Abstract: Species exist in a world where resources and risks are heterogeneously distributed across space. This is especially so in the current Anthropocene, where animals have to navigate an increasingly complex and dynamic world. Consequently, species conservation has zoomed out to focus on landscapes, rather than individual habitats or protected areas. Conservation at this scale requires considering landscape-scale ecological processes, in particular, connectivity or the movement of animals between habitats. She will discuss her work towards science-based conservation of species and natural ecosystems in such landscapes, and specifically speak to contributions in the field of connectivity. She draws upon theoretical advancements in the field of dispersal ecology and views connectivity as a consequence of animal behavioural responses to the landscape while dispersing. While dispersal has traditionally been a difficult subject of study, She demonstrates how empirical data can be successfully merged with advancements in movement modelling to predict connectivity at scale. Conservation at the scale of landscapes is naturally interdisciplinary, and hence, She also discusses our understanding of human–wildlife relationships. While these questions are applicable to landscapes across the globe, the majority of her work is focussed on two flagship and contrasting species, the Asian elephant—a wide-ranging megaherbivore that frequently comes into conflict with people—and the western hoolock gibbon—a canopy dwelling ape closely linked with wet forests—in Northeast India. Conservation of wildlife and natural ecosystems is linked to our wellbeing, but today’s landscapes are complex, heterogenous and dynamic. Her work helps address critical conservation problems in these landscapes.
Bio: Dr. Divya Vasudev is a conservation scientist. She co-founded and co-leads Conservation Initiatives, a Northeast India based conservation NGO, dedicated to science-based conservation of wildlife, capacity building in the region, and sustenance of positive human–nature relationships into the future. She is interested in improving ways of organically moving from knowledge (science) to conservation action. Divya obtained her Master's in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from the National Centre for Biological Sciences, and PhD in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida. She was Associate Director–Conservation Science and headed the Northeast India program at Wildlife Conservation Society India Program between 2014 and 2019. She is a recipient of the Department of Science and Technology–INSPIRE Faculty Award. She is a member of policy groups such as the IUCN–Connectivity Conservation Specialist Groups; Councillor, Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation; and Handling Editor, Conservation Biology. She teaches as visiting faculty at the Wildlife program at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, and at Ashoka University.