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Breaking down the math of competition

Competition among different animals in a natural ecosystem is ubiquitous and determines many characteristics of the ecosystem. Ecologists use different mathematical models to estimate population of animals in the wild and help determine those species that are on the verge of being endangered or extinct. A new study by undergraduates at IISc has proposed a modification to an existing mathematical equation that takes competition of species into account, thus helping ecologists make accurate predictions along with actual field data.

Which colours do you choose? A study on why the superb fan throated lizard (Sarada superba) is so colourful

Have you ever wondered how animals communicate with each other? While some might use sound by howling, chirping or roaring, others, like the resplendent superb fan throated lizards have evolved a unique form of communication using colors. In a new study, researchers have understood the complex system these lizards use to signal to each other using their colorful dewlaps. Using colors like orange, blue and black, these lizards signal differently to males and females of their own, say the researchers.  

The Pests of Pests: Relationships between Termites, Parasites and Mutualists

Relationships between various organisms stem to achieve an ultimate objective - survival. In mutualistic relationships, all involved in the relationship help each other survive, whereas in parasitic relationships, only one of those have an upper hand. But in spite of this chaos, how does nature maintain a balance? In a new study, scientists have studied examples of such relationships between termites and fungi - both mutualistic and parasitic - and have uncovered some interesting strategies adopted by these fungi to survive and thrive.

Research says unscientific dumping of waste is affecting Bengaluru’s lakes and wells

“There is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw something, it must go somewhere”, said Annie Leonard, a famous critic of consumerism. But what happens around “somewhere” when we throw out our wastes? A recent study by a team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, has analyzed the composition of the water that passes through landfills and has dissolved and suspended matter from it, called leachate, from the infamous Mavallipura landfill and has examined its effects on the nearby lakes and wells. Prof. T. V. Ramachandra from the Centre for infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning (CiSTUP) and his team have also highlighted the resulting ill effects and suggested some steps to minimize the same.

Can Lantana Be Weeded Out? Study Says No

A team of Indian ecologists has found that completely eradicating the common weed, Lantana camara, one of the world’s worst invasive plant species, is going to be much harder than previously thought. This study finds that removing lantana poses a major challenge in the Indian landscape owing to its easy dispersal by fruit eating birds. A group of researchers from the Nature Conservation Foundation, Wildlife Institute of India, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Indian Institute of Science from India and CSIRO Land and Water, Australia jointly conducted the study.

The color ‘decoder’

Charles Darwin, in his treatise ‘On the Origin of Species (1853)’, introduced the world to the struggle individuals partake to survive the hostilities of the environment and most strikingly, the sheer diversity and extravagance of natural forms and colors that appear to defy strategies of survival. Over the past century and a half since Darwin, great strides have been made to uncover the hidden complexities in a species’ survival and reproductive game. Spirited new breeds of modern evolutionary biologists have been relentlessly invested in streamlining and magnifying the foci of their investigations. Bolstering such endeavors, novel syntheses and approaches are gradually unveiling the rules of the survival game that species and individuals play by.

Scientists identify environmental factors that constrain Mudumalai forest fires.

In the month of May, over 6000 personnel from the National Disaster Relief Force were deployed for rescue operations in Garwhal and Kumaon districts in Uttarakhand. A rather uncommon, unappreciated disaster had struck that region – forest fires. A recent study by researchers at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore is a significant step towards understanding the cause of devastating forest fires.

Understanding Volatile Communication in the Plant Kingdom

Do plants talk? Contrary to popular beliefs, plants are as equally adept in the art of signalling and communication as their animal counterparts. Prof. Renee M. Borges from the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, has spent many years delving on the many aspects of plants communication and their language.

Malaria- it is not just a human disease

Our world is changing - too much and too fast. Species are moving into higher latitudes and altitudes, often carrying new infectious agents with them. As climate changes, vectors of infectious diseases such as mosquitoes, often find themselves in excellent breeding environmental conditions for extended periods of time. They thrive in these altered climatic conditions, and so do the diseases they carry. Many of these vectors infect wild populations of birds. Many aspects influence disease transmission in birds - evolutionary history of the species, whether it is a migratory or non-migratory species, whether it evolved in isolation (such as on an island) or the mainland (where it was exposed to many parasites), the presence and diversity of vectors (mosquitoes and other arthropods) in its habitat, the structure and composition of the forest it inhabits, and climatic variables that influence bird migration and vector breeding.

Understanding Insect Talk

The first land animals to communicate using sound were, in all probability, insects. Insect acoustics is an exciting field of study that addresses questions such as how insects use their sounds to communicate, how different are the 'languages' or the 'words' that various insects use and how acoustic signals are interpreted by them. An expert in this discipline is Prof. Rohini Balakrishnan from the Center for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.