Cethosia cyane

Cethosia cyane. Photo: Ullasa

The IISER-TVM Centre for Research & Education in Ecology and Evolution (ICREEE) is part of the School of Biology, IISER Thiruvananthapuram (IISER-TVM). The centre currently consists of more than about 30 researchers and students under two research labs





Apis. Photo: Maciej A. Czyzewski

Apis. Photo: Maciej A. Czyzewski

Our research spans the following themes

  • Co-evolutionary interactions between
    • Plants and pollinators
    • Insect and hostplants
    • Wolbachia and insect hosts
    • Prey and predators
  • Sensory Ecology
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Phylogenetics and Comparative work
  • Population genetics, phylogeography and biogeography
  • Landscape ecology
  • Plant reproductive strategies


Study systems


Marked Stegodaphys sarasinorum with Apis cerana. Photo: Bharat Parthasarathy

Our work is primarily question-based, rather than organism-based, and current study systems that include

  • Insects (primarily butterflies and bees)
  • Social spiders (Stegodyphus sarasinorum)
  • Plants
  • Reptiles

We also work on questions at the level of landscape/community:

  • Myristica swamps
  • Rocky plateaus of Northern Western Ghats
  • Deciduous forests in Bhimashanker


Ongoing research projects

The Vanasiri and BEE group websites have more detailed information on respective research projects. Below is a sample of ongoing projects


Memecylon. Photo: Ullasa

  • Landscape ecology and pollinators of Myristica swamps.
  • Evolution of sociality in spiders
  • Spatio-temporal dynamics of diversification of hyper-diverse taxa
  • Sensory ecology of honey bee vision
  • Hostplant ecology of Acraea butterflies
  • Phylogenetics  and comparative biogeography of plants of the Western Ghat
  • Phenotypic plasticity in satyrine butterflies in relation to seasonal environments
  • Macroevolutionary dynamics of lizard colour patterns
  • Diversification of uropeltid snakes in the Indian subcontinent
  • Geneflow and divergence across rocky plateaus in the Northern Western Ghats



Uropeltis madurensis. Photo: Vivek P Cyriac

We collaborate actively with many research groups.



Myristica fragrans: From Köhler’s Medizinal Pflanzen

Our research is funded by

  • Department of Biotechnology (DBT)
  • Department of Science and Technology (DST)
  • Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
  • UKIERI (India-United Kingdom)
  • The Royal Society (United Kingdom)
  • DST-RFBR (India-Russia)
  • IISER Thiruvananthapuram

Our masters and PhD students are regularly funded through international travel grants by various national and international agencies to attend conferences, for collaborative project visits, etc. IISER Thiruvananthapuram also supports travel for one international visit by each PhD student.



ICREEE has excellent facilities for many kinds of ecological and evolutionary research projects. We currently operate out of a transit campus in Thiruvananthapuram, but have well-equipped labs and research infrastructure. We have several growth chambers for controlled-environment experiments, outdoor facilities for rearing insects, rooms for indoor experiments, molecular labs for genotyping work, a microscopy unit, high-speed videography equipment, etc. We will also shortly have a state-of-the-art greenhouse complex in our permanent campus. The permanent campus is located at Vithura, ca. 45 km from Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of the state of Kerala. This mountainous, rainforested region in the southern India is part of the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka biodiversity hotspot, and harbours a great degree of endemism. The campus of about 200 acres includes substantial streches of semi-evergreen, mixed-deciduous and riparian jungle. The reserved forest adjoining our campus is contiguous with one of the best tracts of primary rainforest in India – the Agasthyamala Biosphere Reserve, which includes the Peppara, Neyyara & Shendurney Wildlife Sanctuaries, as well as the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve. The campus therefore serves as a splendid laboratory for field-based experiments. Moreover, the rich biodiversity within and around the campus provides a great many model systems for experimental work.

In addition, we also maintain two field stations – Bhimashanker (adjoining Bhimshanker WLS) in Maharashtra and Kulathupuzha (adjoining Shendurney WLS) in Kerala.

Here are some images from the IISER Thiruvananthapuram campus

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We welcome inquiries from motivated students and postdocs interested in joining us. We are open to interns (IISER-TVM and external), PhD students and Postdoctoral Fellows. For more detailed information please refer to respective ‘Openings’ pages of BEE Lab and Vanasiri.

Current opening(s):

A postdoctal position is available under ICREEE (IISER-TVM Centre for Research and Education in Ecology and Evolution). ICREEE consists of the research groups of Ullasa Kodandaramaiah and Hema Somanathan. We invite applications for a postdoc with one of us preferably on one of the research themes mentioned below, but applicants are also free to propose projects in other research areas.

