Environmental wherein we are living has been changed during last two decades due to a number of factors beyond control. Increased automobiles industries, fertilizers and other chemicals have forced the human being to change its life style of living. Smokes produced by automobiles or from industries contain number of metallic ions, which are implicated with lots of epidemiological causes and induce severe toxicity. To assess the reproductive toxicity of metallic ions pesticides and fertilizers, Reproductive Biology Unit has initiated a research programme. Research projects from various funding agencies like M. En., UGC ICMR DRDO were granted to this department on various aspects of environmental toxicology. Another major aspects of research which is being persuaded by the group is one the menace of environmental toxicants, uncontrollably spreading causing serious health problems. Development of safe natural herbal drugs, antioxidants etc as antidotes against several metal toxicants is currently under serious investigation.
For a long time the Reproductive Buiology, Toxicology and Anti-fertility laboratories have been engaged in research on one of the major aspects of national issue, the population control. In view of the possible adverse effects of chemically synthesized contraceptives, intensive studies are being carried out to develop natural herbal contraceptives for effective application. The group has also achieved some significant results in their efforts.
The laboratory of Fish Biology & Aquatic Biology is engaged in Investigations on two major aspects of fish biology, the fish reproduction to manipulate spawning behavior in fishes and to analyze the effects of aquatic toxicity on the fertility and productivity of fish forms etc. The laboratory is also carrying out investigations on qualitative and quantitative aspects of various aquatic ecosystems for identifying suitable biomarkers species to assess and monitor the water pollution due to sewage and industrial wastes.
The Conservation Biology Unit has carried out extensive studies on the population biology of various aquatic animals such as Gangetic dolphin, gharial, turtle otter and Mugger in relation to their conservation as well as monitoring of aquatic pollution. Research studies have been conducted on the Biodiversity conservation in Protected areas and Biosphere Reserves.
The investigations in the department of zoology are not only confined laboratories but have also taken up the cause of social problems related to rural public health. Comprehensive survey of drinking water sources, hygiene and other health related aspects are being scientifically studies to not only spread awareness among the people about their own well being but also to suggest the government authorities to take appropriate Measures to provide suitable health environment.
The Pigment Cell Biology Laboratory is working on the mechanism of colour changes in fishes in response to the environmental factors. The mechanism of signal transudation that involves cell surface receptors and hormones is currently a major interest of investigation in the laboratory. The Entomology Laboratory is actively engaged in investigations on cellular physiology and transport mechanism of insecticides with a long-term target to develop pest control methods using Neem products and other pesticides currently under field applications.
A significant contribution is being made by the Laboratory of Neurobiology & Aging in the fuield of neuroscience. The laboratory has taken up the cause of old age problems related to brain disfunctioning. Neurotoxic effects of certain environmental toxicants is also being examined. The laboratory is looking into the causes and the possible remedies of brain disorders through pharmacological means, applying state of the arts techniques in neurobiology and nmolecualar cell biology. Studies are beibng carried out on Neuron gilial and glial-glial interaction during neurodegeneration, neuroprotection and impacts of common used insecticides on brain development.
One of the important aspects on which some of the faculty members are working is the biomarker approach to evolve methods of assessing and monitoring the environmental pollutions, including aquatic and terrestrial environment. Both animal models (vertebrates and invertebrates) and the biomolecules (e.g. stress inducible proteins).
The Cytogenetics and molecular Cell Biology Laboratory is working on the role of stress responsive genes (heat shock gens) Proteins (sdHSPs) during developing and environmental stresses. How these genes behave and are kregulated in these situations, are currently under investigation. The laboratory has developed basick infrastructure and expertise in molecular cloning and gene analysis Currently a project to clone and characterize heat shock genes from blow fly Lucilia cuprina, a sheep pest it already in progress. The laboratory is also working on the establishment of HSPs as a fast universal and suitable molecular biomarker for assessment and monitoring of environmental and occupational toxicity, using both in vitro and in vivo approaches. Development and use of transgenic files carrying reporter genes under control of stress gene promoters is already under a long term planning to develop in vivo models for biomonitoring of environmental pollution.
In context of biodiversity conservation some of the faculty members are planning to utilize novel molecular methods of genome analysis jis order to generate gnomic data on species diversity and for conservation of certain endangered species of fresh water turtles. Turtles are also known as important indicator species of aquatic pollution.
Most of the above mentioned research studies are being supported by craves national and international funding agencies.
