Such studies on nectar sources of butterflies and factors influencing them can help in planning of urban landscapes.

Project Title: Micropropagation of Ophiorrhiza rugosa var. prostrata (D.Don) Deb and Mondal known for production of Camptothecin an anticancerous alkaloid
Name of the Students: Mr. Nilesh Rokade & Ms. Priyanka Kadam


Ophiorrhiza rugosa var. prostrata is a rare herb and has low seed viability and germination. Healthy explants were inoculated on Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium supplemented with various plant growth regulators. Inflorescence stalk showed multiple shoots formation which was reported first time. More than 100 multiple shoots were observed. In transformation experiment hairy roots were observed. In elicitation experiment Aspergillus niger leach out was used for CPT enhancement. Preliminary hardening was successful. Estimation of CPT concentration in wild as well as in in-vitro plants was done using HPLC. This methodology can be utilized for conservation purpose and can also fulfill the CPT demand on large scale.

Project Title: Camptothecin variation across plant parts & habitats of Nothapodytes nimmoniana (Graham) Mabb. from Northern Western Ghats, India.
Name of the student: Ms. Nikita Parab


Camptothecin is one of the most important anticancer drugs which exhibit antitumor activity due to its inhibitory action to DNA Topoisomerase I. Nothapodytes nimmoniana (Syn. Mappia foetida; Icacinaceae) is commercially used to obtain camptothecin for large scale isolation due to which it is listed under endangered category in Maharashtra. Hence, conserving this medicinal plant seems an important step to meet demand of pharmaceutical industries and to save their natural population. Present study reveals the variation of camptothecin across seasons and locations in saplings, effect of canopy, coppicing, soil content and location among natural population from Northern Western Ghats to develop good cultivation practices. Plant parts such as bark, leaves and seeds were collected from natural population at Amboli and Mahabaleshwar, and from saplings planted at two different agro climatic zones (Shilim and Waghapur). In regards to canopy cover, camptothecin content was higher under canopy than open area. However, the effect of coppicing on individuals was not significant may be due to low sample size. Camptothecin content was higher in the individuals at Amboli than that of Mahabaleshwar. Similarly, saplings at Shlim showed higher concentration than that of Waghapur. The probable reason may be the higher nitrogen content in the soil of Amboli and Shilim than Mahabaleshwar and Waghapur respectively. The saplings also showed difference in camptothecin levels across two seasons. Bark samples collected in March, 2010 showed higher camptothecin than collected in October, 2010. Therefore, the species can be cultivated under different agroforestry systems which will provide shade to the plant and harvesting period can be defined. Similarly, the farmers can be promoted from the locations falling under similar kind of agro climatic zones which support high levels of camptothecin.

Project title: Distribution, Microhabitat use and Relative abundance of 3 saurian families (Agamidae, Scincidae, Gekkonidae) in the Sinhgad fort area, Pune, Maharashtra
Name of the Student: Mr. Pratik Purohit


The state of Maharashtra is famous for its rich history, especially during the Maratha Kingdom. There are nearly 350 forts in the state and most of these have been constructed around 400 years ago. Fort supports various habitats viz. scrubland, forest (Dry deciduous) and rocky habitat. 52 reptile species are reported from Pune of which 19 are “Saurids”. Present project was undertaken to study distribution, microhabitat use and relative abundance. 3 families of Saurids viz. Agamidae, Gekkonidae, and Scincidae which are commonly found in study area have been studied in the area of Sinhgad fort. Following observations are part of 1 year study (June ’10 – April ‘11). Total 249 individuals of 6 species observed belonging to Agamidae (n=54), Scincidae (n=39) and Gekkonidae (n=156) families. Out of 249 individuals; Leaves - Grass (19%), Bark - Bushes (16%) and Rocks (65%) were used as microhabitat substrates by individuals. Habitat heterogeneity plays important role in distribution of Saurids. Substrates such as Leaves - Grass, Bark - Bushes and Rock provide good microhabitats within area and are significant for activity, distribution and abundance of Saurids. Although this fort has not been protected by any government laws and open access to people in all parts of fort is allowed, it still supports and maintains good Saurian diversity.

