It is a remarkable lesson for Indian scientific community

Young Ecologists Talk and Interact (YETI), the largest student-organised academic conference on ecology and conservation, brought together over 300 students and researchers of ecology on a single platform at IIT-Guwahati here on Tuesday for a three-day-long deliberations on latest biodiversity and conservation issues.

The conference kick started with Professor S.K. Barik of North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU) putting forth his long term research on plant communities in the northeast. Delivering the first plenary lecture,Professor Barik explained in detail the impact of gaps in structuring a forest stand. He said in a fragmented landscape like northeast, it was extremely important to understand relationship between forest structure and spatial dynamics between these fragmented patches.

“This year's YETI is being organised in northeast for the first time primarily to focus upon the unique yet understudied rich biodiversity of the region,” said Subhankar Chakraborty on behalf of organisers.

In the second plenary talk, Professor Anindya Sinha of National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore talked about the social organisation of bonnet macaques and highlighted the long-term demographic and socio-ecological studies in their population in Bandipur National Park–Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary of the peninsular India. The study revealed a unique co-existence of two different social organisations in bonnet macaque. Long-term observation on several groups of monkeys in this region has also revealed the possible affect on behavioural patterns of monkeys due to provisioning of food by the tourists.

Professor Sinha described YETI as a remarkable lesson for Indian scientific community. He said that YETI being a conference organised by students for students is the kind of movement which should catch on in the country. The conference has provided the students from northeastern States, who he said have traditionally been marginalised, an opportunity to come together with other students and for the students who have come from rest of India it was fascinating to come to northeast and see plants, animals, people they have never seen before.

Apart from two plenary lectures, the first day of the conference witnessed a range of activities including, two panel discussions on open data sharing and another on biodiversity portals, two popular talks on “Conservation efforts and experience in Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary in Arunachal Pradesh” by Dr. Ramana Athreya and “A historical account of herpetofaunal research in the northeast India” by Dr. Abhijit Das.

Other programmes included four workshops and a large number of oral and poster presentations by the research scholars across the country on varied topics including forest ecosystem dynamics, ideas of open access, animal behaviour.

The workshops included dedicated sessions on basic statistics, designing questionnaire-based research with rural communities and basic conservation genetics in which about 100 students participated. The main event was student presentations, wherein participants had interactive discussions about their research with experts and their peers.

(The Hindu is the media partner for the event.)