Sampath S. Seneviratne

Sampath S. Seneviratne
University of Colombo · Department of Zoology and Environment Sciences

Ph. D. in Evolutionary Ecology

About

117
Publications
20,337
Reads
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308
Citations
Introduction
My research interests are rooted in the studies of island biogeography, causes of endemicity, migration ecology and the evolution of novel traits. My approach uses both field- and laboratory-based research grounded in a strong conceptual framework. Sri Lanka in particular offers a great assortment of species assemblages to study critical questions related to speciation in island biogeographic framework. Website | Avian Evolution Node | http://evolution.cmb.ac.lk/
Additional affiliations
January 2013 - present
University of Colombo
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
January 2009 - August 2012
University of British Columbia - Vancouver
Position
  • PostDoc Position
May 2004 - August 2008
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Position
  • PhD Student

Publications

Publications (117)
Article
Full-text available
Mechanosensory use is a seldom-mentioned function for feather ornaments, yet recent experimental evidence showed that the elaborate facial plumes of crevice-dwelling whiskered auklets, Aethia pygmaea, have just such a sensory role. Here we explored the evolutionary patterns of mechanosensory function of similar facial feather ornaments in related s...
Article
Full-text available
Hybridization has challenged taxonomy, since hybridizing forms could be stable evolutionary entities or ephemeral forms that are blending together. The island of Sri Lanka has 2 subspecies of the flameback woodpecker D. benghalense: D. b. jaffnense in the north and D. b. psarodes in the south. Red plumage separates the endemic phenotype D. b. psaro...
Article
Full-text available
Question: Are phylogenetic relationships the major determinant of vocal relationships in non-oscine birds (birds that do not have a learning component in the vocalization)? Background: Both environmental variables and phylogenetic affinities can affect vocalizations. Unlearned vocalizations are characteristics of most non-oscine bird families, whic...
Article
Full-text available
The evolutionary history of a phylogenetically distinct group of organisms (a clade) can be traced by using a phylogenetic tree. Such phylogenetic trees can also be used to measure the amount of evolutionary history captured by each member species (node) in the tree. Evolutionary Distinctness (ED) and Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered S...
Article
Full-text available
Co-occurrence of closely related taxa on islands could be attributed to sympatric speciation or multiple colonization. Sympatric speciation is considered to be rare in small islands, however multiple colonizations are known to be common in both oceanic and continental islands. In this study we investigated the phylogenetic relatedness and means of...
Article
Full-text available
Isolating barriers that drive speciation are commonly studied in the context of two‐species hybrid zones. There is however evidence that more complex introgressive relationships are common in nature. Here, we use field observations and genomic analysis, including the sequencing and assembly of a novel reference genome, to study an emergent hybrid z...
Preprint
Full-text available
Hybrid zones reveal the strength of reproductive isolation between populations undergoing speciation and are thus a key tool used in evolutionary biology research. Multiple replicate transects across the same hybrid zone offer further insight into the dynamics of hybridization in different environments, clarifying the role of extrinsic forces on th...
Preprint
Isolating barriers that drive speciation are commonly studied in the context of two-species hybrid zones. There is however evidence that more complex introgressive relationships are common in nature. Here, we use field observations and genomic analysis, including the sequencing and assembly of a novel reference genome, to study an emergent hybrid z...
Data
Zoogeographical affinities of the Sri Lankan avifauna: a preliminary chorological analysis on the on the distribution of the ecologically, geographically and taxonomically closest (or presumed to be closest, when phylogenies are not available) relative in each lineage of all 34 Sri Lankan endemic bird species, based on the Phylogenetic Super Tree o...
Article
Full-text available
Sexual dimorphism may appear in various forms such as anatomical, plumage, or vocal features. Production of such variation can be costly. However, sexual dimorphism may provide long-term fitness benefits. The Sri Lanka Bush Warbler (Elaphrornis palliseri) is a sexually monomorphic and monotypic passerine endemic to the montane cloud forests of the...
Article
Both sexes of Whiskered Auklets (Aethia pygmaea) display the most elaborate feather ornaments of any seabird: a slender black forehead crest, and 3 bilaterally symmetrical pairs of white facial plumes (superorbital, suborbital, and auricular). We studied patterns of ornament variation in 796 banded individuals (147 of known sex, 254 of known age fr...
Article
Full-text available
Summary.—Yellow wagtails Motacilla sp. observed in Sri Lanka in November 2019 had the ‘rasping’ voice characteristic of Eastern Yellow Wagtail M. tschutschensis. DNA confirmed two individuals as M. t. tschutschensis / plexa, whilst plumage characters suggested one was M. t. plexa and the other M. t. tschutschensis, the first records of the species...
Article
Full-text available
