Adjunct Faculty, Primates
PhD in Molecular Biology, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, India, 1993
MSc in Botany, with specialisation in Cytogenetics; 1983 1985, University of Calcutta, Kolkata
BSc in Botany (Honours), Zoology and Chemistry; 1979-1982, Presidency College / University of Calcutta, Kolkata
Dr Anindya Sinha's wide-ranging research interests are in the areas of behavioural ecology and cognitive psychology of primates, animal molecular genetics, evolutionary biology, conservation biology and the philosophy of biology. He has a master’s degree in botany, a doctorate in molecular biology, and has earlier worked on the biochemical genetics of yeast, the social biology of wasps, and the classical genetics of human disease. He is also interested in biology education and popularisation of science, and has lectured extensively in a variety of educational and research institutions. He is a connoisseur of music, movies and art.
He is a Professor and Dean, Academic Affairs, at the National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru.
- Journal ArticleIn pressMixed fortunes: old expansion and recent decline in population size of a subtropical montane primate, the Arunachal macaquePLoS One
- Journal Article2018Physiological stress responses in wild Asian elephants Elephas maximus in a human-dominated landscape in the Western Ghats, southern IndiaGeneral and Comparative EndocrinologyDownload
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Increasing anthropogenic pressures on forests, especially in the tropical regions of the world, have restricted several large mammalian species such as the Asian elephant to fragmented habitats within human-dominated landscapes. In this study, we assessed the effects of an anthropogenic landscape and its associated conflict with humans on the physiological stress responses displayed by Asian elephants in the Anamalai Hills of the Western Ghats mountains in south India. We have quantified faecal glucocorticoid metabolite (FGM) concentrations in focal individual elephants within and across herds, inhabiting both anthropogenic and natural habitats, and evaluated their physiological responses to different socio-ecological situations between November 2013 and April 2014. Physiological stress responses varied significantly among the tested elephant age- and sex categories but not across different types of social organisation. Adults generally showed higher FGM concentrations, even in the absence of stressors, than did any other age category. Males also appeared to have higher stress responses than did females. Although there was no significant variation in mean stress levels between elephants on the plateau in the absence of human interactions and those in adjacent, relatively undisturbed forest habitats, FGM concentrations increased significantly for adult and subadult individuals as well as for calves following drives, during which elephants were driven off aggressively by people. Our study emphasises the general importance of understanding individual variation in physiology and behaviour within a population of a seriously threatened mammalian species, the Asian elephant, and specifically highlights the need for long-term monitoring of the stress physiology and behavioural responses of individual elephants across both human-dominated and natural landscapes. Such studies would not only provide comprehensive insights into the adaptive biology of elephants in changing ecological regimes but also aid in the development of effective management and conservation strategies for endangered populations of the species.
- Book Chapter2017Primates in Urban SettingsInternational Encyclopedia of Primatology
- Book Chapter2014Nature and Culture in the wild: Biological foundations of behavioural traditions in non-human primatesPages 367-389 in R Narasimha and S Menon (editors) Nature and Culture Volume XIV, Part 1, Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture Centre for Studies in Civilizations, New DelhiDownload
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A variety of mechanisms for socially facilitated learning allow animals to acquire information from the behaviour of others, and through their own modified behaviour such information can subsequently be transmitted between individuals within and across generations. Variation in such socially acquired and transmitted behaviours is unlikely to be under direct genetic control since individuals who are closely related genetically can have and pass on very different behaviours; this is also true for cultural traditions that such behaviours may have generated. Behavioural information transfer of this nature thus represents another form of inheritance that operates in many nonhuman species, including primates, in tandem with the more basic genetic system. Most behavioural traditions usually precede genetic adaptations but exert persistent directional selection for genetic variations congruent with the new patterns of behaviour since such traditions lead to the transmission of the same selective regime. Selection for the ability to learn a particular behaviour pattern more efficiently and rapidly may also lead to it becoming dependent on fewer learning trials or none at all – ultimately culminating in a partial or complete incorporation of the trait into the basic genetic inheritance system. This paper reviews principles of culture and its biological foundations, and examines the rôles that behavioural inheritance and socially transmitted cultural traditions play in the structure and dynamics of primate societies, with particular reference to data from long-term field studies on Japanese macaques and from bonnet macaques, a species endemic to peninsular India. Three principal consequences are considered: the appearance of individual behavioural traits leading to the establishment of social traditions, the rôle of stable behavioural traditions in facilitating cultural selection, and the influence of particular behavioural and life-history traits on gene-culture coevolution in nonhuman primates.
