17. The Urban Slender Loris Project

Portrait of a Slender Loris

Portrait of a Slender Loris, © Kalyan Varma.

Science: A Candle In The Dark
Episode 16: The Urban Slender Loris Project
Airdate: 28 June 2016
Host: Vic Bedoian
Guest: Dr. Kaberi Kar Gupta, The Urban Slender Loris Project.

Summary: This month, we had co-producer Vic Bedoian in the host seat. He interviewed Dr. Kaberi Kar Gupta about her remarkable effort to bring together ordinary citizens, naturalists, and scientists to study and help conserve the Slender Loris, a tiny nocturnal primate (pictured above), within the megacity of Bangalore, India. Learn more about the Urban Slender Loris Project on the website, like it on Facebook, and/or follow @urbanloris on Twitter.

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The Precarious Night Life Of An Ancient Primate In A Modern City – September 2015 Café

Portrait of a Slender Loris

Portrait of a Slender Loris, © Kalyan Varma.

Welcome back to another year of science conversations as the Central Valley Café Scientifique opens its 9th season on Monday, September 14th, at Peeve’s Pub.

This month, we will travel to the city of Bangalore in India, with one of our own founding members, Dr. Kaberi Kar Gupta, who has recently launched a new project to study one of that city’s tiny nocturnal denizens, the Slender Loris (pictured above). Dr. Kar Gupta studied this species in the wilds of Kalakad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in southern India for her Ph.D. (in Anthropology from Arizona State University), documenting its social behavior and mating system for the first time. A sabbatical stint in Bangalore several years ago helped her discover that the species also occurs in urban forests! That unlikely realization led her to launch a new participatory research and conservation project involving a range of citizen scientists and stakeholders with an interest in the history of biodiversity in Bangalore’s past, and a commitment to making the “Garden City” re-earn and maintain that title in the future.

Dr. Kar Gupta will talk about how she came to study this unlikely little primate that continues to cling to the dwindling urban forest in Bangalore, and how citizen engagement with nature is crucial to conserving biodiversity. You can learn more about this work on the Urban Slender Loris Project website, read an interview with Dr. Kar Gupta in a recent Guardian article, and hear her discuss the project with Dr. Kelly Hills on Blog Talk Radio:


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You can also hear her talk about urban ecology in Fresno and Chicago (and Kolkata and Bangalore) on the June podcast of our own radio show, Science: A Candle In The Dark, episode 5.

The Urban Slender Loris Project, as you will hear at the Café next week, is a research and conservation project that depends on public participation. You too might get an opportunity to participate—even from faraway Fresno—soon by contributing to a crowdfunding campaign Dr. Kar Gupta plans to launch in the near future. In the meantime, you can follow the project on tumblr, twitter, and Facebook for updates.

When: Monday, 14 September 2015, 7:00 PM

Where: Peeve’s Public House
, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721

Contact: 559-278-2460 (cafe inquiries) / 559-573-5735 (Pub’s number)

Here’s the full poster for this event – please feel free to download, print, and share with your friends and family:

Forests, Weeds and Farms: Shifting Cultivation in the Eastern Himalaya


View from a shifting farm. (Photo: Anirban Datta-Roy)

Karthik Teegalapalli is a graduate research scholar with the Nature Conservation Foundation in India. As part of NCF’s Eastern Himalaya Program, he is studying forest recovery following shifting cultivation in the Upper Siang district in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, in the Eastern Himalaya. He is currently visiting the US as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Virginia. He will share insights from his work as described in this synopsis he has provided:
Shifting cultivation, a form of forest farming in which the land under cultivation is often rotated annually, is a predominant mode of subsistence agriculture in the hilly tropics. The practice involves felling of forests for temporary cultivation; therefore, it is blamed for causing deforestation, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity and for contributing to global climate change. Nevertheless, some argue that shifting cultivation is the only viable agricultural practice in parts of the hilly tropics. They also consider the practice ecologically and culturally appropriate and, under certain conditions, the best means of retaining biodiversity in the landscape. Monoculture plantations, pastures, large-scale permanent agriculture, logging for timber, oil-palm plantations and other such economic activities have all been shown to affect a landscape in more destructive ways than shifting cultivation.
In north-east India, where the practice is widespread among diverse tribal communities, increasing human population density and forest loss have resulted in short fallow cycles (4-5 years is the period between two cultivation cycles) and arrested succession in many areas, often due to invasion by exotic weedy species. To understand vegetation recovery following shifting cultivation and to document the practice in relatively more ideal conditions, I undertook my research in a study site where the practice is undertaken systematically with relatively long fallow periods in a landscape with primary and secondary forests. The specific objectives of my research were: 1) to understand the diversity of the shifting cultivation practice of the Adi community in selected villages, 2) to understand the patterns and processes of vegetation recovery following shifting cultivation, 3) to inspect factors that affect the spread of Mikania micrantha, an invasive climber species in the landscape. In my talk, I will be presenting the results of this research that was undertaken over the last four years.
Children in an Adi village. (Photo: Anirban Datta-Roy)

Children in an Adi village. (Photo: Anirban Datta-Roy)

When: Monday, 5 January 2015, 7:00 PM

Where:  Peeve’s Public House
, 1243 Fulton Mall, Fresno, CA 93721

Contact:  559-278-2460 (cafe inquiries) / 559-573-5735 (Pub’s number)

Here’s the full poster for this event – please feel free to download, print, and share with your friends and family: