Dr. Soubadra Devy

M. Soubadra Devy

Suri Seghal Center for Conservation Science


  • B.Sc. in Applied Geography, Madras University, Chennai, India, 1986
  • M.S. in Ecology. Salim Ali School of Ecology, Pondicherry University,
    Pondicherry, India, 1990.
  • Ph.D. in Ecology, Madras University, Chennai, India, 2000.

Research interests

I 'm interested in various aspects of conservation biology and ecological interactions. My main field of research is pollination ecology of wild and cultivated plants. Particular focus is on the sustenance of plant-pollinator/animal interactions in human dominated landscapes.

Work in progress


Current research focus is to develop management plans that will maintain pollination and other biodiversity related services across human-dominated landscapes from leanings of diverse real time situations and systems. To cite a few examples, in Western Ghats I am looking at changing shade management regimes in coffee plantations and their impact on pollination services . In Sikkim Himalaya region, my student and I are evaluating the role of private forest patches lying outside the protected area in provisioning pollination services. In semi-arid landscape of Western India, my student and I are looking how drivers such as land use changes and fruit harvest can alter fruit-frugivore interactions and what are its consequences on ecosystem. In a completely contrasting situation, in the urban landscapes of Bangalore another student and I are looking at some key services provisioned by neigbourhood parks to the community. I hope to draw some general conclusions and applications from all these studies.

Countries world over have been witnessing a decline in pollinators, especially bees, which can have serious effects on pollinator-dependent crop production. This ‘pollinator crisis’ has been attributed to diseases, mismanagement and overexploitation of bees and also due to unrelenting use of pesticides. Many of these countries, having realised the importance of pollinators and have devised policies for protecting this important and irreplaceable resource. We are looking at the learnings from this experience for India in the context of developing policies for protecting the indigenous pollinators.

My geographical focus has been Kalakad –Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR ) (http://www.atree.org/ccc_agasthyamalai) where I am involved in a long term monitoring program on phenology of trees and pollinators, and vegetation dynamics in a wet evergreen forest site within the reserve. This long-term data set will help address questions about how global climate change is altering phenology and its consequences on plant-pollinators interactions. KMTR, which has been set aside for the intrinsic value of biodiversity it contains, has the largest remaining patches of rainforests, with contiguous forest canopy in Western Ghats. Forest canopies in India have not been explored for biodiversity and related processes and KMTR is an ideal setting for canopy exploration with minimal human impacts. This is the first site in India where studies are underway to look at the importance of canopy in sustaining the biodiversity (http://www.atree.org/Canopy_Soubadra).


As with most Protected areas (PAs), KMTR is embedded in a human-dominated landscape. PAs today comprise a small percentage of land area and hence it is increasingly critical that `surrounds’ or buffer should adapt practices that permit persistence of biodiversity (http://www.atree.org/newsletters/agasthya). However, this involves analysis of complex issues and suite of variables from ecological and socioeconomic perspective. Along with my colleagues, I am looking at approaches and methods that are applicable for the surrounds of KMTR. One such effort, that we have initiated is the evaluation of the country’s biggest effort to buffer protected area the ‘Ecodevelopment’ program and its implication in this area. Here we are examining if this mega project has met the conservation and the social goals for which it was intended. Building the knowledge and the stewardship of the people living in these regions is yet another important step towards the conservation of this region. The bilingual nature guide to the reserve brought out by us will serve as an important tool to achieve this some extent. ( http://www.atree.org/treasures_on_tiger_tracks).

Work experience

  • 1990-1991. Research associate: Effect of land use change on the wet forest butterfly community .Salim Ali School of Ecology and Environmental Science, Pondicherry University, Pondicherrry.
  • 1992-1993. Research Associate: Evaluation of the protected areas in Andaman Islands for butterflies based on their distribution in relation to area and habitat requirements. Salim Ali School of Ecology and Environmental Science and French Institute, Pondicherry.
  • 1994-1998. Research Associate: Integrated program on Biodiversity assessment by University of Massachusetts Boston, Tata Energy Research Institute, New Delhi, and Salim Ali School of Ecology, Pondicherry.
  • 1999-2000 Research Associate: Evaluation of Protected Areas along Western Ghats for Butterflies. Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment.


2001-2009. Fellow (consultant mode), Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment, Bangalore.

