Long-Term Ecological Observatories (LTEO)
by Tanmay Wagh
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) recently launched the nationwide Long-Term Ecological Observatories (LTEO) Programme. This is a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary programme aimed at understanding the impacts of climate change on India’s various ecosystems and taxa, the results of which will feed into national and regional level policies. The programme covers a wide range of themes including soil, forests, grasslands, invertebrates, fish, herpetofauna, birds, animal movement and marine ecosystems and will be carried out at six index landscapes across the country. These include the Northwestern Arid Zone, Western Himalaya, Eastern Himalaya, Central India, Western Ghats and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Dakshin is heading the Marine theme of the LTEO programme, which will be based in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, in collaboration with the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) – India, Pondicherry University and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). As part of the project, we will be carrying out long term monitoring studies to understand trends in coral reef and reef fish communities, seagrass ecosystems, sea turtles and water quality parameters in the Andaman islands. The initial phase of the project involves fine tuning the research protocols between teams and carrying out reconnaissance studies to identify sites and set up the long-term monitoring plots. To this end, we have hired a Programme Manager to oversee the research and logistics of the Marine theme. While the fieldwork has been delayed due to the COVID restrictions, we are in the process of fine tuning the monitoring protocols, finalising logistics and equipment purchases, and hiring research personnel. The LTEO offers an exciting opportunity for Dakshin to build on the research that has been happening in the islands and streamline it into a robust long-term monitoring programme as well as open the possibility of building new collaborations to carry out cross-theme research in the islands. Since the project is for a longer duration, it also allows us to plug in specific short-term studies which would complement the long-term monitoring and in turn, improve our understanding of how these ecosystems respond to local and global disturbances. Along with the primary research objectives the project will also enable us in improving the research facilities at ANET as well as feed into the existing research and education activities being undertaken in the islands.
To know more, visit the official website of LTEO.
We would like to thank Adhith Swaminathan for the image.