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Courses are offered to students over two semesters per year, covering a vast range of topics such as animal behaviour, evolutionary biology, biogeography, community ecology, theoretical and quantitative ecology.

 

Centre for Ecological Sciences (Courses 2021 - 2022)

EC 101 (AUG) 1:0

Process of Scientific Thinking (Compulsory course)

Approaches of scientific practice and research conduct. Historical perspective of various philosophies of science and the process of scientific thinking (e.g. deduction, induction and Inference by Best Explanation). Ethics in conducting, writing, and publishing science (including plagiarism), best practices for replicable research. How to read and review scientific literature critically.

Maria Thaker

References:

· Samir Okasha. 2016. Philosophy of Science: a very short introduction. Oxford University Press

 

EC 202 (AUG) 2:0

Ecology: Pattern and Process

History of ecology; interactions between organisms and the environment; ecological niche; distribution of species and communities; basic population biology; interspecific interactions; community assembly; diversity, richness and abundance; ecosystem structure and function; species concepts; ecological and evolutionary processes (dispersal and diversification); island biogeography; meta-population biology; macroecology.

Kartik Shanker and Umesh Srinivasan

References:

· A.E. Magurran, Measuring Biological Diversity, Blackwell Publishing, 2004.

· J.H. Brown and M.V. Lomolino, Biogeography (Second Edition), Sinauer Associates, 1998.

· Pianka, E.R. Evolutionary Ecology. Eric R. Pianka, e-book, 2011.

 

EC 301 (AUG) 2:1

Animal Behaviour: Mechanisms and Evolution

History and classical ethology; sensory processing and neural maps; learning and memory; hormones and behavior; behavioral genetics; navigation and communication; optimality approaches and evolutionary models to understand strategies for foraging, competition, group living, sexual selection and mate choice, parental care, predator-prey interactions.

Rohini Balakrishnan, Maria Thaker

 

References:

· Animal Behavior (Second Edition). Michael D. Breed, Janice Moore (2016) Elsevier

· Neuroethology – J. M. Camhi (1984) Sinauer Associates, Sunderland.

· Behavioural Ecology: An Evolutionary Approach. J. R. Krebs & N. B. Davies (1991) Blackwell Press, Oxford University Press.

· An Introduction to Behavioural ecology. J. R. Krebs, N. B. Davies and S. A. West (2012) Blackwell Press, Oxford University Press.

 

EC 302 (AUG) 2:1

Plant-Animal Interactions (Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution)

The sensory biology of the interaction between plants, their animal mutualists and parasites: vision, chemoreception, olfaction and multimodal signalling; energetics of plant–animal interactions; nectar, floral and vegetative scents and pollen chemistry; stable isotopes in the study of plant–animal interactions; mate choice in plants; evolution of floral and fruit traits; phenotypic plasticity and inducible defenses in plants; behavioural and physiological processes in generalist and specialist herbivores, pollinators and seed dispersers; co-evolutionary dynamics of symbiosis, mutualisms and arms races

Renee M Borges

References:

• Chittka,L. and Thompson,J. D. (Eds.),Cognitive Ecology of Pollination — Animal Behaviour and Floral Evolution. Cambridge University Press,2001.

 

EC 303 (AUG) 2:1 

Stochastic and Spatial Dynamics in Biology

This course will cover topics on stochastic and spatial dynamics in biology that will have applications
to various topics such as the ecology of species to pattern formation in cellular systems. Tentative
topics are: 1) Single-species dynamics accounting for stochasticity and space; using bifurcation
theory, reaction-diffusion and integrodifferential equations, Fisher Kolmogorov equations, Fokker-
Planck and Langevin equations, etc. 2) Multi-species dynamics. Predator-prey and competition
dynamics, etc. 3) Self-organization and pattern formations in biological systems; Turing patterns;
swarm dynamics and swarm intelligence (agent-based models; non-equilibrium statistical physics),
etc. Concepts of Phase Transitions in Biology.

Vishwesha Guttal
 

References:
• Gardiner, Stochastic Methods A Handbook for the Natural and Social Sciences, Springer, (Ed 4 in
2009) ISBN 978-3-540- 70712-7
• Murray, Mathematical Biology, Springer (Ed 3 in 2002), 978-1-4757-7709-3
Pre-requisites: • EC 201 or equivalent (nonlinear dynamics, programming, basic probability and
distributions)

Link: https://teelabiisc.wordpress.com/2021/07/29/course-on-stochastic-spatial-dynamics-in-the-coming-semester/

 

EC 305 (AUG) 2:1

Quantitative Ecology: Research Design and Inference

This course will focus on study design and statistical modelling in ecology. We will examine elements of effective study design, common pitfalls in study design and data collection, and the confrontation of ecological hypotheses with data using different statistical approaches and frameworks of inference. Throughout, we will examine concepts using examples from ecology, animal behaviour and evolution. The course will aim to provide proficiency to carry out various statistical techniques commonly used in ecology using the software R. The main topics that will be covered are: The scientific process in ecology; framing ecological questions; elements of study design; confronting ecological models with data; understanding the nature of data; statistical hypothesis testing; linear models, regression, ANOVA; generalised linear models; statistical modelling strategies