Ullasa Kodandaramaiah

  • Prey-predator interactions
  • Life-history trait evolution
  • Insect-plant coevolution

Hema Somanathan

  • Plant-pollinator interactions
  • Insect navigation
  • Dispersal ecology

The candidate will have the flexibility in designing projects in discussion with Hema or Ullasa, and can involve undergraduate students & interns. The IISER-TVM Vithura campus is an excellent place for many kinds of studies in ecology and evolution. If interested in the position, please get in touch with one of us (ullasa@iisertvm.ac.in, hsomanathan@iisertvm.ac.in) for discussions before sending in your formal application. There are of course several ongoing projects in both labs that a postdoc can be part of, but selection is based partly on the ability of the candidate to come up with good research questions.

DEADLINE: 15 March 2017

SALARY: Rs. 43,200 (Rs 36,000 + 20% Housing Rent Allowance)

DURATION: 1.5 years


SELECTION: The formal advertisement with details of how to apply are at http://iisertvm.ac.in/openings/read_opening/191.phpx

LIFE IN KERALA AND THIRUVANANTHAPURAM (TRIVANDRUM): The picturesque campus is in Vithura, which is 40 km from the coastal city of Thiruvananthapuram. Some people prefer to live near the campus, but many commute from the city. Thiruvananthapuram is the capital of Kerala, and has a rich cultural heritage. It is within a stone’s throw away from world-famous beaches such as Kovalam and Varkala, and lovely backwater tourism areas such as Poovar. Several hill stations (e.g Ponmudi) and wildlife sanctuaries are close by. Being a major medical tourism destination, the city has excellent medical care facilities. The quality of school education is good and the medium of instruction is English, which is widely spoken in the state.

It is a relatively small city, and the cost of living tends to be considerably lower than in bigger Indian cities. A 2-bedroom apartment can be rented for Rs 8,000 – 10,000 per month. There are plenty of options for dining out – a meal at a decent local restaurant can start from Rs 50, but a good meal with a drink even in a five-star hotel need not cost more than Rs 1000. Costs for groceries and other daily needs can be looked up here (www.kada.in). Taxis can be hired from Rs 10 per km (with a minimum fare of Rs 50).




We are a small group and welcome the opportunity to interact with other researchers in Ecology and Evolution. You can visit us, for instance, to…

  • Give a research seminar
  • Use our campus for part of your field or laboratory based research.
  • Collaborate with one of us

Depending on the nature of your visit/projects, we can help with accommodation.

If interested in visiting, write to either Hema or Ullasa.






Dani KGS & Kodandaramaiah U. 2017. Plant and animal reproductive strategies: Lessons from offspring size and number tradeoffs. Accepted. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution

Mayekar HV & Kodandaramaiah U. 2017. Pupal Colour Plasticity in a Tropical Butterfly, Mycalesis mineus (Nymphalidae: Satyrinae). PLoS ONE 12(2): e0171482. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0171482

Dani KGS, Silva AM, Michelozzi M, Peluso G, Torzillo G & Loreto F. 2017. Relationship between isoprene emission and photosynthesis in diatoms: Implications for global marine emission estimates. Marine Chemistry. 189: 17-24. DOI: 10.1016/j.marchem.2016.12.005

Dani KGS, Marino G, Taiti C, Mancuso S, Atwell BJ, Loreto F & Centritto M. 2017. De novo post-illumination monoterpene burst in Quercus ilex. Planta DOI: 10.1007/s00425-016-2636-x

Sahoo RK, Warren AD, Collins SC, Kodandaramaiah U. 2017. Hostplant change and paleoclimatic events explain diversification shifts in skipper butterflies (Family: Hesperiidae). BMC Evolutionary Biology 17:174. DOI: 10.1186/s12862-017-1016-x

Somanathan H, Borges RM, Warrant EJ, Kelber A. 2017. Visual Adaptations for Mate Detection in the Male Carpenter Bee Xylocopa tenuiscapa. PLoS One 12 (1), e0168452. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0168452

van Bergen E, Osbaldeston D, Kodandaramaiah U, Brattström O, Aduse-poku K, Brakefield PM. 2017. Conserved patterns of integrated developmental plasticity in a group of polyphenic tropical butterflies.  BMC Evolutionary Biology 17:59. DOI: 10.1186/s12862-017-0907-1


Arlet ME, Veromann LL, Mand R & Lemasson A. 2016. Call rates of mothers change with maternal experience and with infant characteristics in free-ranging gray-cheeked mangabeys. American Journal of Primatology. DOI: 10.1002/ajp.22568

Aduse-poku K, Lees DC, Brattström O, Kodandaramaiah U, Wahlberg N & Brakefield PM. 2016. Molecular phylogeny and generic-level taxonomy of the widespread palaeotropical ‘Heteropsis clade’ (Nymphalidae: Satyrinae: Mycalesina). Systematic Entomology. 41: 717–731. DOI: 10.1111/syen.12183

