Biology of invasive species:

Biological invasions impact and alter an existing ecosystem in different ways, affecting populations, physiological processes and behavioral ecology of native species, and disease dynamics, as well. With regard to this research area, we attempt to explore and understand the following subtopics: a) how does an exotic species impact the biology of native species, b) are there any conservation consequences of invasions, c) can a cutting edge biological tool be developed for improved detection of the invasive species. Currently, we are using Sailfin Catfish (Pterygoplichthys spp), a freshwater fish, and a native from South America as a model system for the study under both laboratory and field conditions.

Conservation physiology of vertebrates:

Physiology of vertebrates is intricately related to the environment that they belong to. Animals of the same species may have contrastingly different behavioural patterns, and in turn, physiological mechanisms under varied environmental conditions. With this background, we focus on understanding stress and reproductive physiology of large vertebrates under different ecological conditions, for example, disturbed (anthropogenic disturbances) versus pristine forest patches, captive versus free-ranging conditions, isolated versus continuous habitats, populations having equal versus skewed sex ratio. Currently, we are using 2 species of large vertebrates, the Marsh Crocodile and the Leopard, as model systems for the study. The lab is equipped in assessing hormonal physiology of wild vertebrates through non-invasive sampling, while extracting hormone metabolites from fecal and urine samples. The lab also represents India within the network labs of the International Society of Wildlife Endocrinology, USA.

Role of communication in animal world

Communication is one of the most contentious issues in animal behavior, and the complications arise when animals try to communicate with conspecific individuals within a multispecies assemblage. Animals use multiple modes of communication, namely, olfactory, visual, tactile, and acoustic, and the communication dynamics change under different contexts. We are using a range of different freshwater fish species, Goldfish, Guppy, Orange Chromide, Tilapia, to understand role of visual and olfactory mode of communication under different social contexts, foraging, mate choice, habitat preference. We attempt to compare and contrast the communication signals between conspecific and hetero-specific assemblages to understand social information transfer and significance of “signature signals” for a particular species.