Fellows

Madhava Meegaskumbura

Current Position: 

Professor, Evolution, Ecology and Systematics Lab, Department of Molecular Biology & Biotechnology, University of Peradeniya (Sri Lanka)
Ziff Environmental Fellow: 2007-2009

Faculty Host: 

Madhava Meegaskumbura is an evolutionary biologist focusing on understanding species extinction and how best to construct conservation strategies for endangered species in biodiversity hotspots.

Originally from Sri Lanka, Madhava worked for several years with the Wildlife Heritage Trust organization in that country before entering graduate school at Boston University. He earned a Ph.D. in biology in May 2007. At the center of Madhava’s doctoral field research was his astonishing discovery of nearly 100 previously undescribed species of tree frogs – about 2% of the global total of frog species. While this discovery underlines Sri Lanka’s status as a global biodiversity hotspot, his research also showed that 19 species of Sri Lankan tree frogs have become extinct since 1850, representing an extraordinary 60% of the 32 global amphibian extinctions confirmed by the IUCN’s Red List. These developments in Sri Lanka are especially pertinent given that they come at a time when amphibian populations worldwide are declining, in many cases inexplicably.

As an Environmental Fellow, Madhava will continue his research on tree frogs in an effort to identify correlates of threat and extinction and to develop strategies to be used to predict and prevent future species extinctions. He will work with James Hanken, Professor of Biology and Director of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, to study the underlying patterns and processes that generate and maintain biodiversity in a global biodiversity hotspot and to construct conservation strategies that are broadly applicable to many other organisms.

Read Dr. Meegaskumbura's work on the recent discovery of a tiny lost shrub frog species.

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