Students’ supervision

  • 2008. Savitha Swamy. Student, ATREE Ph.D program. Topic: Study of urban and peri-urban green spaces in Bangalore as socio-ecological systems for identifying mechanisms for their long term sustainability.
  • 2009. Urbashi Pradhan. Student, ATREE Ph.D program. Topic: The role of fragmented habitat outside protected area network in provisioning pollination service.
  • 2009. Chandrima Home. Topic Impacts of land use change and fruit harvest on plant-frugivore interactions and its consequences on the ecosystem of a semi-arid landscape of Western India.

Research associates

  • 2008-2010.Allwin Jesudasan – Topic: Perspectives and Attitudes of Forest Fringe Villagers Towards Forests, Forest Protection and Livelihood Based Conservation Project Bordering a Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu.
  • 2008-2009. Seshadri Iyer. Topic: The role of epiphytes in augmenting the faunal biodiversity in the canopy.
  • 2010 Jahnavi Pai. Topic: Policies for protecting the indigenous pollinators: Learnings from counties which are undergoing pollinator crisis.


The Lowell Thomas Awards presented by The Explorers Club and Rolex Watch USA,
Incop. for Discoveries in the Treetops, October 18, 2006.


  • 2010. Forest DST grant for under SAARC S&T Cooperation. Canopies as Indicators and Educators for Global Change.
  • 2009. NSF grant, Research and Education priorities in Canopy Science.
  • 2009. Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore. Support to organize the
    workshop on ‘Capacity building for canopy science research in India’. Sciences, Bangalore.
  • 2009. Karnataka State Bio-diversity Board. Support to organize canopy
    bio-diversity sessions during the 5th International Canopy Conference 2009.
  • 2009. Ms Rohini Nilekani’s grant. Support to fund the participation of
    women scientists for the 5th International Canopy Conference 2009.
  • 2009. Infosys foundation. Support to organize a public talk during the
    5th International Canopy Conference 2009.
  • 2009. Jungle Lodges and Resorts. Support to organize a session on ‘Canopy Eco-tourism’ during the 5th International Canopy Conference, 2009.
  • 2009. Wipro India limited. Support to organize public talks and outreach activities during the 5th International Canopy Conference, 2009.
  • 2009. Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.
    Support to organize the 5th International Canopy Conference 2009.
  • 2009. Department of Bio-technology, Government of India. Support to
    organize the 5th International Canopy Conference 2009.
  • 2009. Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.
    Support to organize the 5th International Canopy Conference 2009.
  • 2009. Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Government of
    India. Support to organize the 5th International Canopy Conference 2009.
  • 2007-2009. Food and Agriculture organization: Management of pollinators for
    sustainable agriculture through ecosystem approach.
  • 2005-2008. Department of Biotechnology Revitalizing the traditional bio-resource management practices among women in a forest dependent community around a Protected Area in Tamil Nadu.
  • 2007-2009. Department of Science and technology. Faunal biodiversity associated with epiphytes in the wet forest canopy of Western Ghats.
  • 2005-2008. Department of Science and technology. Impact of forest degradation on pollination and dispersal of tree species in wet evergreen forests of Western Ghats.
  • 2002-2007. Department of Biotechnology. An integrated approach to utilizing the proposed butterfly park in Bannerghetta National Park for education and outreach.
  • 2002-2004. Millennium Assessment of Ecosystem Services. Pollination - a life support service of the ecosystem.
  • 2002-2003. National Geographic Society: Continuation grant, Evaluation of Protected Areas for lesser taxa in Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot, using butterflies as probe taxa.
  • 2000-2001. National Geographic Society: Evaluation of Protected Areas for lesser taxa in Western Ghats, a biodiversity hotspot, using butterflies as probe taxa. Extension Grant.
  • 2000-2001. Rufford Small Grant: Effects of disturbance on the reproductive success of a keystone species in Western Ghats.

