What is a Lion’s share in the Anthropocene? Ecology of Predator-prey Interactions in Human-modified Landscapes
Abstract: Animals show a fascinating diversity in solutions to similar problems. To escape predators, a gazelle might jump and display, whereas a cricket might camouflage to avoid detection. One reasonable explanation for such diversity is that it is adaptive and has been shaped historically by multiple selection pressures. However, animals increasingly interact in novel conditions due to the intense modification of wildlife habitats by humans. This modifies the landscape of refuges for prey to escape or for the predator to ambush its prey. Through her work, She argue for developing a theory that focuses on understanding the causes and consequences of species interactions in habitats where both humans and non-human animals are adapting to rapid change. Her research combines principles from behavioural ecology and evolution, and population ecology to contribute to our understanding of the dynamics of predator-prey interactions in changing landscapes. In this talk, She will discuss her work that is based on studying remarkably different predator-prey model systems – snow leopards and wild ungulates, and dragonflies and mosquitoes – investigating multiple aspects of the predation sequence. She will discuss how mosquitoes have evolved bet-hedging as a strategy to escape predation, and how bharal populations, the main prey of snow leopards, thrive in intensively grazed regions. As contemporary ecology increasingly studies highly modified systems, future research needs to embrace the complexity of novel conditions to produce knowledge for conservation action. She will discuss how her work aims to understand the human-wildlife relationships for conservation in the ever-changing snow leopard landscapes.
Bio: Dr. Manvi Sharma is a behavioural ecologist interested in studying the diversity in predator and prey traits and how biological communities interact in the changing world. She is a post-doctoral fellow at the High Altitudes Program at Nature Conservation Foundation, Bangalore, where she is studying the predator-prey ecology of the charismatic snow leopard and wild ungulates in the Spiti Valley. She did her PhD from the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science with Dr. Kavita Isvaran. For her doctoral thesis, she combined experimental and observation based-approaches to study dragonfly and mosquito behaviour in the rock pools around the Rishi Valley school. Throughout her research career, she has been interested in quantitative methods for ecological research and has been involved in organising discussions on data analyses and statistical modelling. She is deeply interested in the Himalayan landscapes and the human-nature relationships in these fragile mountain ecosystems. At the Nature Conservation Foundation, she has worked closely with government departments and local villagers on assessments of snow leopard populations and work towards their conservation. If not talking about work, she can be found playing Ultimate Frisbee, solving cryptic crosswords, or spending a day in a bookstore.