Project Title: Assessment of spider diversity of Pune and conservation aspects based on relative abundance
Name of the Student: Mr. Mandar Kulkarni


This study was conducted during months of June 2010- March 2011 at four different study sites viz. Sinhagad, Tekdi areas, City area and Bapdev Ghat. Which resulted in record of 69 species belonging to 51 genera and 23 families in mentioned study sites. Sinhagad shows high species diversity that other areas. The study resulted in 7 interesting (either new to science or to India) species, One range extension report and one rediscovery from type locality.

Project Title: Nest Site selection in House Crow (Corvus splendens) in Pune City
Name of the student: Mr. Gaurav Nalkur


The population of House Crow (Corvus splendens) is increasing all over the world, mainly due to urbanization. An important factor in its ability to conquer any urban habitat is its breeding success. Nest site selection, which can almost directly relate to its breeding success, is the focus of this investigation. 110 nests were located throughout Pune city between August 2010 and April 2011. Data was collected relating to the host trees and availability of “mass food sources”. This data was further analyzed to check whether any trends are seen in any of the factors considered.

Project Title: Study of diversity and distribution of termites in different habitats around Pune
Name of the Student: Mr. Pramod Shitole


The world of Termite little unattended not easily found to eyes, hiding itself under layers of soil it runs the biggest underground industry. We will astonished to think about their abundance these insects are playing important role in the ecosystem in decomposition of large amount of plant material and help in maintaining soil structure thus these dominant arthropods are of great ecological as well as economical importance.
The main objective was to document and study the ecological importance of termites in three different forest types which are Scrubland (Bapdeo ghat), Dry deciduous (Sinhagad), Semi evergreen (Tamhini). Out of 83 specimens studied from 3 sites I encountered 8 species of termites, then preparation of identification keys to the species of termites and photographic plates of full body part and dissected mandibles were taken with the aid of inbuilt camera of stereoscopic microscope. Overall this is the part of my M.Sc. Project.

Project Title: A study of avifaunal diversity with respect to four habitats at Fort Panhala, Maharashtra, India
Name of the Student: Ms. Manali Pawar


Biological indicators are species which are sensitive to a human-caused change in their environment. Birds have been considered useful biological indicators because they are ecologically versatile and live in all kinds of habitats as herbivores, carnivores and omnivores. The richness and composition of a forests avifauna can give an indication of its overall value for conservation of biological diversity. Considering this, a study on avifaunal diversity was carried out at Fort Panhala, Maharashtra, India. A detailed checklist of birds with respect to the family they belong and according to the feeding guilds (frugivore, nectarinivore, insectivore, predator and omnivore) was obtained. The study was carried out in four different habitats using line transect and point count method. In all 96 species from 48 different families were encountered during the course of study. 48% of birds were frugivores followed by insectivores. This Bird monitoring program will serve as “early warning” system and the database generated will provide a baseline for studying the effect of urbanization on birds.

Masters Dissertations – 2010

Project Title: Developmental biology and social interactions in Myxobacteria
Name of the student: Sandhya Ramasubramony


It was unusual to see fruiting bodies of different Myxobacteria on the same territory in natural environment. We were thus, interested to see how they would react with each other when they were grown on a limited environment with limited nutrients. Here, we tried to study their development and their interactions with each other when grown together in a particular concentration. We studied interactions between Cystobacter and Myxococcus xanthus. We found that, both of them were affected by each other, but the rate at which they were affected was different. As the frequency of Myxococcus xanthus increased, there was an exponential decrease in the frequency of Cystobacter. It was also seen that, though, there was decrease in the size of the sporangium of Cystobacter, there was no predictable decrease in the size of their sporangioles. But this was not seen in Myxococcus xanthus. The size of Myxococcus xanthus did not show any significant change with increase in Cystobacter. From this work, we could conclude that, Myxococcus xanthus was a better competent than Cystobacter.

