Vishwesha Guttal

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Assistant Professor
Name: Vishwesha Guttal
Affiliations (Departments/Programs): 
Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc Math Initiative
Research Areas: 
Behavior, Ecology, Evolution
Theoretical ecology and evolution, Self-organization and spatial evolutionary ecology, Applications of nonequilibrium statistical physics to ecology.

I am most fascinated by self-organization, emergent patterns and spatiotemporal dynamics in the ecological world, from flocks of birds and swarming insects to striking spatial patterns of vegetation. A fundamental theme of my research is to understand how these macroscopic patterns emerge from local interactions among their constituents. I address questions arising from these systems from the perspective of both ecology and evolution. I am interested in developing mathematical and statistical methods for being able to predict future dynamics of ecological systems, in particular those that may exhibit unexpected and dramatic changes and are continually subjected to human and other environmental stressors.

To address these questions use a strong interdisciplinary approach by integrating principles of non-equilibrium statistical physics and other mathematical disciplines with those of ecology and evolutionary biology. To test our predictions of mathematical models, or to parameterize them, we employ real data from experiments, field observations, satellite imagery, etc. Specifically, I have looked at formation of ant-trails, evolution of collective animal motion in the context of migration and predation, formation of vegetation patterns and how they are influenced by environmental perturbations, etc. I have looked at how ecological systems may suddenly undergo catastrophic shifts from one state to another, and how we can use principles of phase-transitions in physics to develop early warning signals of such shifts.

Selected Publications: 

Christos C Ioannou, Vishwesha Guttal, Iain D Couzin, 2012, Predatory fish select for coordinated collective motion in virtual prey. Science. 337: 1212-1215,

Vishwesha Guttal*, Pawel Romanczuk*, Stephen J Simpson, Gregory A Sword, Iain D Couzin, 2012, Cannibalism as a driver of the evolution of phase polyphenism in locusts, Ecology Letters, Vol 15:1158-1166.

Vishwesha Guttal, Iain D. Couzin, 2010, Social interactions, information use and the evolution of collective migration, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 107:16172-16177.

Vishwesha Guttal, C. Jayaprakash. 2009, Spatial variance and spatial skewness: Leading indicators of regime shifts in spatial ecological systems, Theoretical ecology, 2:3-12.

Vishwesha Guttal, C. Jayaprakash. 2008, Changing Skewness: An early warning signal of regime shifts in ecological systems, Ecology Letters 11:450-460.


Associate, Indian Academy of Sciences (April 2013-2016)

DBT Ramalingaswami Fellowship (April 2012-2017)

Lotka Award for Best Theoretical Ecology Presentation, Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting, 2008

Presidential Fellowship, The Ohio State University 2007-08

Indian Institute of Science Young Fellow