Mammalian Ecology and Conservation Lab (MECL)

Techniques being used

We are applying traditional as well as modern techniques to collect data on wildlife species and study their different ecological aspects. We are also focusing on collecting data about different carnivore species including common leopard, gray wolf, black bear etc. which are in conflict with human in different areas of the country. Mainly we are using:

Field Surveys:

we conduct field surveys to different study areas (individual and in groups) for data collection about all mammalian wildlife species understudy. These surveys are made for 1 day to one week in a particular area. The surveys range from weekly, to fortnightly to monthly frequency. During field surveys we use field equipment including binoculars, spotting scope, handheld GPS device etc. to collect data.

Bioacoustic Surveys:

We are also performing bioacoustic surveys in the field for Asiatic Jackal population in the Pothwar Plateau. The use of bioacoustics as a non-invasive and cost-effective sampling method has greatly increased worldwide more recently. This method has been practiced for brds, and bats in the field. In our surveys, we are using this technique to collect data on Asiatic Jackal. For bats, acoustic surveys have long been known to complement traditional mist-netting. Bioacoustic surveys can be used to capture useful and robust data on vocalisations or howling of canid species, in our case, Asiatic Jackal, to inform studies on carnivore distribution and ecology. During this technique, we play loudly the recorded sound of howling of Jackals through a megaphone that spreads across the environment. The Jackals present in that area listen to this recorded sound and respond singly, or in group, tha gives us the numbers of Jackals present in that area.

Field photographs showing application of Bioacoustic survey for Asiatic Jackal data collection.

Camera Trapping:

Motion-triggered trail cameras are being used to investigate and confirm the presence or occurrence of a species in an area, to estimate the abundance of a species in an area And to study the mammalian diversity of an area.


This technique is used for studying the home range of a mammalian species. Now our lab has been successful to acquire radio transmitters, and receivers from an international organization "1Stop Borneo Wildlife" for our Indian pangolin study project.

Scat Analysis:

Our lab is conducting studies on investigating food habits of different mammalian and carnivores, especially. The aim is to know about the kind of diet a species is using, and the prey species it is consuming in an area. This method provides information about the human -wildlife conflict as well in an area. The scat of mammals and especially carnivores are collected from the field periodically, identified in the field on the basis of their shape, color and type of material they contain, collected in self-sealing polythene bags along with all details like GPS location, identified species, date, time and site name etc. and brought to the laboratory for analysis.

Molecular analysis of scats:

The mammalian or carnivores’ scats collected from the field are analyzed in the lab for food habits and prey species. Along with that these collected scats are also preserved in the ethanol for their DNA study and molecular analysis. The species DNA is extracted and sequenced from the scats and identified for species identification and phylogenetic analysis.

Figure 3: Phylogenetic tree of 140 red foxes using 304bp of the mitochondrial cytochrome B sequence. The posterior probability is indicated at the relevant node positions. The tip labels refer to the sample IDs in Table S1 with labels in black indicated newly sequenced samples from this study. Red bar indicates the Palearctic maternal lineage, blue indicates Nearctic maternal lineage, and green indicates Holarctic maternal lineage. KPK = Khyber Pakhtunkhwa administrative province in Pakistan, NP = National Park.

Geographical Information System (GIS) analysis:

We are also using GIS software to construct maps of different species distribution in the country and at global level. We are also reconstructing the global historical distribution of the mammalian species using Quantum Geographical System (QGIS) software. Up till now we have successfully studied and published the historical distribution maps of mammalian species including snow leopard (Panthera uncia), common leopard (Panthera pardus), gray wolf (Canis lupus), brown bear (Ursus arctos), Asiatic lion (Panthera leo), Asiatic tiger (Panthera tigris), Asian elephant (Elephas maximus), three Rhino species (Indian, Javan and Sumatran rhino) and Malay tapir etc.

Questionnaires Surveys:

We are also using indirect method of questionnaire survey to collect data from local people/ community about different aspects of a conflict species in an area. We use self-designed questionnaire proforma to get filled at the time of interview with local community in n area. The data is analyzed to study the different aspects of a conflict species.

Rodents studies:

We are also conducting field and laboratory stududies to investigating different ecological aspects of various rodent species occurring in the Pothwar Plateau. Rodents, being pest species cause huge economic losses to wheta, groundnut etc. and farmers need to controll the population of these pest species. We collect dta on rodents reproductive cycles, the type of crop they damage, and the control measures to be taken. The farmers are accordingly advised how they can control these pest species in their crop field. They are also provided with the bait and traps to capture and control the rodents. The rodent’s species focused so far include lesser bandicoot rat (B. bengalensis), the short-tailed mole rat (N. indica), the Indian gerbil (T. indica) and the bush rat (G. ellioti).