Conservation Biology

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSHE2ED3294

Semester to which offered: III semester

Course Title: Conservation Biology

Credits: 4 Credits

Course Code (new): SHE2ED329

Type of Course: Elective: Yes Cohort MAED

Course Coordinator and Course Faculty: Dr. Suresh Babu (CC); Dr. Monica Kaushik (Visiting Assistant Professor)

Email of course coordinator: suresh[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None


Conservation of biological diversity is critical to maintaining the future of life on our planet. In this epoch of sixth mass extinction loss of life forms also indicate irreversible loss of genetic material, ecosystem services and loss of natural resources. Links of biological diversity are very intricately connected to the fundamental spheres of human life such as social and mental well-being, aesthetic factors, spiritual implications, economic indicators and ethical considerations. This means that conservation of biological diversity is essential for the existence of all life forms including that of humankind.

The course will begin with giving an understanding of the biological diversity, its distribution on earth, patterns of biodiversity gradient and the underlying mechanisms. This will be followed by the discussion on various threats to biological diversity, underlying processes for biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation as well as its consequences for ecosystem function. Species extinction will be analyzed to understand the variation in extinction rates across species and regions, reasons for extinction across regions and species. The essentials of conservation planning and design as currently practiced based on ecological principles will then be studied. Rehabilitation of degraded habitats, reintroduction and translocation biology and the related debates will also be covered.

Course content


Module description


Underlying process structuring biodiversity


Causes of Biodiversity Loss


Patterns of Extinction


Consequences of Extinction


Conservation of Species and Populations


Conserving Communities/Ecosystem through Protected Areas


Protected Network of India


Case studies of Conservation from India


Historic Range of Variability for Biodiversity Conservation


Rewilding, Reintroduction and Restoration


Conservation of Biodiversity outside Protected Areas


Urban landscapes as venues for biodiversity conservation


Learning Objectives:

  1. To understand current debates and strategies in the area of conservation biology and articulate the role of science in conservation.
  2. To understand the ecological process shaping earth’s biodiversity and the underlying factors for its decline and conventional as well as new strategies of conservation such as rewilding, reintroduction and restoration.
  3. To understand and appreciate the importance of spatial and temporal scale while investigating the differences in biodiversity and its related properties.
  4. To understand India’s conservation dilemma’s, its protected area network and major conservation projects would increase their employability in conservation organization.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the natural and anthropogenic factors causing variability in biodiversity on earth.
  2. Ability to understand and appreciate the role of spatial scale while formulating research questions around biodiversity patterns and its conservation.
  3. Ability to appreciate biodiversity conservation challenges and environmental sustainability issues.
  4. Ability to appreciate the complexity of biodiversity conservation issues pertaining to developing countries.
  5. Understand the role of natural disturbance in management landscapes for maintain the ecological balance.
  6. Discuss about the major conservation initiatives in our country and their evolution over time.
  7. Debate about the role of unconventional mechanism of biodiversity conservation and out of the box solution for conserving species/populations/communities through tools such as rewilding/reintroduction/ restoration.

Indicative Reading List

Journal articles

  • Athreya, V. R., Thakur, S. S., Chaudhuri, S., & Belsare, A. V. (2007). Leopards in human-dominated areas: A spillover from sustained translocations into nearby forests?. Journal-Bombay natural history society, 104(1), 45.
  • Aronson, M. F., Lepczyk, C. A., Evans, K. L., Goddard, M. A., Lerman, S. B., MacIvor, J. S., … Vargo, T. (2017). Biodiversity in the city: key challenges for urban green space management. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 15(4), 189-196.
  • Bhagwat, S. A., Willis, K. J., Birks, H. J. B., & Whittaker, R. J. (2008). Agroforestry: a refuge for tropical biodiversity? Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 23(5), 261-267.
  • Brook, B. W., Sodhi, N. S., & Ng, P. K. (2003). Catastrophic extinctions follow deforestation in Singapore. Nature, 424(6947), 420.
  • Bruner, A. G., Gullison, R. E., Rice, R. E., & Da Fonseca, G. A. (2001). Effectiveness of parks in protecting tropical biodiversity. Science, 291(5501), 125-128.
  • Caro, T. M., & O'doherty, G. (1999). On the use of surrogate species in conservation biology. Conservation Biology, 13(4), 805-814.
  • Chapin Iii, F. S., Zavaleta, E. S., Eviner, V. T., Naylor, R. L., Vitousek, P. M., Reynolds, H. L., … Hobbie, S. E. (2000). Consequences of changing biodiversity. Nature, 405(6783), 234.
  • Corlett, R. T. (2016). Restoration, reintroduction, and rewilding in a changing world. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 31(6), 453-462.
  • Díaz, S., Fargione, J., Chapin III, F. S., & Tilman, D. (2006). Biodiversity loss threatens human well-being. PLoS Biology, 4(8), e277.
  • Gaston, K. J. (2000). Global patterns in biodiversity. Nature, 405(6783), 220.
  • Gippoliti, S., & Carpaneto, G. M. (1997). Captive breeding, zoos, and good sense. Conservation Biology, 11(3), 806-807.
  • Johnsingh, A. J. T., & Goyal, S. P. (2005). Tiger conservation in India: The past, present and the future. Indian Forester, 131(10), 1279-1296.
  • Myers, N., Mittermeier, R. A., Mittermeier, C. G., Da Fonseca, G. A., & Kent, J. (2000). Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature, 403(6772), 853.
  • Nogués-Bravo, D., Simberloff, D., Rahbek, C., & Sanders, N. J. (2016). Rewilding is the new Pandora's box in conservation. Current Biology, 26(3), R87-R91.
  • Pounds, J. A., Bustamante, M. R., Coloma, L. A., Consuegra, J. A., Fogden, M. P., Foster, P. N., … Puschendorf, R. (2006). Widespread amphibian extinctions from epidemic disease driven by global warming. Nature, 439(7073), 161.
  • Shaffer, M. L. (1981). Minimum Population Sizes for Species Conservation. BioScience, 131-134.
  • Tinker, D. B., Romme, W. H., & Despain, D. G. (2003). Historic range of variability in landscape structure in subalpine forests of the Greater Yellowstone Area, USA. Landscape Ecology, 18(4), 427.

Assessment Methodology:

Assessment structure (modes and frequency of assessments) students will be assessed based on a combination of quizzes, take-home essays (one or two), independent projects and an end-semester exam.









Take-home essay/Quiz



Take home essay



Field visit/ Independent project/ Take home essay



End-semester exam