Aparajita Datta

Scientist, Eastern Himalaya

Aparajita swati 20sidhu 20crop 20copy

PhD

Aparajita has been involved in research and conservation in Arunachal Pradesh since 1995 and a primary focus of her work has been on hornbills. Her main interests include plant–animal interactions in rainforests, understanding anthropogenic effects on wildlife, and engaging with tribal communities for conservation.

Projects

Fuelwood 20survey 201

Community engagement in Pakke

Joining hands with local people for conservation

Good 20sc 20pic1

Completed

Forests, weeds and farms

Understanding a shifting cultivation system in the Eastern Himalaya

29

Hornbill Nest Adoption Program

Saving hornbill homes with communities

Mrunal interview 20in 20mizoram

Completed

Hornbill survey across North-east India

Survey to assess the status of hornbills in five north-eastern states

Hornbill 20watch 20gallery 20page

Hornbill Watch

Citizen-science initiative celebrating Indian Hornbills

P1040483.1

Completed

Linking rural energy and conservation

Linking rural energy and nature conservation in a tribal village 

Arunachal macaque photo by kripaljyoti mazumdar

Monkey of the deep jungle

Ecology and conservation of Macaca munzala

035

Completed

Pakke Nature Information Centre

A new learning and activity centre for visitors to Pakke Tiger Reserve

Dscn1752

Completed

Plant-disperser mutualistic networks

Understanding the role of hornbills in plant-disperser networks

Turpinia 20pomifera 20seedling

Rats, seeds and rainforest trees

Plant-animal interactions: seed predation and plant demography

Flock 20of 20wreathed 20hornbills 20in 20pakke kalyan 20verma

Tracking hornbill movements and seeds

Hornbill ranging, fruit distribution and implications for seed dispersal

0

Tree phenology and hornbill breeding

Long-term monitoring of trees, hornbill nests and roosts

Publications

  • Journal Article
    In press
    Variability in gut passage times for Asian hornbills for large-seeded species 
    Sarawak Museum Forestry Journal
  • Popular Article
    2019
    Flight of the Magnificent Hornbills
    https://round.glass/sustain/the-wild/flight-magnificent-hornbills/
  • Poster
    2019
    How Hornbills Breed: Great Hornbills
    Download

    PDF, 4.96 KB

    Wreathed Hornbills poster up here: http://ncf-india.org/publications/1100

  • Poster
    2019
    How Hornbills Breed: Wreathed Hornbills
    Download

    PDF, 2.34 MB

    Great Hornbills poster up here: http://ncf-india.org/publications/1101

  • Book Chapter
    2019
    Tracking phenology in the tropics and in India: the impacts of climate change.
    Pages 45-69 In: Bhatt, JR, A. Das, and K. Shanker (eds.). Biodiversity and Climate Change: An Indian Perspective. New Delhi, India: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India.
    Download

    PDF, 839 KB

  • Journal Article
    2019
    Large frugivores matter: insights from network and seed dispersal effectiveness approaches
    Journal of Animal Ecology https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.13005
    Download

    PDF, 1.15 MB

    We evaluated the role of large avian frugivores in a plant‐disperser community by a) determining whether the plant‐disperser community was modular, with a distinct community of large frugivores (thereby highlighting their importance), b) determining relative qualitative and quantitative roles played by large‐bodied frugivores vis‐à‐vis other frugivores and c) determining impacts of large‐bodied frugivore loss on the plant‐disperser community. The study was carried at a tropical forest site in north‐east India which is part of the Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity Hotspot. We collected tree watch data (2055 h) from 46 tree species, which represented 85% of tree species that are predominantly bird‐dispersed in the area. We found that the plant‐disperser community was modular, with a distinct module of large‐seeded tree species and large frugivores. Intermediate‐sized frugivores such as barbets and bulbuls were the most connected, while large‐sized frugivores, such as hornbills and imperial‐pigeons were moderately well‐connected. Qualitative and quantitative roles played by different dispersers varied across the gradient of frugivore body size. Hornbills, the largest avian frugivores, consumed a significantly greater number of fruits and swallowed larger proportions of fruits compared to other avian groups. In comparison to similar‐sized frugivores, imperial‐pigeons fed on larger‐sized fruits, highlighting their importance for dispersal of large‐seeded plants. Under simulated extinction scenarios, larger extinction cascades weren't necessarily caused by larger frugivores, however, extinctions of certain large‐bodied frugivores (hornbills, imperial‐pigeons) caused extinction cascades. Integrating information from networks and seed dispersal effectiveness approaches enabled a better understanding of large frugivore role in a plant‐disperser community. While large‐bodied frugivores may not be playing a central role in plant‐disperser communities, they are crucial as seed dispersal service providers for large‐seeded plants. In conjunction with the reported local extinctions of large frugivores like hornbills from the south Asian region, this study's findings highlight the irreplaceable quantitative and qualitative impacts that tropical plant communities are likely to experience in the future.

