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Centre for Ecological Sciences

Even among elephants, it is females that “choose” males

The Asian elephant, Elephas maximus, has elaborate mating rituals. One of these is the oestrous walk by the female, in which she walks in front of the male alluringly. The male tries to put his trunk on her back, and the female chooses to either break into a run and leave the male behind or let him place his forelegs on her. Here, she can again choose to move away and dislodge the precariously positioned male or let him mount her. Testing four different hypotheses using videos obtained painstakingly from Kaziranga National Park in Assam, Karpagam Chelliah and Raman Sukumar from the Centre for Ecological Sciences found out that when it comes to deciding upon mates, females had the last word.

How insects “talk” without a voice box

Most of the communication within an animal species first evolved with chemical signaling, using compounds called pheromones. Animals developed specialized cells that are capable of sending and receiving these chemical mixtures. This signaling helps them communicate in order to identify territory boundaries, individuals within a group, mate-attraction, prey-predation among different species and much more. Over a period of time, most species have evolved to generate sounds in response to a specific situation ― a phenomenon called acoustic signalling. This could be vocal, where the sound is generated by the animal's larynx, or non-vocal, where the sender generates a sound by clapping, scraping or rubbing parts of its body together or against its surroundings.

Pikachu, when can we choose you?

A note on the habitat requirements of Royle's pika, a Himalayan relative of rabbits and hares which has been studied for the first time in India (its relative motivated the much-loved character Pikachu on Pokemon).

Its raining bush frogs: 9 new species from the Western Ghats

If you get airdropped in the misty mountains of the Western Ghats - a global hotspot for biodiversity on the west coast of Peninsular India - one is likely to be engulfed by a rich array of frog calls, from the canopy to the forest floor and grasslands. Many of these calls will be bush frogs.

Bats hunt quiet bushcricket females much more than singing males

For the crickets that chirp loudly during evenings, bats are the main hunters. Male crickets start chirping at dusk to attract females to mate with; females are silent. One would expect that bats make straight for the males and make meals of them, but a recent study from IISc has shown that silent females are attacked much more.

Mapping mangroves, our coastal safety net

Researchers from the Centre for Ecological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science studied four estuaries along the western coast of Karnataka - the Honnavar division of Uttara Kannada district – and showed that the area has about 3 sq. km. of mangrove forests.

Lantana could be adapting to different local habitats

The entire country offers very suitable environmental conditions for the spread of the invasive species lantana. Genetic analysis shows that the species could be adapting to different local habitat conditions. This has been published in Annals of Botany.

IISc student wins accolades in international photo competition

Sap-sucking insects by Souvik

Photographs by Souvik Mandal, a PhD student at the Indian Institute of Science, have won accolades in the BMC Ecology Image Competition 2014. His photographs of insects feeding on plants, and a pair spotted owlets sneaking out of a nesthole in a tress, have been mentioned in the 'Highly commended' category. Souvik captured both of them at the picturesque IISc campus.

Telling tails: Molecules follow morphology in langur taxonomy

The Hanuman langur’s long-standing identity crisis might finally be resolved. Researchers have divided the Hanuman langur into 3-4 different species based on genetic differences; this can help in identifying unique populations that could be threatened by human activity.