Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Snake Study Reveals New Species, Rich Biodiversity in Island

Sri Lankan Snake Study Reveals New Species, Rich Biodiversity in Island Country 
Check out the links for Dushantha Kandambi and Ruchira Somaweera.  They are doing some really cool stuff. 
Dushantha Kandambi
In 2011, Alex Pyron's fieldwork in Sri Lanka studying snake diversity on the island led him to confirm the identity of 60 known species of snakes. With Sri Lankan collaborators, Ruchira Somaweera, an author on snakes and expert on amphibians and reptiles, and Dushantha Kandambi, a local naturalist and snake expert, the team collected the snakes and of those, Dr. Pyron used DNA sequencing technology on 40 of them. The study led to a greater understanding of how all the snakes are related to each other and their evolutionary relationship other species globally.
Ruchira Somaweera
"We found that Sri Lanka has been colonized by snakes at least five times by totally different snake groups, which have each diversified heavily within the island," said Dr. Pyron,

"Sri Lanka has one of the oldest recorded civilizations on the planet, and the blindsnake was discovered in the yard of an environmental agency office. Species are still being discovered there, and even the ones that were known were not really 'known,' as the DNA data are telling us new stories about how they are related, completely contradicting what we thought we knew. It tells us that Sri Lanka is a much bigger hotspot for biodiversity than previously known, and harbors massive richness."
From Science Daily
Journal Reference:
  1. R. Alexander Pyron, H.K. Dushantha Kandambi, Catriona R. Hendry, Vishan Pushpamal, Frank T. Burbrink, Ruchira Somaweera. Genus-level phylogeny of snakes reveals the origins of species richness in Sri Lanka. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 2013; 66 (3): 969 DOI: 10.1016/j.ympev.2012.12.004


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