Thesis Defense at CES on 19 July 2019 at 2:30 pm titled "Ecology of predator-prey interactions in the context of mate searching" by Viraj Torsekar from CES, IISc
Animals communicating in the context of mate searching benefit by obtaining mates, but also experience costs. Empirical work studying effect of predation on such communication has largely been addressed in an evolutionary context. How individuals trade-off risks and benefits of communication in an ecological context has, however, received much less attention. With this backgroud, my thesis aims at understanding the ecology of predator-prey interactions in the context of mate searching communication, using the tree cricket Oecanthus henryi as a model system. I first estimated the relative predation risk experienced by communicating and non-communicating, male and female crickets from their primary predators, green lynx spiders, at multiple spatial scales within a night. Next, I manipulated predation risk in enclosure experiments and observed how it affects mate searching behaviour and survival, to compare their relative fitness consequences. Finally, I examined how crickets and spiders use space at two different spatial scales, in order to explore whether crickets behaviourally manage the risk they experience while searching for mates.