Project Title: DNA barcoding of some Moth species around Pune
Name of the student: Aditi Kale


The project aimed at Barcoding some moth specimens collected around Pune in order to build a databank. Moths mostly belonging to Macrolepidoptera were collected. The specimens, collected around Pune, represent species from the Western Ghats which harbour a rich diversity of Lepidoptera. NJ clustering analysis showed separate node for each species. 13 specimens showed matches up to species level, 33 up to genus level and 37 up to Family level using BOLD. This small initiative will help in adding more DNA sequences from India to the international database.

Project Title: ISSR based Genetic Diversity Analysis and Population Structure of Saraca asoca (Roxb.) de Willd in Northern Western Ghats, Maharashtra.
Name of the student: Prerna Agarwal


Saraca asoca (Roxb.) de Willd is an IUCN red listed important medicinal tree species that has deep cultural values in India. The populations of S.asoca are restricted to few evergreen patches of Western Ghats and are facing high anthropogenic pressures like bark harvesting and habitat destruction. S.asoca is considered as a flagship species for conservation, however no concerted studies focusing on S.asoca are being taken in Northern Western Ghats. The present study looked into the demographic profile, regeneration pattern and genetic structure (using ISSR markers) of this species at selected locations in Maharashtra. Out of the four study populations, natural population of S.asoca at Phansad Wildlife Sanctuary showed typical reverse J shaped population structure both for demographic and regeneration pattern, whereas Karlai Sacred Grove and Dhopeshwar Sacred Grove recorded skewed population structure. Tillari Reserve Forest did not show reverse J shaped curve for regeneration pattern. The genomic DNA extraction protocol using young leaf tissue of S.asoca was standardized as previously reported protocol did not work successfully in our laboratory. Out of twenty ISSR primers screened, thirteen showed polymorphism. AMOVA results revealed that within population variation (84.31%) was very high in S.asoca populations compared to among population variation (15.69%). Karlai SG was found to be genetically most diverse compared to Phansad WLS and Tillari RF. Immediate protection is needed at Karlai SG to restore population structure and conserve the genetic diversity. This species can be effectively conserved by habitat protection and creation of forest gene banks.

Project Title: Diversity and Systematics of Flesh flies (Sarcophaga spp.) in Pune city
Name of the student: Pracheta Rana


Abstract: Diversity of flesh flies in Pune has been studied in this project with study of systematics and behavioral observations. Flesh flies have taken under studies since 20th century in India but very few references available. Most of the work is related to taxonomy but ecological and behavioral studies are rare. Even after 1986 the flesh flies remained undiscovered in Pune city. Flesh flies have great importance in hygienic point of view. They are the vectors of many diseases as well as causes dangerous diseases like myiasis in animals, humans and can give them blood poisoning, or asymptomatic leprosy infections. They are the potential vectors of bacteria and viruses, hence their study becomes very essential for public health and hygiene. For the same project Flesh Flies collected all over the Pune by selecting different locations according to habitat and geographical directions. Collection done by keeping putrified flesh at the locations. Preservation is most important part of this project, then the species identification dependent only on male terminalia so dissection of male terminalia (genitalia) done, good picture of terminalia sent to Thomas Pape through e-mail for identification purpose. And during collection and dissection of specimens observations noted down. During this project recent diversity of flesh flies in Pune city shows six species including previous studies. More two are different but there identification has been done up to the genus and subgenus level hence total eight different species has found during studies.

