This episode features Dr. V.V. Robin who does cutting-edge research on bird diversity using genetics with many surprises. You can see his work at In this episode, Dr. Robin will talk about understanding the patterns and processes of ecology, evolution and biogeography using island systems.  He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Tirupati.  He has been a National Geographic Explorer, a Fullbright Fellow and a Salim Ali – Lok wan Tho Ornithological Fellow.  


  1. Please tell us a little bit about your work? 
  2. The person who introduced us said that you do “cutting-edge research on bird diversity using genetics with many surprises.” What are the surprises?
  3. Tell us why Shola forests are important?
  4. What are your recommendations to regain and preserve the shola forests?
  5. You have worked with the sholakili? What is unique about this bird and its evolution?
  6. Why is special about the Nilgiri Pippit? And what is the source of its problems?
  7. You studied 23 species of birds to understand how the sky islands and their physical barriers to gene flow have affected the bird distribution? Please talk about this.
  8. In Dr. Gadagkar’s article, he mentions that you and your colleagues “reorganised the songbird taxonomy” of the Shola region.  Please talk about that.
  9. What are some of your favourite bird species and why?


Save our Shola Grasslands: film by Prasanjeet Yadav

Shola Sky Islands: the website describing Dr. Robin’s work.


National Geographic article with excerpt below:Islands are not only in the ocean. The basic premise of an island, an isolated bit of land surrounded on all sides by an inhospitable substrate, occurs not only in the ocean—but in the sky too. “Sky islands” are the tops of tall mountains that become environmentally isolated from each other even if they are close together, geographically speaking. The Western Ghats are a mountain chain in southwest India home to spectacular and unique sky islands. But despite being a hotspot of high biodiversity, relatively little is known about them scientifically.

Featured Image from Wikimedia Commons. Photo taken by Ajit Hota of the Nilgiri blue robin or Sholicola major. This Nilgiris beauty is an endangered species and is endemic to the Shola forests of the higher hills of southern India. This small bird is found on the forest floor and undergrowth of dense forest patches sheltered in the valleys of montane grassland, a restricted and threatened habitat.

Pin It on Pinterest