PEOPLE: NIKHIL GAITONDE

Nikhil Gaitonde
PhD student, Biodiversity Lab, NCBS

I am a graduate student in Dr. Krushnamegh Kunte’s lab at the National Centre for Biological Sciences. I love observing animals and my research interests lie in sexual selection, reproductive biology, prey-predator interactions, life history theory and evolutionary genetics. I am currently studying the mimetic female forms of a swallowtail butterfly, Papilio polytes. This species showcases female-limited polymorphic mimicry. I study its behavior, life history, and mating system to better comprehend the evolution and maintenance of mimetic polymorphisms.

I also study mating system of a Night frog Nyctibatrachus petraeus, which is endemic to the tropical evergreen forests of the Western Ghats of India. Night frogs have several unique reproductive biology aspects such as large terrestrial eggs, extremely high male mating success and high polyandry. Using field observations and experiments I am trying to understand what traits in males influence female choice and contribute to their mating success, as well as the factors driving high level of polyandry.

Prior to coming to NCBS, I was doing my Masters at the Department of Zoology, University of Pune. For my thesis I studied prey-predator interactions using a dragonfly nymph – tadpole mesocosm system. I was particularly interested in the strategies that prey use to minimize the tradeoff between predator avoidance and foraging. Also studied whether prey species at low density perceive risk to be higher than their counterparts at high density at equal levels of background risk.
My other interests include natural history, Indian classical music, travelling, exploring cuisines, hiking and photography. Email me if you want to know more.

 

Publications:

Gaitonde, N., V. Giri, and K. Kunte. 2016. ‘On the Rocks’: reproductive biology of the endemic toad Xanthophryne (Anura: Bufonidae) from the Western Ghats, India. Journal of Natural History, 50:25572572. PDF file (3.2MB, has colour figures).

Gaitonde, N., and V. Giri. 2014. Primitive breeding in an ancient Indian frog genus Indirana. Current Science, 107:109-112. PDF file (604KB). Also covered in Current Science's In this issue.