Insights from movement ecology studies from India (2011-2022)

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When most of humanity were immobile during the pandemic lockdown in 2020, an artic tern traveled ~80,000 km to make a living and we sat in front of our laptops and reviewed animal movement studies from India from the last decade. With technology advancement (satellite and GPS collars/tags) there has been a phenomenal increase in the number of research publications across years both globally and from India. 

But most animal movement studies from India are skewed towards big cats like, tigers and leopards and we know little about how smaller animals like frogs or butterflies make movement decisions.   The studies are also not uniformly distributed across India. The north and eastern regions of India have fewer studies as compared to central and western India.  There is also scope for asking more diverse research questions, like how species move - in different climatic zones, in human modified landscapes, when they are in a group, and in aquatic environments.  Additionally, these research questions become more relevant in the context of climate change and anthropogenic modification of landscapes that pose a challenge for a moving animal and the crucial ecological services animal movement provides.

Unfortunately, there is the hardship and delays for getting forest department permits & clearance from various government organizations for capturing and collaring/tagging animals to carry out a study. This needs to change.  A consorted effort from various organizations is also necessary for putting in place conservation action plans that will ensure an animal can move unhindered in search of food, mates and a home.

Prakash, H., Kumar, R. S., Lahkar, B., Sukumar, R., Vanak, A. T., & Thaker, M. (2022). Animal movement ecology in India: insights from 2011–2021 and prospective for the future. PeerJ10, e14401

Link to the paper: