Umesh Srinivasan

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Assistant Professor
Name: Umesh Srinivasan
Affiliations (Departments/Programs): 
Centre for Ecological Sciences
Research Areas: 
Behaviour, Ecology
Biodiversity, community ecology, wildlife biology, conservation science, impacts of climate change and land-use change on biodiversity

Life on Earth is undergoing its sixth ever mass extinction, one that is entirely driven by humans. Amongst the multitude of “global change” factors causing species’ extinctions, climate change and the loss and degradation of natural habitats are major causes. This is especially the case for species in tropical mountain ranges, where most of Earth’s terrestrial biodiversity is concentrated, and where species tend to be thermally sensitive. We study how forest degradation combines with climate change to impact Himalayan biodiversity at multiple levels, from geographic range shifts to behaviour and demography. Our main ongoing work is in the eastern Himalayas of Arunachal Pradesh, where we have been monitoring bird populations in primary and logged forest for a decade using mist netting and bird ringing. We combine this with behavioural observations to understand how climate change and forest loss are altering the composition of mixed-species bird flocks across the elevational gradient. In addition to the Arunachal long-term project, we work with various institutions to study the impacts of global change drivers on Himalayan birds in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Almost all our work happens in the field.

Apart from the research that we do, I also work with the Bugun community of Singchung village in Arunachal Pradesh and the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department on a range of conservation issues. These initiatives include wildlife and nature education for schoolchildren from Arunachali tribal communities and the management of the Singchung Bugun Village Community Reserve, established to protect the critically endangered Bugun Liocichla.


Before joining IISc, I was a postdoctoral fellow with David Wilcove at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. I did my PhD on the demographic impacts of selective logging on birds in Arunachal Pradesh with Suhel Quader at the National Centre for Biological Sciences. My MSc was in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from the Wildlife Conservation Society-National Centre for Biological Sciences. My undergraduate studies were in medicine at Government Medical College, Mysore.

Selected Publications: 

Srinivasan, U., P.R. Elsen & D.S. Wilcove (2019) Annual temperature variation influences the vulnerability of montane bird communities to land-use change. Ecography, 42, 1-11.

Srinivasan, U. (2019) Morphological and behavioural correlates of long-term bird survival in selectively logged forest. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, 7, 17.

Srinivasan, U. & S. Quader (2019) Size-logging interactions and population dynamics in tropical understorey birds. In press, Current Science, 116, 0975.

Srinivasan, U.*, P.R. Elsen*, M.W. Tingley & D.S. Wilcove (2018) Temperature and competition interact to structure Himalayan bird communities. Proceedings of the Royal Society: Series B, 20172593.

Borah, B., S. Quader & U. Srinivasan (2018) Responses of interspecific associations in mixed-species bird flocks to selective logging. Journal of Applied Ecology, DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13097.

Srinivasan, U., J. Hines & S. Quader (2015) Demographic superiority with increased logging in tropical understorey insectivorous birds. Journal of Applied Ecology, 52, 1374-1380.

Srinivasan, U., K. Tamma & U. Ramakrishnan (2014). Species ecology and past climate drive nested species richness patterns along an east-west axis in the Himalaya. Global Ecology & Biogeography, 23, 52-60.

Srinivasan, U. (2013). A slippery slope: logging alters mass-abundance relationships in ecological communities. Journal of Applied Ecology, 50, 920-928.

Sridhar, H., U. Srinivasan, et al. (2012). Positive relationships between association strength and phenotypic similarity characterize the assembly of mixed-species flocks wordwide. The American Naturalist, 180, 777-790.

Srinivasan, U. & S. Quader (2012). To eat and not be eaten: modelling resources and safety in multi-species animal groups. PloS One, e42071.

Srinivasan, U., R. H. Raza & S. Quader (2010). The nuclear question: rethinking species importance in multi-species animal groups. Journal of Animal Ecology, 79, 948-954.