Pre-requisites: A background in ecology, behaviour or evolution, either in the form of courses taken, or projects done, or projects that you propose to do in ecology/behaviour/evolution

Kavita Isvaran

References:

• Gotelli NJ and Ellison AM (2013) A Primer of Ecological Statistics. Sinauer

• Zuur A, Ieno EN and GM Smith 2007 Analysing ecological data. Springer

 

DB 202 (AUG) 2:0

General Biology

Biology and the natural sciences; Growth of biological thought; Matter and life; Origin of life; History of life on earth; Bacteria and Protists; Fungi and other primitive plants; Seed bearing plants; Animals without backbones; Insects, Vertebrates, Phylogeny and Systematics; Mechanisms of Evolution; Chemical basis of life; Cellular basis of life; Selected topics in plant and animal physiology; Selected topics in plant and animal ecology; Selected topics in sensory biology and neurobiology; Behavioral ecology and sociobiology; Biological diversity on earth; Complexity; Molecular versus Organismal approaches to solving problems in Science.

Renee M. Borges

References:

Peter Medawar (1984). Pluto's Republic: Incorporating The Art of the Soluble and Induction and Intuition in Scientific Thought

D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson (1942). On Growth and Form (Edited and Abridged by John Tyler Bonner, 1992).

 

EC 201 (JAN) 2:1

Theoretical and Mathematical Ecology

Basic elements of theoretical ecology, building and analyzing mathematical models of ecological systems, generating new ecological insights and hypotheses. Discrete and continuous population models; nonlinear dynamics and bifurcations in ecological models; incorporating stochasticity and space; random walks in ecology and evolution; game theory and ESS; Price equation and levels of selection.

Vishwesha Guttal

References:

• Strogatz, Nonlinear Dynamics And Chaos: With Applications To Physics, Biology, Chemistry, And Engineering Westview Press 2014, 2nd edition, (ISBN: 978-0738204536)

* Nicholas Gotelli, A primer of Ecology, RedShelf, 2008, (ISBN: 9781605354088)

 

EC 204 (JAN) 2:1

Evolutionary Biology

This course offers an in-depth, hands-on look at the basic principles of evolutionary biology, and discusses the recent advancements and the major ideas in the field. The course has a special emphasis on phylogenetics, population genetics, molecular evolution, genome evolution, and offers exposure to a wide range of theoretical and practical aspects for understanding the micro- and macroevolutionary processes that shape the diversity of life on earth.

Praveen Karanth K, Kartik Sunagar

References:

• Futuyma,D. J.,Evolutionary Biology (Third Edition),Sinauer Associates,1998.Li

 

EC 309 (JAN) 2:0

Ecosystems and Global Change

This course will consist of lectures, readings and discussion, and a final class-project. It will have two 1-hr long sessions every week. In lectures, the instructor will cover topics related to ecosystem ecology, biogeochemical cycles, feedbacks between global change and ecosystem functions. The overall aim will be to introduce the different aspects of global change (e.g., rising CO2, altered precipitation, nutrient deposition, land-use and land-cover change, etc.) and their linkages with ecosystem functions. Through assigned readings, students will develop a broad understanding of how biogeochemistry provides a common premise to understand these linkages. Students will be evaluated upon their performance in a mid-semester exam, and a final class-project. The class-project is envisioned to be a review or synthesis (e.g., meta-analysis of primary literature) of a topic that is relevant to ecosystem ecology or global change.

Sumanta Bagchi

References:

• Schlesinger WH, and E Bernhardt (2013). Biogeochemistry: An analysis of global change. 3rd ed, 688 pp. Academic Press. ISBN 9780123858740

Pre-requisites: • EC202/EC203

 

BC 207 (JAN) 2:0

Integrative Approaches in Biology

Historically, data collection, particularly at the molecular level, has presented the major bottleneck for the advancement of science. For example, in the early years of DNA sequencing technologies, human genome sequencing incurred expenses in billion US dollars and took more than a decade to complete. In contrast, in the modern era of ‘omics’ technologies, this costs less than $1000 and a day for sequencing to assembly. The advent of high-throughput technologies has, similarly, revolutionized numerous fields of biology. ‘Big data’ generated by these approaches offers various opportunities and challenges alike.

This course will provide an in-depth knowledge of principles and state-of-the-art practices in ‘omics’ approaches and their application in various fields of biology, including ecology, evolutionary biology, genetics, and biomedical research. This course will consist of lectures, discussions, and hands-on bioinformatic and experimental sessions, which will introduce students to various aspects of data acquisition, processing, and analyses.

Kartik Sunagar (CES) and Utpal Tatu (Biochemistry)

References:

• Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics, Pevsner (3rd edition)

• Practical Computing for Biologists, Haddock and Dunn

• Primrose SB, Twyman RM (2006). Principles of gene manipulation and genomics. Blackwell Publishing

• Simpson R (2002). Proteins and proteomics: A laboratory manual. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

Pre-requisites: • None