Thematic areas

Behavioural ecology of bees: Social insects carry out a diverse array of tasks through task partitioning and task flexibility. We have been exploring ontogeny of polyethism in  honey bees and resource-specialisation in foragers. As foragers, bees utilise vision and olfaction to exploit various floral resources and to find their way to their hive/nest. The lab, since its inception, has been working on several aspects of learning and discrimination in visual modality. We have been involved in looking at the orientation flight behaviour, colour preferences, learning and memory in Asian honey bees, Western honey bees, stingless bees and carpenter bees, and visual detection and discrimination thresholds of stingless bees.

Visual ecology of fruit bats: Being nocturnal pollinators and seed dispersers, dependent on visual cues, visual ecology of bats is a fascinating avenue. We examine their flight patterns in relation to lunar phases and roosting preferences and also the influence of artificial lighting on these patterns in urban and semi-urban landscapes.

Behavioural ecology of spiders: Spiders are generally aggressive towards each other, and are found exhibiting a solitary habit. Social spiders are an exception to this rule; they live in communal groups, sharing tasks that span from prey capture to nest maintenance. We are interested in how dispersal of individuals from a colony occurs, the factors influencing personalities of individual spiders, and the female biased sex-ratio in a colony. We also examine the silk biomechanics of Stegodyphus sarasinorum.

Plant-animal interactions: We are interested in exploring the different stages of plant life cycle where they interact with animals. Pollination and seed dispersal are amongst key stages that we have been looking at. We examine these processes at scales ranging from individuals to ecosystems by integrating approaches ranging from sensory ecology to plant-pollinator networks to molecular genetics. Our study systems for these have been the cloud forests of the northern Western Ghats, Myristica swamps, moist-deciduous and evergreen forests of the southern Western Ghats, scrub forests of the Eastern Ghats and agroecosystems such as the Oil palm plantations in the southern Western Ghats.