Student Projects from 2010 to 2015

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).