Project Title: To analyse potential of local Algal species as source of Renewable Energy
Name of the student: Kalyani Kulkarni


The global economy runs on energy. An economic growth combined with a rising population and industrialization has led to a steady increase in the global energy demands. The continous use of fossil fuels is not sustainable, as they are finite, and will lead to increased emissions of green house gas (GHG). Statistics consistently show depleting natural resources of oil and it is estimated that world‟s oil resources will deplete considerably by year 2040. The present study focuses on locally available freshwater algae based biofuels as a renewable source of energy and the possibility of use of this algal species for waste water treatment.

Project Title: Biogeography study of Butterflies of Western Ghats
Name of the student: Sheetal Shelke


Globally recognized as one of the biodiversity hotspots, the Western Ghats of India is rich in fauna and flora with many species being endemic to this region. In the current study, we have focused on the distribution of butterfly species along the Western Ghats in order to understand the conservation priorities. We divided the entire Western Ghats into 14 latitude zones and studied the species diversity in each latitude zone along with habitat preferences from literature and our personal observations in the areas between 16°N to 18°N latitudes. Out of 334 species recorded from the Western Ghats, 55 species were found in all latitudinal zones, while 7 species were reported in one latitudinal zone. Further, southern Western Ghats consists of more number of species and more number of genera as compared to northern Western Ghats. Habitat wise distribution of species suggests that there are three significant clusters for habitat preference grossly separated by the level of human disturbance. Evergreen forest habitats need priority for conservation as they support 29 species endemic to the Western Ghats. Further, Western Ghats between 10°N to 11°N and 11°N to 12°N also need priority for habitat conservation due to presence of most of the Western Ghats endemic species (31 and 29 out of 33 respectively). Our study may thus help in designing and implementing strategies for butterfly conservation in the Western Ghats.

Project Title: Study of Genetic diversity within Indian Durum Wheat varieties using Microsatellite markers
Name of the student: Revatee Dhamdhere


Plant breeding is an ancient practice which aims to improve agronomically important crops and wheat is world’s foremost crop followed by Rice and Maize. Genetic diversity refers to the total number of genetic characteristics in the total genetic makeup of the species. Due to rapidly increasing population and expansion of agriculture into marginal areas, the breeding of wheat cultivars that are high yielding and stable under biotic and abiotic stresses is very important. The development of such species requires a continuous supply of new germplasm as a source of desirable genes. The primary source of such genes is cultivars, landraces as well as wild relatives of those crops, for the efficient utilization of material it is necessary to have the knowledge about genetic diversity. So genetic diversity analysis is pre-requisite for crop improvement program and also important in efficient utilization and maintenance of germplasm. Study of genetic diversity is also important for monitoring genetic erosion, conservation of crop resources etc.

Project Title: Evolution of Stealing, Guarding and Multiple Nest Building in Baya Weaverbird (Ploceus philippinus)
Name of the student: Aditya Ponkshe


Baya Weaverbird, Ploceus philippinus (Linnaeus) is a polygamous species where, in breeding season, male builds complex, elaborate nest to attract females and are used as a clue of male quality by females. It is a colonial bird and males are considered to be very territorial in nature. Single male may build more than one nest at a given time in breeding season. During the construction phase, nest of owner male is unguarded when owner leaves his territory where other male from colony intrudes for stealing of nesting material. Usually stealing is done in the absence of owner but males guard their own territories from intruders. Behaviour of guarding, stealing and building multiple nests involves benefit and cost associated with it. Though the behaviour of stealing is reported, its dynamics is still unknown. The present study attempts to give an adaptive dynamics model to study evolution of stealing behaviour with the evolution of guarding and decision about number of nests in Baya Weaverbird. We show that guarding and stealing traits can co-evolve under Darwinian selection and oscillate giving limit cycles.

