Phylogeography Team

Group leader Phylogeography

Team Phylogeography
Prof. Dr.  Uwe Fritz
Stellvertretender Direktor SNSD, Fachgebietsleiter Phylogeographie Abteilungsleiter Museum für Tierkunde


Team Phylogeography Melita_Vamberger_Feldarbeit_res
Dr.  Melita Vamberger
10_Jürgen SchulzMolgen Team
Dr.  Christian Kehlmaier
Manager Ancient-DNA-Labor

Key expertise Taxonomy, systematics, phylogeny, laboratory techniques (Sanger, NGS),
ancient DNA, Diptera (extant & fossil)
Professional experience
since 2014 Laboratory Manager at Senckenberg Natural History Collections Dresden,
2005 – 2013 Laboratory Technician at Senckenberg Natural History Collections
Dresden, Germany
2001 – 2004 Scientific-trainee, Diptera section, State Natural History Collections
Dresden, Germany
University education
2009 Dissertation (PhD), Leuphana-University, Lüneburg, Germany
1999 Magister Artium (M.A.) in Applied Cultural Sciences, University Lüneburg,

Team Phylogeography
Marika Asztalos

I am working on the phylogeography and hybridization of green lizards (Lacerta viridis complex) – but snakes are also not too bad.

Cäcilia Spitzweg
Cäcilia Spitzweg
PhD Studentin

I am working on several turtle projects, among others within the frame of the Cold Code initiative

Team Phylogeography
Juan-Pablo Hurtado
PhD Student
Dr. Veerappan Depak
Dr. Veerappan Deepak
Humboldt Research Fellow

Dr. V. Deepak is a herpetologist working on conservation, ecology, systematics of amphibians and reptiles. He completed his PhD on Ecology and behaviour of Travancore tortoise in 2013. Current projects are macroevolutionary patterns, conservation and systematics of lizards, snakes and turtles with focus on South Asia.

2013 Doctor of Philosophy in Wildlife Science, Saurashtra University, Gujarat, India. Thesis title: Ecology and Behaviour of Travancore tortoise (Indotestudo travancorica) in Anamalai hills, Western Ghats.
2005 MSc degree in Wildlife Biology (Distinction) A.V.C College (autonomous), Bharathidasan University, Tamil Nadu, India.
2003 BSc degree in Zoology, Loyola College (autonomous) Madras University, Tamil Nadu, India.
Research Career
2017-2019 Marie-Curie Post-doc at the Natural History Museum, London. Funded by the EU. Horizon 2020. „Phenotypic and lineage diversification of natricine snakes“.
2013-2016 Post-doctoral researcher at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. Funded by Department of Biotechnology, Government of India “Phylogeography and molecular systematics of “Darwin’s lizard” the Sitana ponticeriana complex in the Indian Subcontinent”.
2007-2011 PhD student at Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, India affiliated to Saurashtra University. Funded by Ministry of Environment and Forest Grant-in-Aid, India “Ecology of two endemic turtles in the Western Ghats

Grants Received
2020 Humboldt Research Fellowship for Experienced Researchers- The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
2019 National Geographic Explorer grant – National Geographic Society.
2019 American Museum of Natural History, Collection study grants.
2017-2019 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions – European Commission (EU), Individual Fellowship. <URL>
2016-2017 The Rufford Foundation (USA), small research grants, Co-Applicant with Krishna Chaitanya, V. Giri & Caleb Daniel.
2017 Students Conference in Conservation Science, Miriam Rothschild Travel Bursary Programme (UK). <URL>
2014-2015 The Rufford Foundation (USA), small research grants, Co-Applicant with Aparna Lajmi & Aniruddha Datta-Roy.
2013-2015 Department of Biotechnology (India), post-doctoral research grants & fellowship
2011 The Kumble foundation (India), research grants.
2011 The Doris Norden Herpetological fund received from the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (India), research grants.
2010 Turtle Survival Alliance (USA), Travel Grant to attend 8th Freshwater turtle & tortoise Symposium, Florida, USA.
2008-2011 Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, India, Senior Research fellowship.
2006-2007 Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, India, Junior Research fellowship.

