Kavita Isvaran

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Associate Professor
Name: Kavita Isvaran
Affiliations (Departments/Programs): 
Centre for Ecological Sciences
Research Areas: 
Behaviour, Ecology, Evolution
Ecology and evolution of behaviour and life histories, Applying approaches from behavioural ecology and evolution towards conservation

Animals display a bewildering diversity of solutions to similar problems, such as, how to attract mates, whom to mate with, how many offspring to have, and how much resources to allocate to each offspring. I am interested in understanding the ecology and evolution for such diversity in behaviour and life history traits, particularly in social and reproductive traits. Our research is largely with wild populations. Current work focuses on (a) the dynamics of male and female mating strategies in the blackbuck antelope, a species with unusually variable social and reproductive behaviour; and (b) reproductive strategies, sexual selection, and animal personalities in a rock lizard. While detailed studies of individual populations allow us to dissect ecological and evolutionary processes thoroughly, I am also interested in investigating the generality of such processes in nature. To this end, we use phylogenetic comparative methods with interspecific data extracted from the published literature, to investigate patterns of sexual selection across mammals and how this variation relates to ecological conditions, behaviour and sex-differences in life history and morphological traits. I am also interested in the consequences of evolved traits for populations and communities and in applying approaches from behavioural ecology and evolution towards conservation. Our research in these areas include (a) decision-making by endangered antelope in fragmented grasslands and their consequences for conflict with agriculturalists; (b) the adaptiveness of egg-laying behaviour in mosquitoes and their consequences for population dynamics; and (c) mechanisms by which invasive plants influence native butterfly communities.

Research overview video link

Selected Publications: 

Deodhar S and Isvaran K. (2018). Why Do Males Use Multiple Signals? Insights From Measuring Wild Male Behavior Over Lifespans. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 6:75. doi:10.3389/fevo.2018.00075.

Bhave R, Deodhar S, and Isvaran K. (2017). Intrinsic factors are relatively more important than habitat features in modulating risk perception in a tropical lizard. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. 71.

Deodhar S., Isvaran K. (2017). Breeding phenology of the Peninsular rock agama (Psammophilus dorsalis): patterns in time, space and morphology. Current Science 113:2120-2126.

Isvaran K., Sankaran S. (2017). Do extra-group fertilisations consistently increase the potential for sexual selection in male mammals?Biology Letters 13:20170313.

Bhattacharya M., Isvaran K., Balakrishnan R. (2017). A statistical approach to understanding reproductive isolation in two sympatric species of tree crickets. Journal of Experimental Biology 220(7):1222-1232.

Karkarey R., Zambre A., Isvaran K., Arthur R. (2017). Alternative reproductive tactics and inverse size-assortment in a high-density fish spawning aggregation. BMC ecology 17(1):10.

Jambhekar R.M., Isvaran K. (2016). Impact of the invasive weed Lantana camara (Verbenaceae) on butterfly behaviour and habitat use in a tropical forest in India. Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society 70(4):302-310.

Krishna YC., Kumar A., Isvaran K. (2016). Wild ungulate decision-making and the role of tiny refuges in human-dominated landscapes. Plos one 11(3): e0151748.

Murthy A., Sharma M., Amith-Kumar UR., Isvaran K. (2016). Groups constrain the use of risky habitat by individuals: a new cost to sociality. Animal Behaviour 113:167-175.

Naniwadekar R., Shukla U., Isvaran K., Datta A. (2015). Reduced hornbill abundance associated with low seed arrival and altered recruitment in a hunted and logged tropical forest. PloS one 10(3) e0120062.

Varma V., Ratnam J., Viswanathan V., Osuri A.M., Biesmeijer J.C., Madhusudan M.D., Sankaran M., Krishnadas M., Baruah D., Budruki M., Isvaran K., Jayapal R., Joshi J., Karanth K.K., Krishnaswamy J., Kumar R., Mukherjee S., Nagendra H., Niphadkar M., Owen N., Page N., Prasad S., Quader S., Nandini R., Robin V.V., Sait S.M., Shah M.A., Somanathan H., Srinivasan U., Sundaram B. (2015). Perceptions of priority issues in the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems in India. Biological Conservation 187:201-211.