On 30th June 2021, two of our very first M.Sc. project students, Himesh and Shagun, gave their final M.Sc. thesis presentations. It was a wonderful journey alongside them in the lab, teaching and learning at both ends.
Himesh’s work on the evolution of host-parasite relationships between geckos and mites resulted in very interesting finds. A molecular approach to identify various co-evolutionary interactions between
reptiles and scale mites showed co-speciation, host switch, and duplication. His study also revealed the niche specificity of the scale mites, where there was stark difference in the parasites on the dorsal and ventral sides of the geckos.
Shagun’s study on the disjunct distribution of the skink genus Sphenomorphus revealed the underlying factors that have contributed to their curious contemporary distribution. The results showed that the South Indian lineage surprisingly originated in Sundaland, and their present distribution in India may have been a result of transoceanic dispersal.
Although both of them will be soon graduating, they will always be a part of the BioGeoSys lab, here at NISER. We wish them luck for their futures and their forthcoming journeys into the wild, exploring the unexplored!