Around 33.5 million years ago, during the Eocene–Oligocene period, there was an abrupt shift towards a cooler drier climate. This resulted in a corresponding shift in biological diversity globally. In Peninsular India, the study of fossil pollens suggests a shift from wet rainforest vegetation to dry and seasonal species during this period. However, the grassland and open habitats that dominate the region today expanded relatively recently as a result of the Late Miocene aridification ~ 11 million years ago.
Studying adaptive radiations, such as Darwin's finches from the Galápagos Islands, can give us key insights into generalities of ecomorphological diversification. This paper from the Karanth lab examines morphological diversification in Hemidactylus geckos from Peninsular India that occur in a wide range of microhabitats.
Image credit: Deepak Veerappan
Deepak. V (a postdoc) and Praveen Karanth show that fan-throated lizards consist of at least 15 species, with much of the diversification dating back to 8–5 million years and possibly caused by climatic shifts in India in that period. This is one of the few studies that establishes a link between climate change and adaptation in the Indian subcontinent. The study also highlights the importance of the dry zone as centers of biodiversity.
Its raining bush frogs in the Western Ghats
Kartik Shanker and SP Vijayakumar
Should you find yourself wandering in the cloud-drenched mountains of the Western Ghats, you would be engulfed by a cacophony of frog calls. Many of these will be bush frogs, a group of miniature frogs distributed throughout south and southeast Asia. Some are so small that they can be accommodated on your thumbnail!
A recently published research work of Manjari Jain, a former PhD student of Prof. Rohini Balakrishnan and now a faculty at IISER Mohali, has been covered in Indiabioscience. A quote from the article:
Male crickets court their females through song. But in the wild, several species of crickets call together in a cacophonic chorus. Researchers from the Indian Institute of Science used a series of experiments that combined rigorous fieldwork and elaborate modeling to find out how the male’s song reaches its mate through the apparent din.