Scientist, Education and Public Engagement
I love to watch animals and wonder why they do what they do. Over the years, I have studied various aspects of animal behaviour: flocking in Cinereous Tits, mate choice in Baya Weavers, and brood parasitism by Koels on Crows. With students and collaborators we have asked questions about sensitivity of mosquito larvae to predation risk and about plant-pollinator interactions.
My other main interest is in engaging with the larger public in better understanding the natural world and how it is changing. This is sometimes called Citizen Science or Public Participation in Scientific Research. Our projects along these lines are run in collaboration with the National Centre for Biological Sciences, as well as other partners. We work through the Bird Count India partnership to better understand the distribution, seasonality and abundance of birds. And in SeasonWatch, we work with schools and individual participants to investigate seasonal patterns in leaf-flush, flowering and fruiting of trees. Everyone is welcome to participate!
Apart from these interests in the natural world, I like to think about, and teach about how we can make sense of the world using quantitative research. I spend a fair bit of my time thinking about how ecologists ask and answer research questions, including about the data analytic techniques we use and should be using.
- Journal ArticleIn pressPlaying it safe? Behavioural responses of mosquito larvae encountering a fish predatorEthology, Ecology & Evolution
- Book2017Birds of Karnataka (Kannada) - pocket guide
- Book2017Birds of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands: A pocket guide to 139 birds of the islands
- Journal Article2017Plant-disperser mutualisms in a semi-arid habitat invaded by Lantana camara L.Plant Ecology 218 (8): 935-946
Dispersal is an important ecological process that affects plant population structure and community composition. Invasive plants with fleshy fruits rapidly form associations with native and invasive dispersers, and may affect existing native plant-disperser associations. We asked whether frugivore visitation rate and fruit removal was associated with plant characteristics in a community of fleshy-fruited plants and whether an invasive plant receives more visitation and greater fruit removal than native plants in a semi-arid habitat of Andhra Pradesh, India. Tree-watches were undertaken at individuals of nine native and one invasive shrub species to assess the identity, number and fruit removal by avian frugivores. Network analyses and generalised linear mixed-effects models were used to understand species and community-level patterns. All plants received most number of visits from abundant, generalist avian frugivores. Number of frugivore visits and time spent by frugivores at individual plants was positively associated with fruit crop size, while fruit removal was positively associated with number of frugivore visits and their mean foraging time at individual plants. The invasive shrub, Lantana camara L. (Lantana), had lower average frugivore visit rate than the community of fleshy-fruited plants and received similar average frugivore visits but greater average per-hour fruit removal than two other concurrently fruiting native species. Based on the results of our study, we infer that there is little evidence of competition between native plants and Lantana for the dispersal services of native frugivores and that more data are required to assess the nature of these interactions over the long term. We speculate that plant associations with generalist frugivores may increase the functional redundancy of this frugivory network, buffering it against loss of participating species.
- Dataset2017Data from: Plant-disperser mutualisms in a semi-arid habitat invaded by Lantana camara L. Plant EcologyData Dryad. http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gc6dm
- Dataset2017Playing it safe? behavioural responses of mosquito larvae encountering a fish predator. Ethology Ecology & EvolutionData Dryad. http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.mc132
- Popular Article2016The fall of a squirrelThe Hindu in School, 16 November
- Book2016Birds of Kerala (Malayalam) - pocket guide
- Book2016Birds of Spiti and Ladakh: A pocket guide to 137 birds of high altitudes
- Book2015Birds of peninsular India: a pocket guide to 135 familiar birds