Bacquet PMB, de Jong MA ……… Molleman F, ……………..Nieberding. 2016. Differentiation in putative male sex pheromone components across and within populations of the African butterfly Bicyclus anynana as a potential driver of reproductive isolation. Ecology and Evolution. 6: 6064-6084. DOI: 10.1002/ece3.2298

Borges RM, Somanathan H, Kelber A. 2016. Patterns and Processes in Nocturnal and Crepuscular Pollination Services. Quarterly Review of Biology 91: 389-418, DOI: 10.1086/689481

Holm S, Davis RB, Javoiš J, Õunap E, Molleman F, Kaasik A. Tammaru T. 2016. A comparative perspective on longevity: the effect of body size dominates over ecology in moths. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 29: 2422-2435. DOI: 10.1111/jeb.12966

Krishna S & Somanathan H. 2016. Spatiotemporal strategies that facilitate recruitment in a habitat specialist tree species. AoB Plants. plw033.

Molleman F, Depoilly A, Vernon P, Muller J, Bailey R, Jarzabek-Muller A & Prinzing A. 2016. The island rule of body size demonstrated on individual hosts: phytophagous click-beetle species grow larger and predators smaller on phylogenetically isolated trees. Journal of Biogeography 43 (7): 1388–1399. DOI:10.1111/jbi.12725

Murali G & Kodandaramaiah U. 2016. Deceived by stripes: Conspicuous patterning on vital anterior body parts can redirect predatory strikes to expendable posterior organs. Royal Society Open Science. 3(6): 160057. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160057

Ramesh A, Vijayan S, Sreedharan S, Somanathan S & Uma D. Similar yet different: differential response of a praying mantis to ant-mimicking spiders. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 119: 158–165. DOI: 10.1111/bij.12793

Sahoo RK. 2016. Why antagonistic traits against Cytoplasmic Incompatibility are so elusive. Frontiers in Microbiology 7:392. DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00392

Sahoo RK, Warren AD, Wahlberg N, Brower AVZ, Lukhtanov VA, Kodandaramaiah U. 2016. Higher level relationships among skipper butterflies (Hesperiidae) resolved by ten genes. PeerJ 4:e2653. DOI: 10.7717/peerj.2653

Simões BF, Sampaio F, …………….. Kodandaramaiah U,…………. & Gower DJ. 2016. Visual pigments, ocular filters and the evolution of snake vision. Molecular Biology and Evolution. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msw148

van Bergen E, Barlow H, Brattström O, Griffiths H, Kodandaramaiah U, Osborne C & Brakefield PM. 2016. The stable isotope ecology of mycalesine butterflies: implications for plant-insect co-evolution. Functional Ecology 30: 1936-1946 DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12673

Zachariah A, Cyriac VP, Chandramohan B, Ansil BR, Mathew KM, Raju DV & Abraham RK. 2016. Two new species of Raorchestes (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from the Silent Valley National Park in the Nilgiri Hills of the Western Ghats, India. Salamandra. 52: 63-76. PDF


Abraham RK, Mathew JK, Cyriac VP, Zachariah A, Raju DV & Zachariah, A. 2015. A novel third species of the Western Ghats endemic genus Ghatixalus (Anura: Rhacophoridae), with description of its tadpole. Zootaxa 4048(1):101-113.

Abraham RK, Zachariah A & Cyriac VP. 2015. A reappraisal of the rhacophorid bush frog Raorchestes flaviventris (Boulenger, 1882), with an evaluation of the taxonomic status of R. emeraldi Vijayakumar, Dinesh, Prabhu and Shankar, 2014. Zootaxa 4048(1):90-1

Aduse-Poku K, Brattström O, Kodandaramaiah U, Lees DC, Brakefield PM & Wahlberg N. 2015. Systematics and historical biogeography of the Old World butterfly subtribe Mycalesina (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae). BMC Evolutionary Biology 15:167. DOI: 10.1186/s12862-015-0449-3

Balamurali GS, Somanathan H & de Ibarra NH. 2015. Motion cues improve the performance of harnessed bees in a colour learning task. Journal of Comparative Physiology A 201 (5): 505-511.

Balamurali GS, S Krishna & Somanathan H. Senses and signals: evolution of floral signals, pollinator sensory systems and the structure of plant–pollinator interactions. Current Science 108(10): 1852

Beleyur T, Bellur DU & Somanathan H. 2015. Long-term behavioural consistency in prey capture but not in web maintenance in a social spider. Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology 69(6):1019-1028.

Mukherjee R & Kodandaramaiah U. 2015. What makes eyespots intimidating – The importance of pairedness. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 15: 34. DOI: 10.1186/s12862-015-0307-3

Varma V, Ratnam J, Viswananthan V, Osuri AM, Biesmeijer JC, Madhusudhan MD, …………, Somanathan H, Srinivasan U, Sundaram B. 2015. Perceptions of priority issues in the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems in India. Biological Conservation 187: 201-211