Editorial/Reviewer Responsibilities
Associate editor for Herpetological Journal 2020 – present. For submission follow this link:

Section Editor for Asian and Australasian snakes, Zootaxa 2020 – present. For submissions please use this email:

Reviewer for Asiatic Herpetological Research, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Biodiversity and Conservation, Biologia, Biological Journal of Linnaean Society, Current Science, Herpetology Notes, Journal of Biogeography, Journal of Herpetology, Journal of Natural History, Journal of Threatened Taxa, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Molecular Ecology, PeerJ, Russian Journal of Herpetology, Systematics & Biodiversity, Vertebrate Zoology, Zookeys, Zoological Research, Zootaxa

Supervising & Mentoring
Apr 2019 Co-supervising for one EDGE fellowship project “Status and conservation of Cantor’s Giant softshell Turtle” independent researcher, India. Student: Ayushi Jain

Sep 2018 Co-guide for one MRes project “Resolving the position of Macropisthodon rudis within Natricinae (Colubridae)” student from Imperial College, London. Student: Sarah-Jane Smith

Dec 2015 Co-guide for one Msc dissertation “Thermal Ecology of a Montane Lizard: an account on thermal biology, microhabitat use and activity budget of Salea horsfieldii in Nilgiris” student from Pondicherry University, India. Student: Caleb G Daniel

Aug 2013 Guide for one summer research fellow “Hemipenial morphology and its phylogenetics signals in some agamids lizards of south and central India” at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Student: Mohammad Asif

International Conference Attendance
2019 Evolution 2019, Providence, Rhode Island, USA. (poster presentation).
2019 Biennial Conference of the Systematics Association, Bristol, UK. (poster presentation)
2018 British Ecological Society (BES) Macroecology (and macroevolution) conference Scotland, UK.
2018 SICB Division of Vertebrate Morphology First European regional meeting, London, UK.
2017 Young Systematists’ Forum, organized by Systematics Association, Natural History Museum, London, UK.
2017 Venom Day, Bangor University, Wales, UK.
2017 Biogeography India meeting, International Biogeography Society, Bengaluru, India. (talk & poster presentation)
2010 8th Annual Symposium on conservation and biology of tortoises and freshwater turtles, Orlando, Florida, USA (invited presentations).

Museum Research Visits
Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata, India
Zoological Survey of India, Pune, India
Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai, India
Natural History Museum, London, UK
Natural History Museum, Berlin, Germany
Senckenberg Natural History Collections, Dresden, Germany
Natural History Museum, Paris, France
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C, USA
American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA

Research Expeditions
2020 India: Sky Island herpetofauna survey Anamalai and Nilgiris, Western Ghats.
2018 Ivory Coast: Herpetofaunal diversity documentation at Banco National Park, Abidjan.
2011 Egypt: Herpetofaunal diversity documentation in Sinai Peninsula.
2006-2010 India: Radio-telemetry, habitat mapping, population surveys of two endemic turtles in Western Ghats.
2012-2016 India: Fan-throated lizards sampling in 107 locations across dry-zones of India.
2005-2016 India: Herpetofaunal diversity documentation and collection in Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats and Northeast India.

Academic Websites
Orcid ID:
Zoobank ID:
Google Scholar:

Harikrishnan S, Deepak V & Vasudevan K. 2007. Report of painted bronze-back tree snake Dendrelaphis pictus Gmelin, 1789 from Anamalai’s, Western Ghats, India. Zoo’s Print Journal 22(2): 929.

Deepak V & Vasudevan K. 2008. Density and microhabitat association of Salea anamallayana in Eravikulam National Park, Western Ghats, India. Herpetological Journal 18: 165–170.

Naniwadekar R & Deepak V. 2008. New distribution record for Calotes nemoricola Jerdon, 1853 from the Kudremukh Hills, Karnataka, India. Journal of Bombay Natural History Society 105(1): 99.

Deepak V, Vasudevan K & Pandav B. 2009. Preliminary observations on the diet of cane turtle (Vijayachelys silvatica). Hamadryad 34(1):166–168.

Naniwadekar R & Deepak V. 2010. New distribution record for Hemidactylus prashadi Smith, 1935 (Family: Gekkonidae) from the Kudremukh forest complex, Karnataka, India. Journal of Bombay Natural History Society 107(3): 253–254

Deepak V, Harikrishnan S, Vasudevan K & Smith EN. 2010. Redescription of Bibron’s coralsnake, Calliophis bibroni JAN 1858 with notes and new records from south of the palghat and Shencottah gaps of the Western Ghats, India. Hamadryad 35(1): 1–10.

Raj P, Deepak V & Vasudevan K. 2011. Monitoring of breeding in Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis (Anura: Nasikabatrachidae) in the southern Western Ghats, India. Herpetology Notes 4: 11–16.

Harikrishnan S, Vasudevan K, De Silva A, Deepak V, Kar NB, Naniwadekar R, Lalremruata A, Prasoona RK & Aggarwal RK. 2012. Phylogeography of Dasia Gray, 1830 (Reptilia: Scincidae), with the descriptions of a new species from southern India. Zootaxa 3233: 37–51.

