Dr Ru Somaweera

Research Scientist

Contact details:


Ruchira is a herpetologist with research interests broadly centered around behavioural and evolutionary ecology of reptiles. His current research underpins the common theme of the adaptive significance of reptiles to the changes in their environment. He run projects across a range or ecosystems, with a particular focus on the tropical ecosystems of northern Australia and SE Asia, and complements this field-based research with controlled-condition laboratory experiments and mechanistic modelling.

Research interests: conservation biology & biodiversity, plant-animal interactions, invasion science, photography, scuba diving


For a full list of Ruchira's publications, including links to PDF copies, please see his profiles at My Publications, ResearchGate, and Google Scholar

Selected publications

Somaweera, R., Platt, S., Brien, M., Manolis, C. and Webber, B. 2018. Direct and indirect interactions with vegetation shape crocodylian life history traits at multiple scales. Freshwater Biology DOI: 10.1111/fwb.13 Get PDF.

Udyawer, V. and 27 authors including Somaweera, R. 2018. Future directions in marine snake research and management. Frontiers in Marine Science DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00399 Get PDF.

Gabadage, D., Surasinghe, T., De Silva, A., Somaweera, R., Madawala, M. and Karunarathna, S. 2018. Zoological and ecological study of the Sri Lankan Keelback (Balanophis ceylonensis): with implications for conservation of a poorly known, endemic snake from Sri Lanka. Vertebrate Zoology 68(3):225-236 Get PDF.

Somaweera, R. 2017. A Naturalist's Guide to the Reptiles & Amphibians of Bali. John Beaufoy Publishing, UK: 176 pp.

Morgan, D.L., Somaweera, R., Gleiss, A.C., Beatty, S.J. and Whitty, J.M. 2017. An upstream migration fought with danger: freshwater sawfish fending off sharks and crocodiles. Ecology DOI: 10.1002/ecy.1737 Get PDF.

Pyron, R. A., Ganesh, S., Sayyed, A., Sharma, V., Wallach, V. and Somaweera, R. 2016. A catalogue and systematic overview of the shield-tailed snakes (Serpentes: Uropeltidae). Zoosystema 38(4):453-506 Get PDF.

Auliya, M. and 36 co-authors including Somaweera, R. 2016. Trade in live reptiles and its impact on reptile diversity: the European pet market as a case study. Biological Conservation. 204:103-119 Get PDF

Whiting, M.J., Noble, D.W.A. and Somaweera, R. 2015. Sexual dimorphism in conspicuousness and ornamentation in enigmatic leaf-nosed lizard Ceratophora tennentii from Sri Lanka. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 116(3):614-625 Get PDF

Somaweera, R., Meegaskumbura, M., Bowatte, G. and Wijayathilaka, N. 2015. Conservation in a changing landscape: habitat occupancy of the Critically Endangered Tennent's Leaf-nosed Lizard (Ceratophora tennentii) in Sri Lanka. Journal of Natural History 49(31-32):1961-1985 Get PDF

Somaweera, R., Shine, R., Webb, J., Dempster, T. and Letnic, M. 2013. Why does vulnerability to toxic invasive cane toads vary among populations of Australian freshwater crocodiles? Animal Conservation 16:86-96 Get PDF

Academic Qualifications

BSc (Hons I), Department of Zoology, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. 2006
PhD, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia. 2012

Science and Professional Areas

Ongoing since 2016 : Adjunct Research Fellow, University of Western Australia, Australia
Ongoing since 2014 : Adjunct Lecturer, Murdoch University, Australia
2012 – 2016 : Regional Vice Chairman, IUCN/SSC Crocodile Specialists’ Group
2012 – 2013 : Fellow of the Linnean Society of London
2007 – 2008 : Lecturer, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Student Supervision

Ongoing since 2018 : Damian Lettoof, PhD, Curtin University
Ongoing since 2018 : Tom Parkin, MSc, Curtin University
Ongoing since 2017 : James Barr, PhD, Curtin University
2016 – 2017 : Tess McLaren, MSc, The University of Melbourne
2016 – 2017 : James Barr, BSc (Hons), Murdoch University
2011 – 2012 : Francine James, MSc, The University of Sydney

Editorial Positions

Ongoing since 2018 : Section editor Herpetological Review
Ongoing since 2015 : Section editor Hamadryad

Community and Corporate Citizenship

Ongoing since 2017 : Scientists in Schools, Sutherland Dianella Primary School, Perth.
Ongoing since 2012 : Resource Person, West Kimberley freshwater crocodile conservation and management program, Dept. of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions.

Achievements and Awards

2011 : Finalist at 2011 Postgraduate Excellence Award, The University of Sydney
2010 : Best oral presentation, Student Conference in Conservation Sciences
2008 : Top-Up Award, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney
2007 : Endeavour International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (EIPRS), Dept. of Education, Science and Training, Australia.
2007 : International Postgraduate Award (IPA), University of Sydney
2007 : Australian Development Award, Australian Government
2007 : Endeavour Postgraduate Award, Dept. of Education, Science & Training, Australia
2007 : Miriam Rothschild Bursary for an internship at the Natural History Museum in London
2007 : Professor Felix Prashantha Amerasinghe Memorial Gold Medal for Excellence in Zoology, University of Peradeniya.
2007 : University Award for Academic Excellence, University of Peradeniya.