Abstract: Understanding animal societies has long been of interest to behavioural ecologists and has important consequences for wildlife conservation. Her past and current research examines several aspects of social behaviour, using long-term field observations, genetic data, and simulations, of a long-lived, endangered mammal, the Asian elephant. Using 6-8 years of data on identified Asian elephants of the Kabini elephant population (Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks), She examined the effects of male age and female presence on male- male associations, explored some aspects of musth (a rut-like mate-searching strategy) and the effect of musth on male associations, and investigated the nature of agonistic interactions among male elephants. More recently, She was involved in a project examining movement, associations, and the payoff of musth as a mate-searching strategy in male elephants, using an agent-based model. Her future research will be informed by her experience studying mammal behaviour and working with long-term datasets, while expanding focus to animals with different current and past relationships to humans. Goats in India are widely kept and important in poverty alleviation and rural development programmes, and She is planning to conduct a long-term study of goat behaviour and welfare. The study would be one of the first of its kind, benefit the animals and the communities that live with them, while also providing a convenient system to explore many facets of mammal social organisation. She is also planning to compare behaviour of other species in different social environments such as captive and wild conditions and will talk about these ideas.
Bio: Dr. Keerthipriya P. completed a B.Tech degree in Industrial Biotechnology from Anna University, Chennai, and joined the Animal Behaviour and Sociogenetics Lab at the Evolutionary and Organismal Biology Unit, Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research as a PhD student. As a PhD student, and later as a postdoc, she worked on the social behavior and reproductive strategies of adult and subadult male Asian elephants in Nagarahole and Bandipur National Parks. She has also contributed to projects on female elephant sociality, elephant movement simulations, trunk lateralisation, and the role of kinship in elephant societies. Her research interests are broadly in the areas of animal behaviour, cognition and welfare of animals, and how they are affected by individual and group characteristics, resource-risk distribution, social networks, and interactions with the human world. Dr. Keerthipriya is also a freelance artist, primarily portraying the natural world.