We examined the phylogenetic relationships of South Asian bulbuls with focus on endemic species to understand the historical biogeography of the region. Molecular phylogenetic analysis, divergence date estimation and ancestral area reconstruction were performed to understand the role of paleoclimate on extant bulbul diversity and their distribution...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Vocal divergence can be driven by genetic relatedness, environment or both. Vocalization plays a key role in evolution of birds, therefore the evolutionary significance of vocalization can be understood by studying how vocal traits drive phenotypic and genotypic divergence in them. Sri Lanka has seven species of babblers (members of the families Ti...
Article
Full-text available
The Issengard Biosphere Reserve is located at Imbulpe, Belihuloya, in Ratnapura District of the Sabaragamuwa Province of Sri Lanka. It is a privately owned conservation forest, located at the catchment of Samanalawewa Reservoir. This 16-acre forest is a disturbed, sub-montane forest. This article covers the study carried out to determine the Tempor...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Being endemic to Southernmost India and Sri Lanka, the Grizzled Giant Squirrel (Ratufa macroura) is the most range-restricted species of all giant squirrels. The melanic form of Sri Lankan Grizzled Giant squirrel (R. m. melanochora) is phenotypically unique and lives in the wettest regions of the island. Here we tried to clarify the evolutionary af...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The species; Ratufa macroura exists in three different coat colorations. R.m.melanochora in Sri Lankan wet forests has morphologically diverged from the R.m.macroura in the intermediate zone and R.m.dandolena shared between Sri Lankan Dry zone and Mainland India. This study investigated 1) the correlation of geo-climatic parameters with the morphom...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Many passerines possess extravagant vocalizations which often provide evolutionary advantages. Birds have evolved many variations in vocalization in order to withstand the associated costs. The current study focused on investigating intraspecific vocal variations in Sri Lanka Bush Warbler (Elaphrornis palliseri) which is a range restricted montane...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Hill swallows (Hirundo domicola) are aerial insectivores that reside in both undisturbed natural environments and in human residential areas. Adapting to human altered landscapes are challenging as resource distribution is altered; natural nesting sites may be removed and novel disturbances are introduced. In order to survive anthropogenic change b...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Personality can be partly determined by genes hence variation in personality associated with genes give rise to variation in personality among individuals within a population. DRD4 gene has been associated with a number of personality traits, such as, novelty seeking, early exploratory behaviour, boldness and weariness. Having these traits may be n...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Sexual dimorphism driven by exaggerated phenotypes is widespread among birds. Besides their evolutionary function, there are many associating costs. Hence some species of birds have evolved optimized signaling mechanisms enabling them to overcome the cost of conspicuousness. Iris dichromatism plays a key role in making one sex is distinguishable fr...
Conference Paper
An endemic species is one that restricted to a defined geographical location. Islands provide a strong degree of geographical isolation to form new species and thus lead to endemism. This study is focused on resolving evolutionary history of Hill Swallows among closely related taxa in the Pacific Hirundines (Swallows of the genus Hirundo). There ar...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Ratufa is giant arboreal squirrels restricted into South and South East Asia. They are diverged into four phenotypically different taxa; Ratufa macroura, R.indica, R.bicolor and R.affinis. Sri Lanka’s Grizzled Giant squirrel; R.macroura is the most range-restricted species of the genus being endemic to Southernmost India and Sri Lanka. The phylogen...
Article
Full-text available
Examination of the Dendrelaphis bifrenalis populations on Sri Lanka showed that there are two populations that are morphologically different from each other. One population is distributed only in the wet zone forests (hereafter treated as wet zone population), while the other population occurs widely in the dry zone and intermediate zones (hereafte...
Book
Full-text available
Sri Lanka’s location, historic and geologic isolation from the continental landmass, topography and climate act to shape its biogeography and biodiversity, including conferring a remarkably high level of endemism, given its close proximity to the mainland. The island hosts several ‘point endemic1 species and even monotypic endemic genera. However t...
Article
Although the avian family Anhingidae is unequivocally monophyletic, the number and relationships of the component species within the single genus (Anhinga) have long remained unclear. Here, we use extensive mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequence data (8,878 bp) to show that four species should be recognized. Our fully resolved and well‐supported tr...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Forces of selection and drift are intense when birds spread across continents and nearby islands, which lead to divergence and eventual reproductive isolation. Here we studied the patterns of divergence in multiple levels in a group of woodpeckers found across tropical Asia known as Dinopium flamebacks in the light of how isolation, mate choice and...
Article
Full-text available
Sri Lanka's geological history, varied cllmate and topography have shaped its rich speciesdiversity (Abeyrama &Seneviratne, 2017: Weerakoon et al., 2012). lts climate is driven mainly by the monsoonal rains and topography; where there is a south-central mountainous region, which rises to an elevation of 2, 500 m, surrounded by broad lowland plains...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Key components of biodiversity cannot be treated equally due to the limitations of resources available for conservation. Therefore biodiversity should be prioritized in effective conservation and site based conservation is one such model to achieve that. However parameters related to ecology, sociology and economics (aka. tourism) are primarily use...
