I am excited to inform you that after my one year long stay in Tucson, I am returning today to Kerala, India! I took the morning 0535 flight from Tucson to San Francisco. I am now waiting for my international flight to Delhi (16 hours!)
Good bye Tucson
Manoj attended the 54th Annual Meeting of the Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC) at Merida, Mexico (9-14 July 2017); he gave a talk presentation on 12 July 2016 on his research on leaf litter insect community
Sinu gave a lecture on leaf cutter bee – plant interactions in the 54th ATBC meeting at Merida, Mexico on 13 July 2017
Asha presented a poster on diurnal ecology of dung beetles in the 54th ATBC meeting at Merida, Mexico on 10 July 2017
Asha attended the GIAN workshop on molecular taxonomy at Mizoram University. She finds it was the best workshop she ever attended that dealt the subject deeply from the basics to the advanced molecular analysis.
Asha wants to share her experience on GIAN workshop
I had a great experience attending the GIAN International workshop on Molecular Entomology and Molecular Phylogeny and Next-Generation Sequencing, jointly organized by the department of Zoology and Biotechnology, Mizoram University from 19-28 June 2017. It was a great chance to listen Prof. Wenqing Zhang from Sun Yatsen University on applications of molecular tools for insect pest management, gene silencing, insecticide resistance and transgenic crops. For me, it was worth meeting Prof. Alfried Vogler who is a beetle specialist. I was inspired from his talks on DNA taxonomy, barcoding and phylogenetics. Also I got a chance to discuss with him on my research work. In short the workshop was worth attending and I had an enriching experience.
Prabitha found a great place to publish her most exciting behavioural ecology paper! See her paper in PlosOne here. 20 days passed, over 800 peoples downloaded the paper! She joined my lab after fascinated by a natgeo video and brought the idea to my lab. Her research demonstrated for the first time a specialized hyperparasitoid wasp was targeted by the manipulated host larva. See a news article based on this research here.
Rajesh and Prashanth published a paper on effect of urbanization on ant community structure in sacred groves of south India in Current Science. The study warns that our sacred groves in urban environment are dominated by the globally-important invasive ant species! See a news article based on our research here!
Sinu published a viewpoint article on role of spirituality on conservation of forests with Margaret Lowman in BioScience (direct link here), the premier journal of the American Institute of Biological Science. This is our joint paper from the recently established institutional collaboration between CU-Kerala and California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, which was initiated by Sinu. Through this article, we welcome the spiritual leaders to join their hands with the conservation agencies for continued protection of the lore, heritage, and myths associated with the cultural forests.
“It is not just forests, but a heritage, a live museum, and a paleontologically, archeologically, environmentally, ecologically, and historically-important site” Sinu says about the sacred groves of India. Currently, everybody recommends attaching these forests to the national protected forests to pitch in conservation! But, I would argue that these forests should be given the status of national monuments! If we have money to protect a fort, we should not be hesitated to spend for conservation of sacred groves as well!
The 2015-16 M.Sc. dissertation team of the lab (Sibisha, Jasna, Nikhila Reshmi, Reshmi, Aswathi, Megha) has just published a great paper on impact of invasive ants on crop pollination in the journal, Biological Invasions (direct link here); I congratulate the team of six students for covering the whole flowering cycle of field vegetable crops! They examined the flower sex ratio and sex expression in pumpkin! This is our second publication from the flagship program of the lab, The Flower Watch!
Our another M.Sc. dissertation student, Mehrabi collaborated in our project on litter insect community and published a paper with Manoj in Environmental Entomology. (direct link here) Perhaps, in the history of parasitic hymenoptera research, this is the first time a study shows the need to study the litter stratum for the mysterious diversity of parasitic hymenoptera. Yes! it needs time, resources, and patients to sort out the .3 mm size parasitoid wasps from the debris collected in the pitfalls! Our research continues on other taxa!
Sinu’s paper on leaf foraging plants of leaf cutter bees has been published in Apidologie, a leading journal dedicated for bee studies. The lab assigned this very novel project to two summer research fellows (Sneha Kambli from Pondicherry University and Aiswarya from IISER-Mohali). Sinu is continuing this research in India and other biogeographical zones in collaboration with Judith Bronstein at the University of Arizona and Sevan Suni at the Harvard University, USA.
Sinu recently contributed an invited article on Ecosystem services in the ENVIS newsletter! See the article here
Roshnath published his research on nesting ecology of heronry birds in Current Zoology. (direct link here) It is a part of his decade old monitoring of the birds in the Malabar region of Kerala. The study convincingly argue that the avenue plants are not only giving a shade for you but also giving a great strata for the birds that acclimatised to the urban system. So, manage your urban trees well! Do not cut the whole tree for the sake of development, thin the tree by cutting some branches of large trees, so they do not fall on you during torrential rainfall!