Select publications

  • Davidar, P., V. Palavai, K. Yoganand, T. Ganesh and M.S. Devy 2010 . Distributional Patterns Of Some Faunal Groups In The Andaman Islands: Conservation Implications. . In Recent Trends in Biodiversity of Andaman and Nicobar Islands,(eds) Ramakrishna, Raghunathan, C. and Sivaperuman.
  • Ganesh,T., R. Ganesan, M.S. Devy and P. Jahnavi. 2010. Treasures on Tiger Tracks- A bilingual Nature guide to the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger reserve. Pub. ATREE.
  • Devy, M. Soubadra., Savitha Swamy and Aravind N.A. 2009. Reshaping Urban Green Spaces. EPW, November 14, 2009, vol XLIV No 46. :25-27.
  • Dolia J., M.S. Devy, N.A. Aravind, A. Kumar. 2008. Adult butterfly communities in coffee plantations around a protected area in the Western Ghats, India. Animal Conservation vol 11, Issue 1, Pages: 26-34.
  • Ganesh,T and M. Soubadra Devy. 2006. Interactions between Non flying mammals and Cullenia exarillata, a canopy tree from the wet forest of Western Ghats. Current Science: 90:1674-1679.
  • Devy, M.S. and P. Davidar. 2003. Pollination systems of trees in Kakachi - a mid-elevation wet evergreen forest in Western Ghats, India. American Journal of Botany 90: 650-657.
  • Devy, M.S. and T. Ganesh. 2003. Canopy science and its relevance to India. Current Science 85:101 - 104.
  • Davidar,P., K. Yoganand, T. Ganesh and M.S. Devy. 2002. Distribution of forest birds and butterflies in the Andaman islands, Bay of Bengal; nested patterns and processes. Ecography 25: 5-16.
  • Devy, M.S. and P. Davidar. 2001. Effects of selective felling on the butterflies assemblage in wet forest of Kalakad-Mudanthurai Tiger reserve: conservation implications: conservation implications. Spl. issue on Current Science, 80: 400-405.
  • Ganesh,T and M.S. Devy. 2000. Flower use by arboreal mammals and its consequence in the pollination of a rainforest tree in the south Western Ghats, India. Selbyana, 21 (1,2) 60-65.
  • Ganesh,T and M.S. Devy. 2000. Bird flowers and pollination ecology. Current science.79:689.
  • Devy, M.S. 2000. Butterflies of wet forests of southern Western India. Tropical Lepidoptera news, vol:4: 8-11.
  • Devy, M.S., T. Ganesh and P. Davidar. 1998. Patterns of butterfly distribution in the Andaman Islands, Implications for conservation. Acta Oecologia 19 (6):527-534.
  • Ganesh, T., R.Ganesan, M.S. Devy, P. Davidar and K.S. Bawa. (1996). An assessment of plant biodiversity at a mid elevation evergreen forest of Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Western Ghats, India. Current Science 71:379-392.
  • Devy, M.S,. T. Ganesh and P. Davidar. 1994. Butterfly Distribution in the Andaman islands. Journal of Andaman Science Association, 10:50-56.

Chapter in books

Davidar, P., M.S. Devy, T.K.Yoganand and T. Ganesh. 1994. Reserve size and implications for conservation of Biodiversity in the Andaman Islands. In (eds) Boyle.,T.J.B. and Boontawee, Measuring and monitoring of Biodiversity in tropical and temperate forest, CIFRO, Indonesia pp 287-301.

Short articles

  1. Devy, M.S. 1998. Occurrence of Spot puffin (Appias lalage) in Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve of south Western Ghats Journal of Bombay Natural History Society 95:522.
  2. Ganesh,T., R.Ganesan and M.S.Devy. 1998. Diet of the brown palm civet in Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, Tamil Nadu. Journal of Bombay Natural History Society 95(1): 108-109.
  3. Devy M.S. 1997. Study of social bee pollinated canopy tree species in the montane wet forest of southern Western Ghats, India. The Newsletter of the international canopy network. 3(2):7.
  4. Ganesh, T. and M.S. Devy. 1993. How butterflies raise their temperature on cold and misty days. Journal of Bombay Natural History Society 90:303.

Popular article

  • Devy.M.S. Out on a limb .Sanctuary 2001. Spl. issue on Western Ghats:14-17
  • Ganesh,T., and M.S. Devy. 2005. Canopy world. Sanctuary, February.

Invited Talks:

  • 2006. Forgotten pollinators forsaken food security
    University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore.
  • 2007. Forgotten pollinators forsaken food security Karnataka Biodiversity Board.
  • 2008. Diversity luncheon talk at ESA – Experiences of woman Ecologist in a Tiger Reserve at Ecological Society of America, Milwaukee USA.
  • 2008. Ecology and conservation of a Tiger reserve, in India. New College, Sarasota, Florida, USA.

Conference and Workshops organised

  • 2009. Convener of the 5th International Canopy conference, 25-31 Oct.2009, Bangalore
  • 2007. Field workshop on pollination ecology, Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve


  • 2009. Foundation course in ecology for students of ATREE Ph.D. programme.
  • 2007. Lectures for the vacational training program supported by Dept. of Biotechnology.
  • 2008. Plant-pollinator interaction and pollination Ecology. New College, Undergrad program, Sarasoata, Florida, USA.


Email: soubadra@atree.org