Article
The Indian Cormorant (Phalacrocorax fuscicollis) is a common avian piscivore that occurs throughout the Indian subcontinent and east to southern Vietnam. Its evolutionary relationships, however, have remained obscure, largely because of a lack of material available for either osteological or genetic analysis. Here we show using DNA-sequence data fr...
Article
Full-text available
Shorebirds in the Order Charadriiformes are primarily ground nesters and most of them do not make an insulated nest. As a result each shorebird family utilizes a unique breeding habitat in the wetland ecosystem. Pratincoles (Family Glariolidae) are a group of desert-adapted shorebirds that breed in arid landscapes. The Oriental Pratincole (Glareola...
Article
Full-text available
Different components of biodiversity cannot be treated equally due to the limitations of knowledge and resources, and the heterogeneity in the distribution of biodiversity in the landscape. Therefore, biodiversity should be prioritized in effective site-based conservation. Parameters related to ecology, sociology and economics are primarily used fo...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Co-occurrence of closely related taxa on islands could be attributed to sympatric speciation or multiple colonization. Sympatric speciation is considered to be rare in small islands however multiple colonizations could be common in both oceanic and continental islands. Sri Lanka is a continental island in the Indian continental shelf of the Norther...
Presentation
Phenotypic and genetic affinities of a sessile South Asian endemic bird: Dark Fronted Babbler.
Data
Morphometric measurements used for the morphometric analysis. 1. weight 2. head length 3. head width 4. Total culmen 5. Exposed culmen 6. bill height 7. bill width 8. thickness of the eye-ring; eye ring (a) 9. opening of the ring; eye ring (b) 10. diameter of the eye-ring; eye ring (c) 11. eye ring width 12. flattened wing length 13. tarsus (right)...
Data
Sample ID or band number, tissue source and collection locality for each species used in the phylogenetic study with GenBank accession numbers for each gene sequence. Footnote. FMNH, The Field Museum of Natural History; KUNHM, University of Kansas Natural History Museum; LSUMNS, Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science; USNM, National M...
Data
Eigen values for each variable in each principal component (PC) resulted from the principal component analysis. (DOCX)
Data
Scree plot. This plots the eigen values associated with each PC. At PC4 the slope of the curve levels off, hence only PC1, PC2 and PC3 were used for the analysis. (TIF)
Article
Full-text available
Background: Indigenous medicinal practice in Sri Lanka talks about powerful compounds extracted from native plants for treating venomous snake bites which are hardly documented in literature but are used by the indigenous doctors for thousand years. Objective: We screened the neutralizing ability of a herbal preparation practiced in indigenous medi...
Presentation
Full-text available
Conservation Asia 2016 was themed ”Sustainable Landscapes for People, , Business and Biodiversity and was held from 29th June-02nd July 2016. Over 600 participants from over 35 countries were present for this chapter meeting. This was the first time for the Association of Tropical Biology and Society for Conservation Biology to organize the Asia-Pa...
Article
Full-text available
The common house crow (Corvus splendens) is one of the best known and most wide spread species of the family Corvidae. It is a successful invasive species able to exploit urban environments, well removed from its natural distribution. It is considered a pest as it attains high population densities, can cause serious economic losses and has many adv...
Article
Full-text available
Hybrid zones allow the measurement of gene flow across the genome, producing insight into the genomic architecture of speciation. Such analysis is particularly powerful when applied to multiple pairs of hybridizing species, as patterns of genomic differentiation can then be related to age of the hybridizing species, providing a view into the buildu...
Article
Full-text available
Three species of closely related woodpeckers (sapsuckers; Sphyrapicus) hybridize where they come into contact, presenting a rare 'λ-shape' meeting of hybrid zones. Two of the three arms of this hybrid zone are located on either side of the Interior Plateau of British Columbia, Canada bordering the foothills of the Coast Mountains and the Rocky Moun...
Article
Full-text available
The complete mitochondrial genomes of two jungle crows (Corvus macrorhynchos) were sequenced. DNA was extracted from tissue samples obtained from shed feathers collected in the field in Sri Lanka and sequenced using the Illumina MiSeq Personal Sequencer. Jungle crow mitogenomes have a structural organization typical of the genus Corvus and are 16,9...
Article
Full-text available
The three Anous noddy species are pelagic, rather enigmatic seabirds with a pan-tropical distribution. Brown Noddy A. stolidus and Lesser Noddy A. tenuirostris are breeding residents in the Indian Ocean (Gochfeld & Burger 1996, Rasmussen & Anderton 2012). The Brown Noddy is a mediumsized, chocolate brown tern with a distinctive grey-white crown, bl...
Article
Full-text available
Dinopium benghalense is one of the five species currently recognized in the old-world woodpecker genus Dinopium, which includes six subspecies or races. Sri Lanka had two subspecies of D. benghalense; D. b. jaffnense (Golden-back woodpecker) and D. b. psarodes (Red-backed Woodpecker). D. b. jaffenese is distributed in northern parts while the latte...