Guptha B, Prasad NVS & Deepak V*. 2012. Rediscovery and range extension of Coluber bholanathi Sharma, 1976 from Seshachalam hills, Andhra Pradesh, India. Herpetology Notes 5: 447–448.

Deepak V & Vasudevan K. 2012. Feeding ecology of the Travancore tortoise (Indotestudo travancorica) in the Anamalais, Western Ghats, India. Herpetology Notes 5: 203–209.

Smith EN, Ogale H, Deepak V & Giri VB. 2012. A new species of coralsnake of the genus Calliophis (Squamata: Elapidae) from the West Coast of Peninsular India. Zootaxa 3437: 51–68.

Raj P, Vasudevan K, Deepak V, Sharma R, Singh S, Aggarwal RK & Dutta SK. 2012. Larval morphology and ontogeny of Nasikabatrachus sahyadrensis Biju & Bossuyt, 2003 (Anura, Nasikabatrachidae) from Western Ghats, India. Zootaxa 3510: 65–76.

Deepak V & Vasudevan K. 2013. Aggressive interactions among male Cane Turtles Vijayachelys silvatica (Henderson, 1912). Herpetozoa 25(3/4): 159–163.

Deepak V* & Harikrishnan S. 2013. On the identity of two Oligodon species in the collection at Zoological Survey of India, Kolkata. Hamadryad 36(2): 182–184.

Datta-Roy A, Mohapatra PP, Dutta SK, Giri VB, Veerappan D, Maddock ST, Raj P, Agarwal I & Karanth P. 2013. A long-lost relic from the Eastern Ghats: Morphology, distribution and habitat of Sepsophis punctatus Beddome, 1870 (Squamata: Scincidae). Zootaxa 3670(1): 55–62.

Smart U, Deepak V & Vasudevan K. 2014. Preliminary ethogram and in situ time-activity budget of the enigmatic cane turtle (Vijayachelys silvatica) from the Western Ghats, South India. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 9(1): 116–122.

Datta-Roy A, Deepak V, Sidharthan C, Barley AJ & Karanth KP. 2015. An addition to the endemic Indian radiation of Eutropis: Phylogenetic position of Eutropis dissimilis (Squamata: Scincidae). Zootaxa 4027(1): 145–150.

Umapathy G, Deepak V, Kumar V, Chandrasekhar M & Vasudevan K. 2015. Endocrine profiling of endangered tropical chelonians using non-invasive faecal steroid analyses. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 14(1):108–115.

Deepak V & Vasudevan K. 2015. Factors influencing the occurrence and vulnerability of the Travancore tortoise Indotestudo travancorica in protected areas in south India. Oryx 48(3): 1–8.

Somaweera R, Pantoja DL & Deepak V*. 2015. Forgotten records of Chrysopelea taprobanica Smith, 1943 (Squamata: Colubridae) from India. Zootaxa 3947 (4): 597–600.

Guptha, B., Prasad NVS, Maddock ST & Deepak V*. 2015. First record of Chrysopelea taprobanica Smith, 1943 (Squamata: Colubridae) from India. Check List 11(1): 1–3.

Deepak V*, Vyas R, Giri VB & Karanth KP. 2015. A taxonomic mystery for more than 180 years: on the identity and systematic position of Brachysaura minor (Hardwicke and Gray, 1827). Vertebrate Zoology 65(3): 371–381.

Deepak V, Noon BR & Vasudevan K. 2015. Fine scale habitat selection in Travancore tortoise (Indotestudo travancorica) in the Anamalai hills, Western Ghats. Journal of Herpetology 50(2): 278–283.

Deepak V*, Giri VB, Asif M, Dutta SK, Vyas R, Zambre AM, Bhosale H & Karanth KP. 2016. Systematics and phylogeny of Sitana (Reptilia: Agamidae) of Peninsular India, with description of one new genus and five new species. Contributions to Zoology 85(1): 67–111.

Deepak V*, Khandekar A, Varma S & Chaitanya R. 2016. Description of a new species of Sitana Cuvier, 1829 from southern India. Zootaxa 4139 (2): 167–182.

Raveendran DK, Deepak V, Smith EN & Smart U. 2017. A new colour morph of Calliophis bibroni (Squamata: Elapidae) and evidence for Müllerian mimicry in Tropical Indian Coral snakes. Herpetology Notes 10: 209–217.

Mohapatra PP, Dutta SK, Kar NB, Das A, Murthy BHCK & Deepak V*. 2017. Ahaetulla nasuta anomala (Annandale, 1906) (Squamata: Colubridae), resurrected as a valid species with marked sexual dichromatism. Zootaxa 4263 (2): 318–332.

Giri VB, