Invited Speakers

Prof. A. L. Ramanathan, Professor, School of Environmental Science, Jawaharlal Nehru University

posted Oct 28, 2015, 6:07 AM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 29, 2015, 4:16 AM ]

TitleTrace metals and nutrient biogeochemistry in the sediments of Indian mangroves     

Abstract: Mangrove ecosystem besides being amongst the world’s most productive tropical ecosystem, is one of the most threatened tropical ecosystems. The paper emphasise on Indian mangrove ecosystem, its distribution, heavy metal pollution and their toxic effect in mangrove ecosystem. The heavy metals like Cd, Fe have very high contamination in Indian mangroves whereas Co, Cr, Cu, Mn, Ni, Pb and Zn are of moderate contamination. Especially in Pichavaram tsunamigenic sediments, enrichment of metals are very high. Al, As contamination, enrichment, geo-accumulation and potential ecological risk are very low at all mangrove sites of India in the study done so far whereas Cd has highest ecological risk at all mangroves sites.

Dr. Arvind K Mishra, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics, Banaras Hindu University

posted Oct 20, 2015, 9:11 PM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 29, 2015, 12:08 AM ]

TitleDepletion of forestry resources and their conservation using technological and economic efforts: a mathematical study                    

AbstractWith the surfacing of various environmental issues like deforestation, climate change, biodiversity, desertification etc., it has become imperative than ever to put the concept of sustainable forest management into practice. The notion behind sustainable forest management is attaining a balance between society's increasing demands for forest products and the conservation of forest health and diversity. Acquiring this balance is critical for the survival of both forests as well as human beings. Therefore, various innovative technologies are being developed and implemented for conservation of forests. Not only this but also people are motivated to use some alternative resources other than forest resources so that cutting of forests can be minimized. To comprehend the effect of employing innovative technologies and economic incentives in the form of alternative non-forest resources on the conservation of forest more comprehensively, we have used the approach of mathematical modelling. We have proposed and analysed some non-linear mathematical models to assess the effect of various strategies on conservation of forest resources. These models enhance our understanding about the system and equip us to gauge the future prospects so that appropriate strategies can be devised. We have obtained the equilibria of the proposed models and performed the stability analysis of the equilibria obtained. We have also performed the numerical simulation for illustrating the validity of our analytical findings and gaining more insight about the system. Through model analysis we derive the condition for attaining sustainable equilibria and its stability in presence of different conservation strategies.

Prof. Ezio Venturino, Professor, Torino University, Italy

posted Oct 10, 2015, 3:33 AM by Biman Chakraborty   [ updated Oct 29, 2015, 2:27 AM by IBM 2016 ]

Title: Epidemiology of viruses in adult Apis Mellifera infested by Varroa destructor mite                                        

Abstract: The ectoparasitic mite Varroa destructor has become one of the major world-wide threats for apiculture. Varroa destructor attacks the honey bee Apis mellifera weakening its host by sucking hemolymph. The damage to bee colonies is just not strictly related to the parasitic action of the mite. Above all it is due to the increased trasmission rate of many viral diseases, for which it constitutes a vector. Examples of such diseases are acute paralysis (ABPV) and deformed wing viruses (DWV). They represent the major causes of colony collapse disorder (CCD). 

In this talk we present an SI model for the description of the epidemi-ological effects of these viruses on adult bees, fostered by the presence of the mite. We characterize the system behavior, establishing that ultimately either only sound bees survive, or the disease becomes endemic and mites are wiped out. Another dangerous possible alternative is the Varroa inva- sion scenario with the extinction of the healthy bees. Finally, we study the coexistence equilibrium in which honey bees share their infected hive with mites. The analysis reflects actual facts observed in natural honey bee colonies. Namely, these diseases are endemic. Further, if the mite population is present, necessarily the viral infection occurs. Our findings indicate that a lower horizontal transmission rate of the virus among honey bees in beehives helps in protecting the bee colonies from Varroa infestation and viral epidemics.

Prof. Himanshu Pathak, Professor & Principal Scientist, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, PUSA

posted Oct 1, 2015, 11:32 PM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 28, 2015, 10:57 AM ]

TitleSoil management for climate-resilient agriculture                                

AbstractClimate change, caused by increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases (GHGs) i.e., carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) in the atmosphere, has emerged as the most prominent environmental issue all over the world. The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its 5th Assessment Report (2014) reiterated that the warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Indian agriculture is highly prone to the risks due to climate change. Agriculture sector is also a major contributor to the enhanced greenhouse effect. Climate change may considerably affect the food supply and access through direct and indirect effects on crops, soils, livestock, fisheries and pests.

Soil is a source and also acts as a sink of GHGs. It is intricately linked to the atmospheric–climate system through the carbon, nitrogen, and hydrologic cycles. Methane is produced in soil during microbial decomposition of organic matter under anaerobic conditions. Rice fields submerged under water are the potential source of CH4 production. Continuous submergence, higher organic C content and use of organic manure in puddled soil enhance the methane emission. Burning of crop residues also contributes to the global methane budget. Nitrous oxide is produced in soils through the processes of nitrification and denitrification.

Soil management offers opportunities for mitigation from supply-side and also from demand-side. The emissions can be effectively minimized by better soil-water-fertilizer-crop management interactions both under irrigated as well as rainfed agriculture. The supply-side opportunities include sustainable intensification with improved varieties, diversified crop rotations; improving nutrient, crop residue and water management; reducing emissions from enteric fermentation; reducing methane emissions from rice cultivation and improving manure management. The demand-side opportunities are sequestering carbon in agricultural systems including agro-forestry, bio-energy crops biochar application, reducing food waste and shifting dietary trends.

Soil management offers promises for climate change adaptation through modifying crop management practices, improving water management, adopting new farm techniques such as resource conserving technologies (RCTs), crop diversification and harnessing the indigenous technical knowledge of farmers. Loss of fertile soil and carbon and nitrogen along with eroded soils can be reduced by local specific soil management practices. Though, there are significant opportunities for GHGs mitigation and adaptation in agriculture, but numerous barriers need to be overcome. A win-win solution is to start with such mitigation and adaptation strategies that are needed for sustainable development.

Prof. Inder Pal Abrol, Director, Centre For Advancement of Sustainable Agriculture, New Delhi

posted Oct 1, 2015, 11:32 PM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 28, 2015, 11:01 AM ]

TitleSoil health food security and climate change                                                

Abstract: No where is the problem of sustaining agricultural productivity growth to meet the needs of increasing population, estimated at 1.2 b, more complex and more challenging than in India. Widespread problems of resource degradation are at the root of unsustainability. The natural resources devoted to agriculture land/soil, water and biodiversity are completely stretched. Large chunks of productive agricultural land are continuously being diverted for non agricultural uses including urban, industrial, infrastructure and other pressing developmental activities. We will need to produce more and more from a declining area under cultivation. Water availability has emerged as a most critical factor in achieving desired productivity goals. Declining water table and quality deterioration have emerged major challenges to sustainability. Problem of resources degradation are not new. They have been with us for quite some time. Vast majority of our soil resources suffer from one or another major limitation to sustained productivity. At the core of soil degradation problem is the lack of attention to, and faulty, agricultural practices contributing to decline in recycling of organic matter in soils. We have given little attention to biodiversity the very basis of healthy functioning of soil systems. Greater variability in wheather events including warming temperatures and extreme in rainfall patterns are greatly accentuating problems of resource degradation. The problems we face are wide ranging but each of them does not stand alone. They are all highly interconnected. Our approach to addressing complex and interconnected problems calls for more integrative approaches to view and find solutions as a way to achieving goals of sustained productivity growth.

Prof. K. C. Malhotra, Former Professor, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata

posted Oct 1, 2015, 11:30 PM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 29, 2015, 2:28 AM ]

Title: Cultural and Ecological Dimensions of Sacred Groves in India                                                        

Abstract: In India, as elsewhere in different parts of the world, a number of communities practice different forms of nature worship. One such significant tradition is that of providing protection to patches of forests dedicated to deities and / or ancestral spirits. These forests are known as sacred groves. The tradition is very ancient and once was widespread in most parts of the world. The estimated number of sacred groves in India is over two lakhs. Groves are rich heritage of India, and play a very important role in religious and cultural life of the people. These ecosystems are rich reservoirs of biodiversity and harbour many RET species. They provide several ecosystem services, such as recharge of aquifers, soil conservation, nutrients cycling, carbon sequestration, pollination.

