Arundhati Das

PhD Scholar, ATREE

PhD research topic
Potential impacts of climate change on biodiversity of the Western Ghats, India
Supervisor: Dr. K. S. Bawa, Founder President, ATREE, Distinguished Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA.

Research interests
Landscape ecology, community ecology, plant-animal interactions, tropical montane forests, climate change impacts, conservation planning


  • PhD Scholar, June 2008-present, ATREE, Bangalore, India. Registered at Manipal University. Completed coursework including conservation genetics, advanced statistics, quantitative ecology, plant taxonomy and geostatistics. Cumulative GPA 9.8/10.
  • Master of Environmental Management (M.E.M.), Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University, Durham, NC May 2000.
    Master's project: Effects of stand-level and landscape-level factors on breeding bird species distribution in Duke Forest.
  • BA, cum laude, May 1996, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, USA
    Major: Environmental studies with an emphasis in biology.

Professional experience

  • Senior Research Associate, ATREE, Bangalore, Dec 2002- 2005; Sep 2006-May 2008.
    Coordinated preparation of Ecosystem Profile for Western Ghats for Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund and subsequently submitted successful institutional proposal to implement CEPF conservation funding strategy in Western Ghats. Facilitation of Eco-informatics Centre; communication with donor agencies on the development and requirements of the Centre. Managed GIS lab, supervising three staff members. Conducted research on conservation planning. Organized and taught courses on GIS/RS Applications for Landscape Ecology as well as module on landscape ecology offered as part of M.Sc. and PhD degree programmes. Organized stakeholder workshop for CEPF on conservation in the Western Ghats and training workshop for niche modeling. Coordinated Social and Ecological Risk Assessment of BCRLIP project for National Tiger Authority.
  • Academic Coordinator, Wildlife Conservation Society –India Program, Bangalore, Dec 2005 – Aug 2006.
    Coordinated admissions for class of 2006-2008; played major role in preparing and conducting national entrance exam, screened applications, organized course schedule. Co-guided one student for M.Sc. dissertation.
  • Research Associate, TERI, New Delhi, Nov 2001-Nov 2002
    Organized and facilitated training programmes for State Forest Department on biodiversity conservation and ecodevelopment. Prepared proposals, conducted rapid rural assessments and field monitoring for an afforestation project. Acted as secondary member for Trade and Environment group, preparing paper for Ministry of Commerce on the relationship between the CBD and the TRIPs agreement as well as India’s proposed stand on the protection of biodiversity and associated traditional knowledge.
  • GIS Analyst, Freshwater Initiative, The Nature Conservancy, Durham, NC, U.S.A., Feb 2001- June 2001
    Provided GIS support for project delineating freshwater conservation areas in the U.S. through ecoregional conservation planning. Conducted habitat quality analysis for four river basins. Database creation, data archiving & mapping of aquatic conservation areas and results of the quality analysis. Facilitated experts workshop held to delineate areas of conservation importance.
  • Ecological Consultant, International Paper, Wilmington, NC, U.S.A., Oct 2000– Feb 2001
    Conducted field work and GIS analysis, for an ecological impact assessment project, to examine effects of commercial silvicultural management techniques on the natural vegetation and hydrology of coastal North Carolina.

Grants and honours

  • Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship for 6 months of study at University of Guelph, Canada in Feb-Aug 2012.
  • NORAGRIC Grant, Fellowship for second and third year of graduate study 2009-2011
  • ATREE_NORAGRIC Small Grant for PhD research, Jan-May 2010
  • JRS Foundation Grant, Fellowship for first year of graduate study 2008-2009
  • Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Fellowship for conservation study and summer research, 1998-2000
  • Sarah Williston Scholar. Mount Holyoke College
  • E. J. Murphy Fund grant recipient for independent research, 1996
  • Robert P. Sibley Award for English Composition, 1993

Peer-reviewed publications

  • Das, A., Krishnaswamy, J., Bawa, K.S., Kiran, M.C., Srinivas, V., Samba Kumar N., Karanth, K.U. 2006. Prioritisation of conservation areas in the Western Ghats, India. Biological Conservation 133,16-31
  • Anand, M., Leithead, M., Silva, L.C.R., Wagner, C., Ashiq, M.W., Cecile, J., Drobyshev, I., Bergeron,Y., Das, A., Bulger, C. In Press. The scientific value of the largest remaining old-growth red pine forests in North America. Biodiversity and Conservation.
  • Mukherjee, S., Krishnan, A., Tamma, K., Home, C., Navya, R., Joseph, S., Das, A., Ramakrishnan, U. 2010. Ecology Driving Genetic Variation: A Comparative Phylogeography of Jungle Cat (Felis chaus) and Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) in India. PLoS ONE 5(10): 13724.
  • Anand, M.O., Krishnaswamy, J., Das, A. 2008. Proximity to forests drives bird conservation value of shade-coffee plantations: Implications for certification. Ecological Applications v.18(7):1754-1763.
    Book chapter
  • Varghese, P., Singh, T.P., Das, A. 2003. Potential impact of climate change on forests: a case study in Uttaranchal in Environmental Threats, Vulnerability, and Adaptation; Case studies from India. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi, India.
    Other publications
  • CEPF. 2007. Ecosystem Profile; Western Ghats and Sri Lanka Biodiversity Hotspot, Western Ghats Region. Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund, Washington, DC.
  • Krishnaswamy, J., Kiran, M.C., Davande, S., Das, A., Irfan Ullah, M. 2005. Eco-climatic vegetation classification for the Western Ghats using multi-season NDVI. Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bangalore.
  • Smith R.K., P.L. Freeman, J.V. Higgins, K.S. Wheaton, T.W. Fitzhugh, K.J. Ernstrom, A.A. Das. 2002. Priority Areas for Freshwater Conservation: A Biodiversity Assessment of the Southeastern United States. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, U.S.A.