Wildlife Studies and Research (Conservation Biology Unit)
The Conservation Biology Unit of the School of Studies in Zoology, Jiwaji University is undertaking advanced studies on Wildlife to help for science popularization and generate interest particularly of the younger generation in the field of Wildlife. The School of Studies in Zoology is the pioneer in wildlife studies in Madhya Pradesh. Some faculty members of the School have contributed much to the development of wildlife science not only in this region but also in the whole nation. Many students have done Ph.D. and M. Phil. on wildlife in different protected areas. Research findings on wildlife have been published in various National and International Journals and recorded in Encyclopedia of Britannica. Research contributions are mainly towards identification, biology and conservation of various species starting from microorganisms to crocodile and tigers in various habitats. Their research contributions have been very well taken by International Organisations like IUCN, UNDP, UNEP, WWF etc. and by the Govt. of India for implementation in policy matters. Dr. R. J. Rao is working as Honorary Wildlife Warden, appointed by the Govt. of Madhya Pradesh. The wildlife research programmes carried out by Dr. R. J. Rao are as follows:
- Studies on biological restoration of Ganga River in Uttar Pradesh: An indicator species approach. 1992-1995Name of funding agency: Ganga Project Directorate, Govt. of India
- Ecological evaluation of the freshwater turtle rehabilitation project in Ganges. 1995 Name of funding agency: Ganga Project Directorate, Govt. of India.
- Survey of conservation status of Monitor lizards (Varanus sp.) in India. 1993-96 Name of funding agency: Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt. of India
- Prospects of Honey-bee keeping in Gwalior region. 1995-97 Name of funding agency: Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India
- Studies on Evaluation of Wildlife habitats in the proposed Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve, M.P. with special reference to Biodiversity conservation. 1998-2001 Name of funding agency: Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt. of India
- Inland Wetlands of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh 2001-2002 Name of funding agency: UNDP/GOI
- Assessment of reintroduction and conservation programmes of Endangered Species in some protected areas of North Madhya Pradesh.” 2002-2005 Name of funding agency: University Grants Commission, Govt. of India
- Inventory of Wetlands under Thrust Area: Aquatic Biology, (Special Assistance Programme). 2002-2007 Name of funding agency: University Grants Commission, Govt. of India
The faculty members, working on wildlife, from the School of Studies in Zoology have visited many countries to gain knowledge and learned research techniques on wildlife biology, ecology and management. The countries and Institutions/Universities visited by Dr. R. J. Rao for wildlife related activities are as follows:
- University of Kent, Canterbury, U,K, 1989
- University of Florida, Florida, USA, 1990
- University of Northern Territory, Australia, 1993
- Crocodile Farms, Singapore, 1993
- SOPTOM, Gonfaron, France, 1995
- CARAPAX, Follonica, Italy, 1995
- Suntec Centre, Singapore, 1998
- KWSTI, Naivasha, Kenya, Africa, 1999
- Univ. of Lodz, Poland, 1999
- Univ. of Vienna, Austria, 1999
- Kis-Balaton Ecohydrology Laboratory, Hungary, 1999
- Croatian Waters, Croatia, 1999
- UNESCO, Venice Office, Italy, 1999
The school of studies in Zoology is collaborating with the following Institutes/Universities/Departments to carry out wildlife research.
- Madhya Pradesh Forest Department
- Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal
- State Forest Research Institute, Jabalpur
- Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun
- Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology & Natural History, Coimbatore
- World-wide Fund for Nature, New Delhi
- Bombay Natural History Society, Bombay
Wildlife Studies are being taken up in the following protected areas of Madhya Pradesh: Madhav National Park, Kuno Palpur Sanctuary, National Chambal Sanctuary, Van Vihar National Park, Amarkantak Biosphere Reserve, Ghatigaon Bustard Sanctuary etc. Zoo management studies are being conducted in the Van Vihar National Park, Gandhi Zoo etc. Current wildlife studies are Evaluation of Reintroduction programmes on Endangered species, Wildlife habitat evaluation and assessment through Remote Sensing, Inventory of wetland lands, Biodiversity value of wetlands etc.
Being member of International Union for conservation of Nature/Species Survival Commission Dr. Rao attended many International scientific meetings/ conferences and training course in U.K., U.S.A., Australia Singapore, France, Kenya, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Croatia, and Poland to present research findings and country reports. Scientific activities have been organised on various issues related to wildlife and Biodiversity conservation during 1995-2001. Efforts have been made for NGO-University collaboration programmes for Environmental protection.
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