Aavika Dhanda

Matric Year: 2019 – Subject: DPhil Zoology – Scholarship: Mary De Zouche Graduate Scholar

My doctoral research is about assessing the impacts of climate change and local land-use land-cover changes on birds of eastern Indian Himalaya, a global biodiversity hotspot. My study site in Arunachal Pradesh is home to Idu-Mishmis, the indigenous people of Dibang Valley.

I completed my masters in Environment Science and Technology with the highest grades from Bharati Vidyapeeth Institute of Environment Education and Research, Pune (India) in 2017 where I studied the effects of urban noise on acoustic communication of Myna species for my dissertation. After my masters, I investigated the effects of land-use change on bird communities in extremely remote community forests and tropical forests in Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya, a state in Northeast India which lies in the Indo-Burma biodiversity hotspot. I then worked as a junior researcher for a year under the National Mission for Himalayan Studies scheme with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, where I intensively documented the utilization and consumption of insects by tribes of three Northeast Indian states- Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

Large-scale deforestation for pro-development projects, diversion of primary forests, hunting, climate change, unsustainable harvesting of forest resources etc. are expected to push many species to extinction, while triggering newer coping mechanisms in some. My research interest broadly revolves around understanding which birds adapt well to such events and which do not. Dibang Valley, in particular, is undergoing massive changes due to ongoing anthropogenic activities which are expected to have negative impacts on birds, most of which remain undiscovered or understudied. While in Dibang Valley, I also intend to document people-bird interactions, their stories and relevance of bird species in Idu-Mishmi culture.

Through an international platform and generous support provided by OICSD, I intend to contribute more to both scientific and social research in Northeast India, a region which remains largely unexplored even today.

Where Next?