Atul Arvind Joshi

Alumnus, Western Ghats

Atul profile 20pic ncf 20web 1

M Sc in Forestry from Forest Research Institute Dehradun

I had a great fortune to learn my first lessons in ecology in the beautiful forests of Western Ghats with NCF. I studied coffee invasion in the Rainforest fragments in Anamalai hills of this landscape for my Master’s dissertation. Later, I studied spatio-temporal and socio-economic aspects of human-wildlife conflicts in the northern Western Ghats. I was also involved in the large mammal abundance monitoring exercise in this region that was carried out in collaboration with the Forest Department. 

I am currently working at National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore. My study looks at the tree-grass dynamics in a fascinating ecosystem known as Shola-grasslands, located at the higher reaches of the Western Ghats. 



  • Journal Article
    Invasive alien species in relation to edges and forest structure in tropical rainforest fragments of the Western Ghats
    Tropical Ecology 56: 233-244

    PDF, 1.03 MB

    The impact of invasive alien species on native ecosystems is a major conservation issue in the tropics. This study in the rainforest fragments of Anamalai hills, in the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot, assessed the effects of distance from edges and forest structure on the occurrence and abundance of three invasive alien species (Chromolaena odorata, Lantana camara, and Maesopsis eminii). Replicate line transects were laid from the edges into the interiors of four fragments varying in disturbance level and area (32 ha – 200 ha). Densities of alien species in the protected site were lower than in the three disturbed fragments. Maesopsis eminii occurred at highest density (382 trees/ha) in the highly disturbed site where it also showed prolific regeneration (1510 saplings/ha). The invasive alien species showed no clear edge-to-interior pattern, instead their abundance appeared to be localized and related in a site-specific manner to disturbances such as presence of Eucalyptus plantation, canopy openings, and trails.


  • Poster
    Tracking Tigers and Leopards
    Atul Arvind Joshi, Hemanth S, Kalyan Varma, Uma K, Dheeraj Lalvaney, Gayatri Hazarika

    JPG, 570 KB

    Tigers, Leopards, Pugmarks, Soil, Moisture, Claw Marks, Scats, Scrapes, Remains of Prey, Scent-marking

  • Journal Article
    Accounting for false positives improves estimates of occupancy from key informant interviews
    Rajeev Pillay, David A W Miller, James E Hines, Atul Arvind Joshi, M D Madhusudan
    Diversity and Distributions 20: 223-235

    PDF, 443 KB


    Much research in conservation biogeography is fundamentally dependent on obtaining reliable data on species distributions across space and time. Such data are now increasingly being generated using various types of public surveys. These data are often integrated with occupancy models to evaluate distributional patterns, range dynamics and conservation status of multiple species at broad spatio-temporal scales. Occupancy models have traditionally corrected for imperfect detection due to false negatives while implicitly assuming that false positives do not occur. However, public survey data are also prone to false-positive errors, which when unaccounted for can cause bias in occupancy estimates. We test whether false positives in a dataset collected from public surveys lead to overestimation of species site occupancy and whether estimators that simultaneously account for false-positive and false-negative errors improve occupancy estimates.


    Western Ghats, India.


    We fit occupancy models that simultaneously account for false positives and negatives to data collected from a large-scale key informant interview survey for 30 species of large vertebrates. We tested their performance against standard occupancy models that account only for false negatives.


    Standard occupancy models that correct only for false negatives tended to overestimate species occupancy due to false-positive errors. Occupancy models that simultaneously accounted for false positives and negatives had greater support [lower Akaike's information criterion (AIC)] and, consistent with predictions, generated systematically lower occupancy estimates than standard models. Furthermore, accounting for false positives improved the accuracy of occupancy estimates despite the added complexity to the statistical estimator.

    Main conclusions

    Integrating large-scale public surveys with occupancy modelling approaches is a powerful tool for informing conservation and management. However, in many if not most cases, it will be important to explicitly account for false positives to ensure the reliability of occupancy estimates obtained from public survey datasets such as key informant interviews, volunteer surveys, citizen science programmes, historical archives and acoustic surveys.

  • Popular Article
    Saving Sahyadri
    Frontline 27(24):64-72

    PDF, 858 KB

    Tigers are on the retreat from the Sahyadris and the predator’s preferred prey, the sambar, is on the decline.

  • Journal Article
    Brewing trouble: coffee invasion in relation to edges and forest structure in tropical rainforest fragments of the Western Ghats, India
    Biological Invasions 11: 2387–2400

    While the conservation impacts of invasive plant species on tropical biodiversity is widely recognised, little is known of the potential for cultivated crops turning invasive in tropical forest regions. In the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot, India, fragmented rainforests often adjoin coffee plantations. This study in the Anamalai hills assessed the effects of distance from edges and forest structure on the occurrence and abundance of shade-tolerant coffee (Arabica Coffea arabica and Robusta C. canephora) in four fragments (32–200 ha) using replicate line transects laid from the edges into the interiors. The coffee species cultivated in adjoining plantations was more abundant than the other coffee species inside study fragments, showing a clear decline in stem density from edge (0 m) to interior (250 m), suggesting the influence of propagule pressure of adjoining plantations, coupled with edge effects and seed dispersal by animals. Significant positive correlations of coffee density with canopy cover indicate the potential threat of coffee invasion even in closed canopy rainforests. Stem density of Coffea arabica (150–1,825 stems/ha) was higher in more disturbed fragments, whereas Coffea canephora had spread in disturbed and undisturbed sites achieving much higher densities (6.3–11,486 stems/ha). In addition, a negative relationship between C. canephora and native shrub density indicates its potential detrimental effects on native plants

  • Dataset
    Data from: Brewing trouble: coffee invasion in relation to edges and forest structure in tropical rainforest fragments of the Western Ghats, India. Biological Invasions
    Dryad Digital Repository. doi: 10.5061/dryad.588k7

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