Kartik Shanker

kshanker's picture
Associate Professor
Name: Kartik Shanker
Affiliations (Departments/Programs): 
Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Dakshin Foundation, Bangalore
Research Areas: 
Behavior, Ecology, Evolution
Community ecology and macroecology (diversity and distributions), Historical biogeography, phylogeography and phylogenetics, Marine turtle biology and conservation

I am interested in the distribution of diversity at various levels of organisation, from genes to ecosystems, and at various scales from local communities to macro-ecological regional 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. We also work on coastal and marine systems, both along the mainland coast as well as the offshore islands. Our model systems include a range of small vertebrates in forest systems and coastal and marine fauna. We combine field ecology, phylogenetic information and ecological modelling to understand evolutionary and biogeography patterns, and assist conservation prioritisation. 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 mixed foraging flocks of birds, distribution patterns of birds and plants, and phylogeny and biogeography of snakes and frogs. We are also initiating projects on the diversity and distribution of coastal and marine invertebrates.

I am also interested in marine turtle biology and conservation. We are studying leatherback turtles in Little Andaman Island, olive ridley turtles in Orissa, and have initiated studies on green turtles in the Lakshadweep islands, on aspects of population biology, genetics and foraging ecology. We have also initiated a collaborative effort with NGOs along the mainland coast to monitor temperatures, and potential impact of climate change on sea turtle populations through its impact on sex ratios. Our field projects have associated conservation components.

I believe that social and political contexts, spaces and interactions largely determine conservation outcomes. In order to understand and possibly influence these systems, I am involved in research with students and colleagues on the political ecology of conservation, conflict and natural resource management, particularly in coastal and marine systems. As part of this framework, I work with Dakshin Foundation on projects that involve local communities in research, monitoring and conservation.

Selected Publications: 

Page, N. and K. Shanker (2018) Environment and dispersal influence changes in species composition at different scales in woody plants of the Western Ghats, India. Journal of Vegetation Science 29: 74-83.

Shanker, K., K.N. Ganeshaiah and S.P. Vijayakumar (2017) Unpacking the species conundrum: philosophy, practice and ways forward.Journal of Genetics 96: 413-430.

Vijayakumar, S.P., R.C. Menezes, A. Jayarajan and K. Shanker (2016) Glaciations, Gradients and Geography: multiple drivers of diversification of bush frogs in the Western Ghats Escarpment. Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Shanker, K. (2015) From soup to superstar: the story of sea turtle conservation along the Indian coast. HarperCollins, India.

Dutton, P.H. and Shanker, K. (2015) Genetic studies of leatherback turtles: phylogeny, phylogeography and population genetics. In: Biology of leatherback turtles (eds. J.R. Spotila et al.). Johns Hopkins Press, USA.

Bowen, B.W., K. Shanker et al. (2014) Phylogeography Unplugged: Comparative geographic surveys in the genomic era. Bulletin of Marine Sciences 90:13-46.

Vijayakumar, S.P., K.P. Dinesh, M.V. Prabhu & K. Shanker (2014) Lineage delimitation and description of nine new species of bush frogs (Anura: Raorchestes, Rhacophoridae) from the Western Ghats Escarpment. Zootaxa 3893 (4): 451–488.

Sridhar, H. and K. Shanker (2014) Importance of intraspecifically gregarious species in heterospecific foraging associations in a tropical bird community. Oecologia 176:763-770.

Bowen, B.W., K. Shanker et al. (2014) Phylogeography Unplugged: Comparative geographic surveys in the genomic era. Bulletin of Marine Sciences 90:13-46.

Sridhar, H. and K. Shanker (2014) Using intra-flock association patterns to understand why birds participate in mixed species foraging flocks in terrestrial habitats. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 68:185-196.

Puri, M., N. Namboothri and K. Shanker (2014) Multi-scale patterns in co-occurrence of rocky inter-tidal gastropods along the west coast of India. Oikos 123: 345-355.