Rakesh Kumar Muni
I am interested in urban biodiversity, behavioural ecology and bioacoustics. For my PhD, I am working on understanding the adaptations of palm squirrels in zones of overlaps. My work focuses on understanding ecological and reproductive character displacement where I look at habitat differences and variations in morphometric and acoustic traits across these zones. Another aspect of my study looks at interpreting the function of squirrel calls and variations in responses of individuals to calls. The primary idea is to understand macroevolutionary events happening on a contemporary scale, which will help interpret the dynamics of a species and multi-species interactions influenced by anthropogenic interferences and climate change.
My previous works have been associated with BNHS, where I worked on Grassland birds in Brahmaputra floodplains and waterbirds of Thane creek Flamingo sanctuary and surrounding seascape of Mumbai-Navi Mumbai. I have also worked with IISER Berhampur on the reproductive behaviour of fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster). I love teaching, and music is another language that I use to express myself. I listen to, play, and produce music, which is one reason I find bioacoustics so fascinating. And my current projects provide me with an opportunity to combine this fascination with my goal to understand the behaviour of organisms in and around human-associated habitats.
- Udayraj, S., D’Souza, S., Aravind, P. S., Muni, R. K., Nandini Rajamani. 2023. A comprehensive database of squirrel distribution and occurrence in South Asia. Biodiversity data journal:e109946. October 2023. https://doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.11.e109946.
- Verma, T., Mohapatra, A., Senapati, H. K., Muni, R. K., Dasgupta, P., Nandy, B. Evolution of reduced mate harming tendency of males in Drosophila melanogaster populations selected for faster life history. 2022. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 76 (6), 82. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00265...
Talks and Posters
Adhithi Balaji, Rakesh K Muni, Shivani Jadega & Nandini Rajamani. To eat or not to eat: How three-striped palm squirrels (Funambulus palmarum) respond to novel food setups and items across urban and rural areas. Poster at the 14ᵗʰ Students Conference for Conservation Science, Coimbatore, 09-12 October 2023.
Rakesh Kumar Muni, Swati Udayraj, Aravind P S, Senan D'Souza & Nandini Rajamani. Understanding niche use and character displacement in closely related palm squirrel species in allopatry and sympatry. Poster at the 59th Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Coimbatore, 02-06 July 2023.
Swati Udayraj, Aravind P S, Senan D’Souza, Rakesh K Muni, Anupama M, Rithika S, Debarpita Das, H S Sushma & Nandini Rajamani. Investigating the impacts of urbanisation on the three-striped palm squirrel across a forest-to-urban gradient. Talk at the 59ᵗʰ Annual Meeting of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Coimbatore, 02-06 July 2023.
Swati Udayraj, Aravind P S, Senan D’Souza, Rakesh K Muni, Anupama M, Rithika S, Debarpita Das, H S Sushma & Nandini Rajamani. Occupancy and abundance of the three-striped palm squirrel across an urbanisation gradient in a rapidly developing city in southern India. Poster at the 4th Annual Conference of Indian Society of Evolutionary Biology, Ahmedabad University, 9-11 February 2023.
Rakesh Kumar Muni, Pratyush P Mohapatra, Ashish Kumar, Asish Das. 2016. Documentation and Conservation of waterfowls in Berhampur Forest Division. Talk at ‘National Seminar on Biodiversity Assessment and Wildlife Management 2016’ conference, North Orissa University, Baripada, Odisha. March 2016.
Grants and Fellowships
CSIR-UGC NET Fellowship (From January 2020)
IMA PG Student Scholarship (July 2016-18)
Indian Academy of Sciences, Summer Research Fellowship (July-August 2016)