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on May 8, 2007 at 2:19:52 pm
 
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<h1 id="page-title"><div id='g_title'>work</div></h1>
<div style="clear: both;"></div>
<p class="description"><div id='g_description'><p><a href="home">Home</a> &nbsp;</p></div></p>
<div style="clear: both"></div>
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<h3><font size="6">Research Interests</font></h3>

<p><font face="verdana" size="2">&nbsp;</font></p><p><font face="verdana" size="2">I am primarily interested in the behavioural ecology of spiders. Since spiders are relatively sedentary and easy to maintain in lab conditions, I think that they are ideal study subjects. I have long been fascinated with the strategies used by spiders to manipulate their environment, such as in web-site choice or by adopting a colonial or social mode of existence. Lately, my interests in spider behaviour has led me to investigate the function of web decorations. Using controlled experiments, I am now studying the interactions between a typical prey (such as a honey bee or a stingless bee) and a decorating spider</font></p>
<br>

<p><font face="verdana" size="2">.</font><font size="4"><font face="verdana" size="2"> </font><br></font></p>

<h3><font size="6">Current Project</font></h3>

<p><font face="verdana">&nbsp;</font></p><p><font face="verdana">Orb-web spiders use webs to capture prey. In a number of Australian species, the spiders decorate their webs with conspicuous silk bands. There is evidence that these decorations increase prey capture, but it is still disputed how this works. Decorations may attract prey by reflecting UV light, or they may obscure the spider in the web. For my Ph D, I am studying the behavioural interactions between prey and web rather than simply monitoring whether prey are captured or not. The project consists of -laboratory and field experiments examining the conditions under which honeybees and native bees are captured. The local St Andrew's Cross spider (<em>Argiope keyserlingi</em>) provides the webs; they can be induced to construct webs with and without decorations in the lab. Webs are set up in a semi-natural bee laboratory with natural light, between a feeder (for bees) and the beehive. The conditions under which bees avoid or fly into webs can then be studied by analysing trajectories of bees using video. Proportion and behaviour of bees captured can be recorded under different conditions. Independent variables of interest include the presence, shape, and size of web decorations, wind conditions (which can create movement and thus additional cues in the web), and background visual conditions, all of which can be manipulated. Webs will be taken to the field to corroborate findings and predictions under natural conditions.</font></p>
</div>
</div>
</div>
</div>
</div>
</div>
</div>

<p><font size="4">&nbsp;</font></p><p style="text-align: left;"><font size="4">&nbsp;</font></p><h3><font size="6">Publications</font></h3>

<div style="text-align: left;"><h3>&nbsp;<font size="4"><strong>Spiders</strong></font></h3></div>

<p><font face="verdana"><strong>&nbsp;Rao, D.</strong>, Cheng, K &amp; Herberstein, ME. (in review) A natural history of web decorations in the St. Andrew’s Cross Spider (<i>Argiope keyserlingi</i>) Australian Journal of Zoology<br><br>F. J. Hoese, E. A. J. Law, <strong>Rao, D.&nbsp;</strong> &amp; M. E. Herberstein. Distinctive yellow bands on a sit-and-wait predator: prey attractant or predator deterrent? Behavior<br><br><strong>Rao, D.</strong> and Poyyamoli, G. 2001. Role of structural requirements in website selection of Cyrtophora cicatrosa Stolicza (Araneae: Araneidae). <a href="cicatrosa.pdf">Current Science 81:678-680</a><br><br>Ziv, M., <strong>Rao, D.</strong> and Lubin Y. (in prep). Life history and habitat preference of a colonial spider, Cyrtophora citricola (Araneae: Araneidae) in a hyper-arid region.<br><br><b>Rao, D.</b> and Lubin, Y. (in prep.) Dispersion in a desert spider.</font><br></p>
<hr>
<h3><font face="georgia"><strong>Conservation Biology</strong></font></h3><p>&nbsp;</p>

<p><font face="verdana">Barve, N., Kiran, M. C. Vanaraj, G., Aravind, N. A.,&nbsp; <strong>Rao</strong>, <b>D</b>., Shaanker, R. U., Ganeshaiah, K. N., Poulsen, J. G.&nbsp; and Bawa., K. S.&nbsp; 2005. Measuring and mapping threats to protected areas: developing a common protocol from a wildlife sanctuary in Western Ghats, India. <a href="threat.pdf">Conservation Biology, Vol. 19, NO. 1, pp122-130</a><br><br>Aravind, N. A., Manjunath, J., <strong>Rao</strong>, <b>D</b>., Ganeshaiah, K. N., Shaanker, R. U. and Vanaraj, G. 2005. Are red-listed species threatened? A comparative analysis of red-listed and non-red-listed plant species in the Western Ghats, India. <a href="RETpaper.pdf">Current Science, 88(2):25</a><br><br>Shaanker, R. U., Ganeshaiah, K. N., Krishnan, S., Ramya, R., Meera, C., Aravind, N. A., Kumar, A., <strong>Rao</strong>, <b>D</b>., Vanraj,&nbsp; G., Ramachandra , J., Gauthier, R., Ghazoul, J., Poole, N., Reddy, B.V. C. 2004. Livelihood gains and ecological costs of NTFP dependence: assessing the roles of dependence, ecological knowledge and market structure in three contrasting human and ecological settings in South India. <a href="livelihood.pdf">Environmental Conservation 31 (3): 242–253</a> <br><br>Aravind, N. A., <strong>Rao</strong>, <b>D</b>. and&nbsp; Madhusudan, P.S.&nbsp; 2001. Additions to the birds of Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary, Western Ghats, India. Zoos' Print, Vol. 27 (7): 541-547. <br><br>Aravind N. A., <strong>Rao</strong>, <b>D</b>., Vanaraj, G., Poulsen, J. G., Shaanker, R. U., Ganeshaiah, K. N. 2001. Anthropogenic pressures in a tropical forest ecosystem in Western Ghats, India: Are they sustainable? Eds. K. N. Ganeshaiah, R. Uma Shaanker and K. S. Bawa In: Tropical Ecosystems: Structure, Diversity and Function. Pp. 125-128.<b> </b><br></font> </p>
<hr>
<h3><strong>Book Chapter</strong>&nbsp;</h3><p><font face="verdana">Aravind, N. A and <strong>Rao, D.</strong> 2001. Biodiversity: An introduction. Pages 1-25, in B.B. Hosetti, and M. Venkateshwaralu (editors), Current Trends In Wildlife Conservation And Management. Daya Book House, New Delhi, India</font></p>

<p> </p>

<h3><font size="6">Previous Projects&nbsp;</font></h3>

<ul>
<li><font face="verdana" size="4">2003</font><font face="verdana"> Visitor to the <a target="_blank" title="External link to http://ces.iisc.ernet.in" href="http://ces.iisc.ernet.in/">Center for Ecological Sciences</a>, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India: working on a project concerning kin recognition and dispersal in a social spider Stegodyphus sarasinorum (in association with Dr. Yael Lubin, Ben Gurion University, Israel)<br></font><font face="verdana" size="4">&nbsp;</font></li>
<li><font face="verdana" size="4">1999-2000</font><font face="verdana"> <a target="_blank" title="External link to http://www.atree.org" href="http://www.atree.org/">Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment</a>, Bangalore.<br><br>Research Associate for the following projects:<br><br> * <strong>Assessment of biodiversity of lesser-known and functionally important groups in Nagarahole National park</strong>. Funded by World Bank through Karnataka Forest Department.<br><br> * <strong>Mapping of rare endangered and threatened medicinal plant resources in medicinal plant conservation areas (MPCA), Karnataka</strong>. Funded by <a target="_blank" title="External link to http://www.frlht.org.in" href="http://www.frlht.org.in/">Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions</a> Bangalore.<br><br> * ‘<strong>Assessing the impact of anthropogenic pressures on biodiversity of a tropical forest ecosystem in India</strong>. Funded by Center for International Forestry Research (<a target="_blank" title="External link to http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/" href="http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/">CIFOR</a>), Indonesia.<br><br> * <strong>Impact of invasive species on the diversity, health and productivity of ecosystems: A study in the tropical forests of South India</strong>. Funded by <a target="_blank" title="External link to http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/" href="http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/">Center for International Forestry Research</a>, Indonesia.<br><br> * <strong>Mapping of birds and butterfly diversity of Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple Wildlife Sanctuary</strong><br><br></font><font face="verdana" size="4">&nbsp;</font></li>
<li><font face="verdana" size="4">1999</font><font face="verdana"> <a target="_blank" title="External link to http://www.greenconserve.com/index.htm" href="http://www.greenconserve.com/index.htm">GREEN</a> Foundation, Bangalore.<br><br> * <strong>Writer and coordinator for the production of a CD ROM entitled “Cultivating Seed Links - An interactive CDROM on bio-diversity and its conservation</strong><br><br></font><font face="verdana" size="4">&nbsp;</font></li>

<li><font face="verdana" size="4">1999</font><font face="verdana"> <a target="_blank" title="External link to http://ces.iisc.ernet.in" href="http://ces.iisc.ernet.in/">Center for Ecological Sciences</a>, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore<br><br> * Research Assistant for a project involving the use of plantations for carbon sequestration</font></li>
</ul>

<h3><font size="4">&nbsp;<font size="6">Education</font></font></h3>

<ul>
<li><font face="verdana">&nbsp;2004- Ph.D.<br>Macquarie University<br>Thesis Title: Predator-prey interactions in an orb web spider<br>Supervisors: Drs Ken Cheng and Mariella Herberstein<br><br>&nbsp;</font></li>

<li><font face="verdana">2001-2003 M.Sc.<br>Albert Katz International School for Desert Studies. Sede Boqer, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel<br>Thesis title: Dispersion and dispersal in a desert spider: Cyrtophora citricola<br>Supervisor: Prof Yael Lubin<br><br>&nbsp;</font></li>
<li><font face="verdana">1996-1998 M.S.<br>Salim Ali School of Ecology, Pondicherry University, Pondicherry<br>Thesis title: Web site selection in the tropical tent spider: Cyrtophora cicatrosa<br>Supervisor: Dr. G. Poyyamoli<br><br>&nbsp;</font></li>

<li><font face="verdana">1993-1996 B.Sc.<br>St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore University.<br>Thesis title: Sanctuary management and conservation in a bird reserve.<br>Supervisor: Dr. Keith Simento<br><br>&nbsp;</font></li>

<li><font face="verdana">1998 Graduate from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), U.S.A</font></li>
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