  • Dataset
    2019
    Data from: Large frugivores matter: insights from network and seed dispersal effectiveness approaches
    https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m20hf10

    We evaluated the role of large avian frugivores in a plant‐disperser community by a) determining whether the plant‐disperser community was modular, with a distinct community of large frugivores (thereby highlighting their importance), b) determining relative qualitative and quantitative roles played by large‐bodied frugivores vis‐à‐vis other frugivores and c) determining impacts of large‐bodied frugivore loss on the plant‐disperser community. The study was carried at a tropical forest site in north‐east India which is part of the Eastern Himalaya Biodiversity Hotspot. We collected tree watch data (2055 h) from 46 tree species, which represented 85% of tree species that are predominantly bird‐dispersed in the area. We found that the plant‐disperser community was modular, with a distinct module of large‐seeded tree species and large frugivores. Intermediate‐sized frugivores such as barbets and bulbuls were the most connected, while large‐sized frugivores, such as hornbills and imperial‐pigeons were moderately well‐connected. Qualitative and quantitative roles played by different dispersers varied across the gradient of frugivore body size. Hornbills, the largest avian frugivores, consumed a significantly greater number of fruits and swallowed larger proportions of fruits compared to other avian groups. In comparison to similar‐sized frugivores, imperial‐pigeons fed on larger‐sized fruits, highlighting their importance for dispersal of large‐seeded plants. Under simulated extinction scenarios, larger extinction cascades weren't necessarily caused by larger frugivores, however, extinctions of certain large‐bodied frugivores (hornbills, imperial‐pigeons) caused extinction cascades. Integrating information from networks and seed dispersal effectiveness approaches enabled a better understanding of large frugivore role in a plant‐disperser community. While large‐bodied frugivores may not be playing a central role in plant‐disperser communities, they are crucial as seed dispersal service providers for large‐seeded plants. In conjunction with the reported local extinctions of large frugivores like hornbills from the south Asian region, this study's findings highlight the irreplaceable quantitative and qualitative impacts that tropical plant communities are likely to experience in the future.

  • Journal Article
    2019
    Protected areas and biodiversity conservation in India. Biol. Cons. 237: 114-124.
    Mousumi Ghosh-Harihar, Ruby An, R. Athreya, U. Borthakur, P. Chanchani, D. Chetry, Aparajita Datta, Abishek Harihar, K.K Karanth, D. Mariyam, D. Mohan, M. Onial, U. Ramakrishnan, V.V. Robin, A. Saxena, G. Shahabuddin, P. Thatte, V. Vijay, K. Wacker, V.B. Mathur, S.L. Pimm, T.D. Price
    Biological Conservation 237: 114-124.
    Download

    PDF, 1.46 MB

    Three well-supported generalizations in conservation biology are that developing tropical countries will experience the greatest biodiversity declines in the near future, they are some of the least studied areas in the world, and in these regions especially, protection requires local community support. We assess these generalizations in an evaluation of protected areas in India. The 5% of India officially protected covers most ecoregions and protected areas have been an important reason why India has suffered no documented species extinctions in the past 70 years. India has strong legislation favouring conservation, government investment focused on 50 Tiger Reserves, and government compensation schemes that facilitate local support, all of which brighten future prospects. However, many protected areas are too small to maintain a full complement of species, making connectivity and species use of buffer zones a crucial issue. Conservation success and challenges vary across regions according to their development status. In less developed areas, notably the biodiverse northeast Himalaya, protected areas maintaining the highest biodiversity result from locally-focused efforts by dedicated individuals. Across India, we demonstrate considerable opportunities to increase local income through eco- tourism. Our evaluation confirms a lack of data, increasing threats, and the importance of local support. Research on biodiversity in buffer zones, development of long-term monitoring schemes, and assessment of cash and conservation benefits from tourism are in particular need. For policy makers, two main goals should be the development of monitoring plans for‘eco-sensitive zones’around protected areas, and a strong emphasis on preserving established protected areas.

  • Popular Article
    2018
    When dams loom large: missing the big picture
    Current Conservation 11.4: 10-13.
    Download

    PDF, 2.06 MB

  • Journal Article
    2018
    Hornbill Watch: A citizen science initiative for Indian hornbills
    Aparajita Datta, Rohit Naniwadekar, Manisha Rao, Ramki Sreenivasan, Vikram Hiresavi
    Indian Birds, 14:65-70
    Download

    PDF, 18.4 MB

    Hornbills are conspicuous and well-known birds with nine species occurring in India. While several hornbill species have been studied extensively in some parts of India, there is a knowledge gap about their distribution, population size, and adaptations to rapidly changing habitats. Most research and conservation efforts are often focused on single or few species within protected areas. Hornbill Watch (henceforth, HW) is an online platform created specifically to record public sightings of hornbills from anywhere in India. The idea is to encourage birders, nature enthusiasts, and photographers to share information on hornbill presence, behaviour, and conservation-related issues. The main objective is to generate baseline information using sight records and enable long-term monitoring of these species by encouraging citizen participation. HW was launched in June 2014, and up to February 2017 had received 938 records from 430 contributors across India, from 26 States and three Union Territories. States from where most sightings were reported were Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh. Species were reported from both inside (41%), and outside Protected Areas (59%; henceforth, PA). Hornbills were reported from 70 PAs. Fifty-one records of nesting were reported for all species from inside and outside PAs, while 27 records of communal roosting were reported for some species. The data obtained thus far has yielded some useful information and insights,and has the potential for enhancing our understanding of current hornbill distribution patterns, and for identifying important sites for conservation/protection.

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