Research

[Links to publications arising from this work can be found on the CV page. Links below are to blog posts discussing the research mentioned.]

2011–2017: I was a graduate student in Jonathan Losos’ lab, in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.  My research included:

  • A historical investigation of evidence for territoriality in Anolis lizards (see here and here for further details and discussion).
  • An empirical examination of variation in movement patterns in a population of Anolis sagrei lizards, with implications for mating systems and sexual selection. Details on this project can be found here.
  • A within-population study of individual variation in the perch use of Anolis sagrei lizards. Here is a nice summary of this research, and here is some backstory.
  • An across-population study of variation in morphology and display behavior in the fan-throated lizard (Sitana and Sarada; Agamidae) species complex. Here is a summary of my findings midway through the project.

 

Sitana ponticeriana in Kutch, India. Copyright Ambika Kamath.

Sitana in Kutch, India.

I am also working on the following collaborations with undergraduate mentees:

  • Variation in dorsal patterning, habitat use, and escape behavior in female Anolis sagrei  (with Rachel Moon).
  • Ecomorphology of the Anolis lizards of La Selva (with Christian Perez).
  • Convergent evolution of head shape in vine snakes (with Christian Perez).
  • Individual variation in the display behavior of male Anolis sagrei lizards (with Jonathan Suh).

 

golden frogs (hylarana aurantiaca)

Western Ghats golden frogs in Agumbe, Karnataka, India.

2011: In collaboration with Sreekar Rachakonda, I investigated the relationships between microhabitat, colour, and calling rates in two spatially distinct breeding populations of the Western Ghats golden frog, a common but poorly studied species. This research was carried out at the Agumbe Rainforest Research Station, Karnataka, India.

2009-2010: In collaboration with Yoel Stuart, I investigated whether North American green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) feed and display in different parts of their habitat, and moreover, whether such behavioural partitioning is affected by changes in habitat due to the presence of a congeneric competitor, Anolis sagrei (summarized here). We also examined if the movement rates of male and female A. carolinensis differed between populations with and without A. sagrei (summarized here and here).

We worked in small dredge-spoil islands–some colonized by only A. carolinensis and others inhabited by both A. carolinensis and A. sagrei–in Mosquito Lagoon, near Cape Canaveral, Florida.

 

IMG_3041

A green anole perching low

2007-2011: I was an undergraduate at Amherst College, where I worked in the Miller/Levin lab on the evolution of sexual dimorphism in the floral biology of Lycium californicum for my honours thesis. I also participated in a project to determine the direction of dispersal of Lycium between Africa and east Asia, using the remarkable S-RNase mating system locus to infer population history.

Lycium californicum in Baja California, Mexico. Copyright Ambika Kamath

Lycium californicum in Baja California, Mexico.

 

At Amherst, I also worked as a field assistant to Ethan Temeles for a project on the coevolution between hummingbird bills and Heliconia flowers.

Purple Throated Carib Hummingbird in Dominica. Copyright Ambika Kamath.

Purple Throated Carib Hummingbird in Dominica.

I took courses with the Organization for Tropical Studies as an undergrad (South Africa Fall 2009) and as a grad student (Costa Rica Spring 2012). Both courses completely changed my outlook on how to do biology.

Male Platysaurus lizard in Mapungubwe, South Africa. Copyright Ambika Kamath

Male Platysaurus lizard in Mapungubwe, South Africa.

<2006: I was born and brought up in India, where I studied at the phenomenal Rishi Valley School. There, I was introduced to ecology and evolutionary biology by Suhel Quader, under whose guidance I studied the location and architecture of antlion larvae pits. Antlions are still one of my favourite organisms! Suhel also advised me on a paper about reductionism, nonlinearity, and a gene’s eye view of natural selection.

A very large antlion in Skukuza, South Africa. Copyright Ambika Kamath.

A very large antlion in Skukuza, South Africa.