Ratna Ghosal

Assistant Professor
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

Selected Publications:

Ghosal R, Eichmiller JJ, Witthuhn BA, Sorensen PW (2018) Measuring sex pheromone and environmental DNA in an aggregation of common carp: a new way to locate invasive fish. Ecology and Evolution (In press). 

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

  • 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

I am in the process of setting up my lab at the Ahmedabad University.  If your research interests broadly matches with mine, please write to me. Currently, I am accepting applications from

PhD candidates: Do you like watching animals? Are you curious about your natural surroundings? If you are, and if you are motivated to do a PhD, do write to me. Please consult DBLS website for PhD application procedures. 

Postdoctoral Fellows: If you are interested in the projects in the lab or would like to collaborate on a project, do write to me. I can help in finding an extramural funding (national/international) to support your proposal.


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



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