Dr. Kuntal Ghosh, Associate Professor, Indian Statistical Institute Kolkata

posted Oct 1, 2015, 11:29 PM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 29, 2015, 2:43 AM ]

Title: Our Biological Wealth Under The Overwhelming Threat of A Grossly Uneven Concentration In Material Wealth                                           

AbstractThe present rapid decline of Biodiversity in our planet, whether at genetic, species or ecosystems level, is deeply correlated with uncontrolled and unplanned human activities. This may start from a miniature scale involving, say, a miserably impoverished individual desperate to earn a livelihood, and lead up to the horrendous menace of nuclear warfare and its elaborate preparations among militarily powerful nation states. This is quite unlike the phenomena of mass species extinction in the pre-human era. The glaringly uneven development in human civilization witnessed today, marked on one extreme by a handful of gigantic corporations rushing towards unfathomable profit in the name of globalization, and a huge proportion of mankind reeling under the scourge of abject poverty on the other, is devastatingly paving the way to overexploitation of natural resources, fragmentation and loss of habitat in our country and worldwide, and consequent negative impacts on biodiversity. Planning and judicious management of available resources, by dynamically assessing the real needs of the society, is therefore the need of the hour, than ever, for the sake of conservation of our biological wealth, still surviving, as well as for the existence of mankind itself on this planet --- two phrases which today have  become synonymous for all practical purposes.

Dr. Pabitra Banik, Professor, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata

posted Oct 1, 2015, 11:28 PM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 28, 2015, 11:25 PM ]

Title: Introducing SRI (System of Rice Intensification) Cultivation in West Bengal: Its potential significance and preliminary outcomes    

Abstract: We discuss potential significance of the “System of Rice Intensification”, a set of rice cultivation practices that could achieve higher yields with lower production inputs. We then report on the initial results from experimental introduction of SRI conducted in 15 villages in West Bengal. In each village, a farmer willing to introduce SRI on his own plot was identified and technical assistance was provided. We can observe from those farmers’ plots that SRI practice leads to a substantial increase in yield (between 20 to 60%) with cost savings. 

 Despite such encouraging initial results and 4 years after our initial introduction of SRI to those villages, only a very small fraction of the farmers in the same villages have so far adopted SRI, and many of the farmers remain skeptical about the technology. We lay out some alternative hypotheses about why farmers’ adoption has been slow, based on both our farmer interviews as well as on the existing literature mainly drawn from agricultural economics. Because some SRI practices (e.g., planting a young, single seedling per hill, periodical draining of water from rice fields, etc.) go against the conventional wisdom in rice farming, farmers tend to remain skeptical about the viability of SRI practices while those experimental farmers who have tried SRI under our experiment tend to continue practicing SRI even if we no longer provide assistance.

Dr. Pranoy Goel, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune (IISER Pune)

posted Oct 1, 2015, 11:22 PM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 28, 2015, 10:24 PM ]

TitleModels of diabetogenesis                                                       

AbstractI will discuss the classical model of the development of diabetes in the context of an alternative model that has recently gained attention. The alternative model - dubbed the hypersecretion theory of diabetes - claims that over-secretion of insulin by beta-cells, not under-secretion, is the essential causal event leading to diabetogenesis. I will describe a new mathematical model that places this model on firmer theoretical ground.

Prof. R. L. Bramhachary, Former Head, Embryology Research Unit, ISI, Kolkata

posted Oct 1, 2015, 11:19 PM by IBM 2016   [ updated Oct 29, 2015, 2:42 AM ]

 Title: Glimpses of Microbiome and Macrobiome        

AbstractThe author discusses various aspects of microbiome and macrobiome.  The uninvited microorganisms living on and in our body in such enormous number far exceed our body cells by 10 times and it is surprising that this genome is 150 times more than ours. Some of these are intestinal organisms living in fecal matter. Some of these are dangerous and some are beneficial – their wonderful details have been discussed. Next, we go to the embryonic cells – the fascinating mechanism that makes the body out of a single cell.  The connecting thread macro organisms have next been explored in the form of chemical signals which are everywhere from embryonic cells to tigers. The 50 year long research on chemical signals in tigers and other big cats has been briefly discussed. Apart from these, some interesting examples of the plant world have also been highlighted.

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