Hi, my name is Dinesh Rao, and I’m a researcher at the INBIOTECA (Instituto Biotecnologia y Ecologia Aplicada) at the Universidad Veracruzana in Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico.
My Publications list at Google Scholar.
I currently have two main lines of research:
a. Using Jumping spiders and Tephritid fruit flies as my model system, I am investigating pursuit deterrence signals. Pursuit deterrence signals are those that are sent by the prey to the predator to warn the predator that it has been seen or to advertise that the prey would be difficult to catch. Both prey and predators benefit through these signals, the prey because it is more likely to escape attack, and predators because they are less likely to expend energy in a potentially wasteful attack.
Masters student (co-direction): Samuel Aguilar-Argüello
b. Orb web spiders are excellent models for studying behaviour, especially since the webs are a physical manifestation of behavioural choices. Currently I am working on the neo-tropical orb web spider, Verrucosa arenata, which is one of the 3 known species that rest with their head facing upwards. To this end, I am researching positional orientation in V. arenata, in conjunction with questions such as foraging efficiency, body coloration and web asymmetry.
Licenciatura Students (past): Oscar Cebollas, Ernesto Barabosa
c.Though the majority of spiders are territorial and solitary, some spiders are known to live in groups. These spiders are classified in a continuum ranging from aggregations, to colonial spiders to social spiders. Recently we are starting work on a subsocial spider Anelosimus baeza, with questions such as foraging behaviour and dispersal.
Licenciatura Students (completed): Alfonso Aceves
Masters student (co-direction): Alfonso Aceves
Masters student (co-direction): Luis Ferreira-Ojeda
d. Bright body coloration in spiders
Colour polymorphism in Verrucosa arenata
Effect of colour polymorphism on thermoregulation
Quantification of colour polymorphism
Postdoc: Helena Ajuria Ibarra
2. Conservation Biology
a. Cloud forests all over the world are rapidly disappearing due to anthropogenic causes such as urbanization and farming. A characteristic feature of cloud forests is the presence of epiphytes: vascular plants that live their entire life cycle on other plants. Epiphytes are a vital microhabitat to canopy dwelling arthropods such as spiders. Epiphytes are also known to occur in shade coffee plantations that are located in the same areas as cloud forests, and thus represent islands of biodiversity within a transformed habitat. In this project, we propose to conduct a biodiversity assay of spiders living in epiphytes in cloud forests and shade coffee plantations. We propose to test the hypothesis that epiphytes in shade coffee plantations can function as refugia for spiders.
PhD Student: Francisco Mendez Castro
For my PhD at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, I focussed on insect response to web decorations in Argiope keyserlingi. Many spiders affix their webs with highly visible extra silk structures. These decorations have been subject to sustained investigation for over a hundred years, but their functional significance is still debated. By using a series of experiments using free flying bees, I tested the response of insects to decorations.
I have previously worked on colonial spiders in Israel, looking at the factors favouring group living in an extreme desert ecosystem.