Project Title: Assessment of honey bee attractant or repellent activity of foliar essential oils from Lantana camara L. variants in and near Pune
Name of the student: Sharvari Deshpande


The genus Lantana has many species complexes and L. camara is one of the most invasive alien weedy species. Variation in the foliar essential oil constituents was recently observed for the morphotypes of Lantana from North India (2009). It was, therefore, thought worthwhile to examine the constitution of the foliar essential oils from the morphotypes in a part of Central India. The diversity in chemical composition of foliar essential oils among the five L. camara variants in and near Pune was examined. The essential oils were extracted from L. camara leaves by hydrodistillation by using standard Clevenger’s apparatus and the chemical examination was carried out by Gas Chromatography- Mass Spectrometry. Identification of individual chemical compounds revealed that there is a lot of remarkable diversity in chemical constitution of the five variants of the same plant i.e. L. camara belonging to five different geographical localities. A total of 29 chemical compounds were obtained from the five samples out of which, some were common to all samples and some were variant-specific. Some of these essential oil samples were subjected to a standard bioassay to determine their attractant or repellent activity towards Indian honey bees, Apis cerana indica from a natural colony. The bioactivity of essential oil samples was checked over a range of concentrations in liquid paraffin (5 - 50mg/ml). The assay for bioactivity indicated that the L. camara essential oil samples possess ‘repellent activity’ for honey bees and the extent of repellency was shown to be varying at different concentrations for different oil samples. The data obtained were analyzed graphically and statistically, to determine the significance of the results. Beekeepers might be able to develop repellent formulations based on these findings.

Project Title: Study of Avifaunal Diversity and Activity Status on a Plateau with Wind Farms in Northern Western Ghats.
Name of the students: Rohan Pandit & Aditya Ponkshe


Western Ghats are considered as one of the biodiversity hotspots. In recent past, Northern Western Ghats plateaus are getting attention from the wind farm industries as these are situated at relatively higher altitudes and harbour wind velocities and thus, ideal locations for wind farm projects. In present study (from June 2008-May 2010) a comparative assessment of avifaunal diversity and activity status on Northern Western Ghats plateau with wind farms and surrounding hill slopes and plains was carried out. Seasonal variation in avifaunal diversity and activity status was checked by monthly visits to the study site. Diversity and activity status was assessed using Line transect and Point count methods respectively. Activity status of birds on the plateau was checked to find the % risk activity. The present study show that the avian diversity on the plateau is significantly lower (p < 0.001) than the surrounding hill slopes and plains but it does not show any significant seasonal fluctuation. Though the total activity was highest in winter, the % risk activity was lowest. Raptors flying on the plateau showed highest % risk activity.

Project Title: Study of benthic Diatom community and its relation to water quality in some lakes around Pune
Name of the Student: Joseph Salve & Aditi Kale


Diatoms have been extensively utilized, as indicators of eutrophication levels in fresh water as well as marine ecosystems. They integrate changes over environmental, spatial and temporal scales which are reflected in their community structure. The cycling of organic and inorganic nutrients is one of the important factors, under the domain of environmental parameters influencing the community structure. Different species in a community have specific optima for different nutrients, and thus the abundance of their presence can be used to infer the state of the water quality in the particular habitat. In this study, different diversity indices were used to correlate the observed community structure with some of the organic and inorganic nutrient levels for a given habitat. This was done across habitats, for all the eight lakes investigated, using multivariate analysis. The results revealed that, the levels of Sodium, TDS and Chlorides were strongly co-related with species richness, whereas the species dominance was strongly co-related with the levels of Nitrates, Temperature and pH.

Project Title: Study of Symplocos racemosa Roxb: Population Status, Trade scenario from northern Western Ghats, India
Name of the student: Ketaki Patil


The present study was carried out as a part of “Application of GIS-RS in mapping & conservation of threatened Medicinal plants species from northern Western Ghats of India”supported under joint programme of Indian Space Research Organization and University of Pune. The population status and distribution of plant species is greatly affected by biotic factors and human interference. In present study we explored the details about status and distribution of S. racemosa Roxb. on the basis of collected data in Northern Western Ghats (NWGs).