Ashwini V Mohan currently is a PhD student at the Technical University of Braunschweig. Ashwini does research in Evolutionary Biology, Systematics (Taxonomy) and Ecology. Their most recent publication is 'The lanternflies from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands_full paper.'
Skills and Expertise
Ecology and EvolutionSpecies DiversityTaxonomyPhylogenetic AnalysisPopulation GeneticsGenetic DiversityPhylogeneticsMolecular PhylogeneticsPhylogeography and Phylogenetic BiogeographyPhylogeographyEvolutionary GeneticsMorphometricsMolecular Population GeneticsMolecular SystematicsBiological EvolutionMorphological AnalysisMolecular TaxonomyScientific IllustrationLandscape Genetics
Through this project, we aim to recognize diversity of gecko species (different species and within species diversity between islands) found across the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. We will utilize molecular phylogenetic and phylogeography tools to recognize genetic diversity among species and populations of geckos and prioritize diversity rich islands for conservation.
Research Item (5)
We describe a new species of rock-dwelling gecko, Hemidactylus paaragowlipaaragowli sp. nov., from the Agastyamalai Hill Range, in the southern Western Ghats. Morphological and molecular data support the distinctiveness of the species and its close relationship to other large-bodied, tuberculate Hemidactylus spp. from the H. prashadi group from India and Sri Lanka. This species belongs to a rupicolous complex and can be distinguished from other members of the group based on the following characters: 22–24 longitudinal rows of fairly regularly arranged, subtrihedral, weakly keeled, striated tubercles at midbody; 9–11 and 10–12 subdigital lamellae on the first and fourth digits, respectively, of both manus and pes; tail with transverse series of four enlarged tubercles on each tail segment; 10–12 femoral pores on each side separated by 16–18 scales without pores; 11–13 supralabials and 9–10 infralabials.
The Indian egg-eater (Elachistodon westermanni) is a monotypic species of the Genus Elachistodon distributed across the Indian sub-continent. In Africa, there are 13 species of egg-eating snakes of the Genus Dasypeltis. These two genera, Elachistodon and Dasypeltis were thought to be closely related due to similar diet specialization, and shared biogeographic history between the Indian sub-continent and the continent of Africa. In our study, we amplified three mitochondrial genes and one nuclear gene from E. westermanni and reconstructed molecular phylogeny utilizing published sequences to understand the evolutionary relationships between the African, and the Indian egg-eating snakes. We used morphological characters to reinforce our inferences on phylogenetic relationships.We show that the Indian egg-eater is sister to cat snakes of the Genus Boiga, and it does not share recent ancestry with the African egg-eating snakes. Morphological character states point at similarities between Elachistodon and Dasypeltis only in characters associated with their feeding behaviour. Elachistodon westermanni was similar to the Boiga spp. in several other morphological characters, and we provisionally assign E. westermanni under the genus Boiga. Compilation of records of E. westermanni across the Indian subcontinent over the years revealed a positive “Lazarus” effect. We conclude that, the egg-eating behaviour and the associated morphological characters in the snake genera Dasypeltis and Elachistodon are a result of convergent evolution. Based on the conservation status of E. westermanni, it could serve as a flagship species to conserve important wildlife habitats that are being lost rapidly in India.
The species of Pyrops Spinola, 1839 recorded from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are reviewed with a new species, P. azureus sp. nov. is described from North Andaman and recorded from South Andaman and Long Island based on photographs in nature. A distribution map of the species is given. The three Pyrops species currently known in the Archipelago, P. andamanensis (Distant, 1880), P. rogersi (Distant, 1906) and P. azureus sp. nov. are comprehensively illustrated, including the male genitalia. Pyrops rogersi is transferred from the P. pyrorhynchus group to the P. candelaria group. Penthicodes (Ereosoma) atomaria (Weber, 1801) is recorded from Andamans for the first time. New records based on photographs are given as well as an illustrated identification key to all Fulgoridae from the Andaman and Nicobar Archipelago. Together with Penthicodes (Penthicodes) nicobarica (Stål, 1869), Penthicodes (Ereosoma) pulchella (Guérin-Méneville, 1838) and Polydictya negrito Distant, 1906, seven species of Fulgoridae are currently recorded from the treated area.