Ratna Ghosal

Assistant Professor
PhD
Areas of interest
Ecology, Animal behavior, Conservation biology

Dr Ratna Ghosal joined the Biological and Life Sciences division of Ahmedabad University as an Assistant Professor in January 2018. She did her MSc in Zoology from Kolkata University and a PhD in Ecology from the Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. For her PhD, she studied the endocrine correlates of estrous behaviour in Asian elephants. She had developed a non-invasive technique based on faecal progesterone metabolite patterns to assess the estrous cycle of the female elephants. Following her PhD, Dr Ghosal received a grant from the Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation, London, UK to study the “musth” behaviour of the male Asian elephants (Ghosal et al. Plos one 2013).

In 2012, Dr Ghosal moved to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities to conduct research on the invasive fish in the North American ecosystem. She was also a member of the Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center, where she studied endocrine mechanisms of pheromone release and its olfactory recognition in invasive carps (Ghosal et al. Gen. Comp. Endo. 2016). She developed an integrated approach based on environmental DNA and sex pheromone measurements to detect invasive fish in open water systems (Ghosal et al. Ecol. Evol. 2018).

At Ahmedabad University, Dr Ghosal intends to study the proximate/physiological mechanisms of animal behaviour, and how such understanding can be implemented in the field of conservation biology. She plans to work on a range of model species including terrestrial and fresh water organisms in both laboratory and field conditions. Her laboratory uses a wide range of molecular, physiological, ecological and behavioural tools to address research questions.

 

Lab website: http://ratnaghosal.weebly.com

 

Research Interests:

I have worked on a wide range of vertebrates, including wild dogs, spotted deer, elephants, and the freshwater fishes. Over the years, I have worked on a few broad themes:

  • To understand the endocrine mechanisms or correlates of animal behaviour. In simple words, what kind of chemicals and chemical reactions inside a body lead towards a behavioural expression? So far, I have only looked at hormonal and pheromone mechanisms and release. I plan to expand my interests, and intend to look at the cellular or neuronal levels.
  • I have been broadly based in the field of conservation biology. India being a country rich in biodiversity, we need to make efforts to conserve the endangered species. However, we also need to save our environment from the negative impacts of the invasive or exotic species. Through my research, I try to develop an understanding of hormone-pheromone-behaviour interactions in a species, and how such understanding can be implemented to conserve a threatened species or to eradicate a nuisance one.

Ongoing research projects (Details of the projects are provided on my personal website):

  • Understanding reproductive behavior and pheromone-mediated communication in freshwater fishes native to the Indian subcontinent
  • Using molecular apporaches to detect the presence of exotic freshwater fishes in the Indian aqautic ecosystems
  • Assesing endorcirne physiology of terrestrial large mammals

Funding

Lab is generously funded by 

  • Ahmedabad University start up grant
  • Core Research grant, SERB-DST, Governement of India

Selected Publications:

Bajer PG, Ghosal R, Maselko M, Smanski MJ, Lechelt JD, Hansen G, Kornis MS (2019) Biological control of invasive fish and aquatic invertebrates: a brief review with case studies. Management of Biological Invasions, 10 (in press)

Ghosal, R, Eichmiller, JJ, Witthuhn, BA, Sorensen, PW (2018) Attracting Common Carp to a bait site with food reveals strong positive relationships between fish density, feeding activity, environmental DNA, and sex pheromone release that could be used in invasive fish management. Ecology and Evolution, 00, 1-14. 

Ghosal R, Sorensen PW (2016) Male typical courtship, spawning behavior and olfactory sensitivity are induced to different extents by androgens in the goldfish suggesting that they are controlled by different neuroendocrine mechanisms. General and Comparative Endocrinology, 232, 160-173.

Hansen A, Ghosal R,  Caprio JT, Claus A, and Sorensen PW (2014) Anatomical and physiological studies of bigheaded carps demonstrate that the epibranchial organ functions as a pharyngeal taste organ Journal of Experimental Biology 217, 3945-3954. 

Ghosal R, Seshagiri PB, Sukumar R, Ganswindt A (2013) Endocrine correlates of musth in free-ranging Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) determined by non-invasive faecal steroid hormone metabolite measurements. Plos One 8(12): e84787. 

 Ghosal R, Kalaivannan N, Sukumar R, Seshagiri PB. (2012) Assessment of estrus cyclicity in the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) by measurement of progesterone metabolite 5α-P-3OH, using a non-invasive assay. General and Comparative Endocrinology 175, 100-108. 

 

 

August-November 2018: Animal Behavior Course (CE303) offered to integrated Masters students

January-April 2019: Environmental Science Course offered to PhD and integrated Masters students

  • Member of Animal Behavior Society, USA
  • Member of International Society of Wildlife Endocrinology
  • Member of Ethological Society of India
  • Committee member of Gujarat Science Academy

Currently, I am accepting applications from potential PhD candidates. Please follow the Biological and Life Sciences website for PhD application procedures.  Preferably, an applicant should have some fellowship (CSIR/UGC/DBT/INSPIRE JRF or equivalent). Also, there are funding opportunities from my lab and in the university as well. A selected candidate may have opportunity to work in one of the following research areas:

Understanding behaviour and physiology of native freshwater fish species: 

In this project, we are exploring different behavioral patterns. for example, habitat choice, shoaling and reproductive behaviors, in a freshwater fish species, Etroplus maculatus (Orange Chromide) that is native to the Indian subcontinent. We are interested in exploring the role of visual (aggressive displays, pigmentation pattern) and chemical signals (hormones and pheromones) associated with different behaviors, and how specific are these signals when compared to a congeneric species, Etroplus suratensis (Green Chromide). Currently, most of the work for this project is being conducted under laboratory conditions.

Exotic Fish Biology:

The project aims to study the ecology of the exotic sailfin catfish and investigating their impact on the native freshwater fishes, for example, Catla, Rohu, Mrigal. Since the exotic sailfin catfish has become a menace in our country, we are also in the process of developing a DNA-based tool to non-invasively measure the presence of the catfish in the wild. This project involves an equal share of laboratory and field based work and is funded by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.

One JRF position is also available for the above project, please follow the link and apply under the Junior Research Fellow category

Conservation physiology of large vertebrates:

Physiology of species vary across different environmental and habitat conditions. We focus on understanding the stress and reproductive physiology of large vertebrates under different ecological conditions, for example, high versus low conflict zones and/or fragmented versus continuous habitat. My lab is equipped in assessing the hormonal physiology of wild vertebrates through non-invasive sampling. So far, I have worked on the stress and reproductive physiology of the Asian elephants. We are now extending this work to other terrestrial vertebrates. This project again involves an equal share of laboratory and field based work.


Contact

B34, GICT Building, Division of Biological & Life Sciences,
Ahmedabad University,
Central Campus,
Navrangpura, Ahmedabad,
Gujarat, India

+91-79-61911502
ratna.ghosal@ahduni.edu.in

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