Piyal Karunarathne

image-title-here I am an evolutionary ecologist, broadly interested in trait variation and adaptation of organisms, especially in response to environmental and climate changes. I am interested in how plant communities change over time in relation to the biotic and abiotic stress they are subject to. Particularly, in my research, I study the turnover of species assemblages in a spatiotemporal framework to determine the main drivers of biodiversity patterns. With the use of novel modeling platforms and state-of-the-art approaches, I strongly believe we can develop an accurate system to decipher and predict the fate of biodiversity in a rapidly changing world and thereby implement effective measures to maintain healthy ecosystems and an efficient biosphere. I recognize myself as an experimental field biologist, not to mention my fondness for statistical modeling and that I thoroughly enjoy developing new statistical scripts for biodiversity analyses.

Currently, my work in the Daru Lab focuses on developing a modeling framework to determine the evolutionary origin of plant assemblages (biomes) in a global scale. I use occurrence data of vascular plants from a wide range of data sources (e.g. gbif, herbaria logs, personal data, other open-source databases, etc.) in combination with a calibrated phylogenetic tree of Tracheophytes to recognize “phyloregions” of the world and thereby to assess their evolutionary origin and sequential formation.

Selected Publications

2- Daru, B.H., Karunarathne, P. & Schliep, K. (2020) phyloregion: R package for biogeographic regionalization and macroecology. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 11: 1483-1491.
DOI PDF file

1- Karunarathne, P., Schedler, M., Martínez, E.J., Honfi, A.I., Novichkova, A. & Hojsgaard, D. (2018) Intraspecific ecological niche divergence and reproductive shifts foster cytotype displacement and provide ecological opportunity to polyploids. Annals of Botany 121: 1183–1196.