Research

Coexistence and intraspecific variation

Understanding species coexistence is a crucial part of conservation. Two species coexistence has long been studied using theoretical methods and is an integral part of population biology. Most models consider the species to be monomorphic or assume static intraspecific variation. Intraspecific variation could be dynamic due to stabilising selection, intraspecific and interspecific competition. I have been working on understanding the consequences of intraspecific variation to the two species coexistence problem. My approach is based on capturing the eco-evolutionary dynamics of this problem by extending the classical Lotka-Volterra competition model to continuous traits.

Niche construction theory

Niche construction theory captures a feedback between the biotic component and the abiotic component of a biological system. There are numerous examples of animals, plants and microbes changing their environment. And the environment provides the selection pressure through which evolution takes place. The processes which are part of this feedback happen over ecological and evolutionary timescales which makes it a challenging theoretical question. I am trying to understand this phenomena using eco-evolutionary models. Dr. Joe Bailey has been providing valuable examples and ideas from his work on plant-microbe interactions for this project.

Past projects

Fission-fusion dynamics

Merge-split process

Collective animal movement is a charismatic phenomena which plays an important role in the ecology of several birds, fishes and mammals. Heterospecific bird flocks and ungulate foraging guilds are some common examples of heterogeneous animal groups moving together. Heterogeneity in conspecifics is also not uncommon due to individual differences in behaviour and movement traits. Field observations shows that conspecific animal group size distribution obeys a power law for several taxa. Theoretical models based on fission-fusion dynamics provides a neutral explanation for this pattern. These models assume groups randomly split and merge with other groups. Our goal is to extend this framework to understand heterogeneous groups.

We analysed the extended model analytically and using simulations. With the assumption that heterogeneous groups split more frequently than homogeneous groups, we found that large groups are typically heterogeneous. More details can be found at,

Power dynamics

The Bosses of the Senate

Most modern human societies have persistent power struggles between different individuals or groups of individuals. This power dynamics has its basis in the conflict over resource distribution among the group. We are modelling this as a public good game to explore the power dynamics based on rivalrous, excludable goods. This is work done with Dr. Sergey Gavrilets.

Contact

Office

403A, Austin Peay
1404 Circle Drive
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37916

Email

  • asenthil@vols.utk.edu
  • athmanathansenthilnathan@gmail.com

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