- Book2014Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Consciousness and the SelfSpringer India, New Delhi
- Book Chapter2014Experientially Acquired Knowledge of the Self in a Nonhuman PrimatePages 81-99 in Sangeetha Menon, Anindya Sinha and B V Sreekantan (editors) Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Consciousness and the Self, Springer, India
The pressures of developing and maintaining intricate social relationships may have led to the evolution of enhanced cognitive abilities in many social nonhuman species, particularly primates. Knowledge of the dominance ranks and social relationships of other individuals, for example, is important in evaluating one’s position in the prevailing affiliative and dominance networks within a primate society and could be acquired through direct or perceived experience. Allogrooming supplants among female bonnet macaques usually involve the subordinate female of a grooming dyad retreating at the approach of a third female, dominant to both members of the dyad, although, in a few exceptional cases, the dominant member of the dyad could, instead, retreat. Retreat by the dominant individual was observed to be positively correlated to the social attractiveness of her subordinate companion, indicating that individual females successfully evaluate social relationships among other group females. Logistic regression analysis revealed the probability of retreat of the dominant female to be significantly influenced by her own dominance rank and those of the other two interacting females. Individual macaques thus possess egotistical knowledge of their own positions, relative to those of others, in the social hierarchy and appear to, therefore, abstract and mentally represent their own personal attributes as well as those of other members of the group. The experiential acquisition of such cognitive knowledge of the self raises important questions about the possible mechanisms underlying the nature of this mental representation and the general ability to categorise social information in non-verbalizing animal species such as macaques.
- Journal Article2014Local and Landscape Correlates of Primate Distribution and Extinction in Upper Brahmaputra ValleyConservation Biology 28(1): 95-106Download
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Habitat fragmentation affects species distribution and abundance, and drives extinctions. Es- calated tropical deforestation and fragmentation have confined many species populations to habitat rem- nants. How worthwhile is it to invest scarce resources in conserving habitat remnants within densely settled production landscapes? Are these fragments fated to lose species anyway? If not, do other ecologi- cal, anthropogenic, and species-related factors mitigate the effect of fragmentation and offer conservation opportunities? We evaluated, using generalized linear models in an information-theoretic framework, the effect of local- and landscape-scale factors on the richness, abundance, distribution, and local extinction of 6 primate species in 42 lowland tropical rainforest fragments of the Upper Brahmaputra Valley, northeastern India. On average, the forest fragments lost at least one species in the last 30 years but retained half their original species complement. Species richness declined as proportion of habitat lost increased but was not significantly affected by fragment size and isolation. The occurrence of western hoolock gibbon (Hoolock hoolock) and capped langur (Trachypithecus pileatus) in fragments was inversely related to their isolation and loss of habitat, respectively. Fragment area determined stump-tailed (Macaca arctoides) and northern pig-tailed macaque occurrence (Macaca leonina). Assamese macaque (Macaca assamensis) distribution was affected negatively by illegal tree felling, and rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) abundance increased as habitat heterogeneity increased. Primate extinction in a fragment was primarily governed by the extent of divergence in its food tree species richness from that in contiguous forests. We suggest the conservation value of these fragments is high because collectively they retained the entire original species pool and individually retained half of it, even a century after fragmentation. Given the extensive habitat and species loss, however, these fragments urgently require protection and active ecological restoration to sustain this rich primate assemblage.
- Journal Article2014Positive interactions between Irrawaddy dolphins and artisanal fishers in the Chilika Lagoon of eastern India are driven by ecology, socio-economics and cultureAmbio
In human-dominated landscapes, interactions and perceptions towards wildlife are influenced by multi- dimensional drivers. Understanding these drivers could prove useful for wildlife conservation. We surveyed the attitudes and perceptions of fishers towards threatened Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) at Chilika Lagoon India. To validate the drivers of fisher perceptions, we : (1) observed dolphin foraging behavior at stake nets, and (2) compared catch per unit effort (CPUE) and catch income of fishers from stake nets in the presence and absence of foraging dolphins. We found that fishers were mostly positive towards dolphins, believing that dolphins augmented their fish catch and using culture to express their perceptions. Foraging dolphins were observed spending half their time at stake nets and were associated with significantly higher catch income and CPUE of mullet (Liza sp.), a locally preferred food fish species. Wildlife conservation efforts should use the multidimensional drivers of human–wildlife interactions to involve local stakeholders in management.
- Book Chapter2013Arunachal macaque Macaca munzala (Sinha, Datta, Madhusudan and Mishra 2005)Pages 198-210 in A. J. T. Johnsingh & N. Manjrekar (editors) Mammals of South Asia – Volume 1. Universities Press, Hyderabad, India
- Popular Article2013Becoming one of themThe Hindu in School, 9 January