CURRENT SCIEN CE, VOL. 110, NO. 2 , 25 JANUARY 2016 129
Regulated animal dissections in Indian curricula as a measure to
control invasive species
Recent restrictions and regulations put
on the animal dissections in academic
curricula of life sciences at the under-
graduate and postgraduate levels have
met with a lot of criticism from research-
ers and university/college teachers1.
Basic life sciences subject like Zoology
have always depended on dissections for
studying various aspects of animal mor-
phology, anatomy and physiology. Such
a ban will most certainly affect the qua-
lity of teaching, learning and research in
Invasive species are a serious threat to
the nati ve biodiversity and can lead to
species extinctions and subsequent alte-
ration in ecosystem function3. USA has
already incurred a loss of about 120 bil-
lion dollars/year and nearly 42% of the
threatened or endangered species are at
risk due to such exotic species4. Strat e-
gies using biocontrol agents to curb inva-
sive species involve risk of undesired
impacts on non-target (including native)
species populati ons, and their case stud-
ies have been debated5. To be on the
safer side with regard to the environ-
ment, the simple logic that periodic and
mass physical removal of any unwanted
organism will control outbreak as well as
its side effects. This action does not sug-
gest halting any other control measures
for invasive species; the advantage being
that their side effects (if any) will be
minimized and quantifiable.
India has its share of such invasive
species, of which many were intr oduced
as an alternative food source. Species
like Giant African snail Lissachatina fu-
lica, Tilapia Oreochromis mossambicus,
Common carp Cyprinus carpio and the
Mosquito fish Gambusia affinis are
widely distributed in India. In the global
context, these feature in the top 100
invasive species of the world6. Some
CURRENT SCIEN CE, VOL. 110, NO. 2 , 25 JANUARY 2016 130
literature is available on controlling a
few of these species as well7, 8. The fact
that they still position in the top 100, re-
flects the urgency to bring their popula-
tions under control. The species listed
above are easily identifiable and substan-
tial literature exists on various aspects of
Given this information, we suggest
regulated use of these invasive organisms
for animal dissections in different zoo-
logical research and study curricula.
Such a substitution adheres to almost all
of the Uni versity Grant Commission
(UGC) recommendations (under Section
B – Objective/Aim to be achieved). Dis-
section of invasive animals partly ad-
heres to recommendation B.1.1, as none
of the suggested animals comes under
the Wildlife Protection Act currently
enforced in India. This substitution does
not affect B.1.2, since dissecti ons of
these ani mals would also be regulated.
B.1.3 could be modified by substituting
‘invasive species’ in place of the native
animal species. Due to this, the onus of
mass captive rearing, especiall y in
smaller colleges with limited facilities,
will be lessened to an extent. B.1.4 could
be modified on the lines of B.1.3. For
recommendation B.1.5, a species selec-
ted for dissections in postgraduate cur-
riculum could in itself be an invasive
species. The syllabus could be amended
accordingly, as there is a lot of literature
on all biological aspects of these ani-
mals. Using the invasive species for dis-
section would not directly affect any
long-term recommendations given by the
Public dissemination of such knowl-
edge will definitely help governmental
bodies to modify the regulations as is
already being considered by the Ministry
of Environment and Forests9,10. Use of
such species will not only aid the stu-
dents and researchers, but also help in
controlling the damage caused by them
on the native flora and fauna.
We completely agree that ra mpant use
of ani mals caught in the wild for vivise c-
tion, especially the scheduled species11,
should be avoided at all costs. Substitu-
tion of exotic species for regulated dis-
sections in the present curriculum can be
a good strategy for both alleviating the
pest problem and not compromising on
quality of life sciences education.
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worst_ 100 /engli sh_100_wor st.pd f (ac-
cessed on 2 5 October 201 5).
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reddy, K. B., Prasa d, P. B., Patil, B. V.
and Kuruvina shetti, M. S., Curr . Sci.,
2004 , 87 , 1657 .
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and Goder, M., Manage. Biol. Invas .,
2011 , 2, 39–45.
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environment -ministry (access ed on 25
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SAMEE R PADHYE 1,3
SIDDHARTH KULK ARNI 2,*
1Wildlif e Information Liaison
Coimbatore 641 035, India
2Biome Conservation Foundation,
18, Silver Moon Apts,
1/2A/2, Bavdhan Kh.,
Pune 411 021, India
3Post Graduate Department and
Research Centre of Zoology,
Prof. Ramkrishna More Arts, Commerce
and Science College, Akurdi,
Pune 411 044, India