I work on diversity at various levels of organisation, from genes to ecosystems, and at various scales from local communities to macro-ecological scales. We combine field ecology, phylogenetics and ecological modelling to understand evolutionary and biogeographic patterns in various marine and terrestrial taxa. I am also continuing my research on the ecology and evolutionary biology of marine turtles. My research page.
Diversity and Distribution: We work on the diversity and distribution of a range of taxa at multiple spatial and temporal scales. We work in terrestrial habitats mainly in the Western Ghats, but extending to the other parts of India including the Eastern Ghats and Northeast India. In addition, we are interested in large scale altitudinal and latitudinal patterns using integrated models which incorporate neutral theory, ecology and evolution. Current research projects include studies of distribution patterns of birds and plants, and phylogeny and biogeography of snakes, lizards and frogs. We are also initiating projects on the diversity and distribution of coastal and marine invertebrates.
Mixed species foraging associations: We are examining the role of positive interspecific interactions in structuring biological communities. For much of its history, community ecology has placed far greater emphasis on negative interactions, such as competition and predation. Only recently has the importance of positive interactions gained theoretical and empirical attention. Research in our lab focuses on different kinds of interactions including mixed-species foraging groups. We examine the costs and benefits of hetero-specific grouping in diverse systems, from bird flocks in tropical forests to schools of marine reef fish. We also examine patterns of association in inter-tidal communities.
Marine turtle biology and conservation: In the late 1980s, I helped establish a students’ groups for sea turtle conservation in Chennai. I started conducting research on sea turtles in 1999 with a project on the molecular ecology of olive ridleys in Odisha. Since then, my team has established long-term monitoring programmes for olive ridleys in Rushikulya (Odisha) and leatherback turtles in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. More recently, we have started work on green turtles in the Lakshadweep Islands. We also produce the Indian Ocean Turtle Newsletter and operate a website on the Sea Turtles of India. We have helped establish regional and national networks for coastal and marine conservation.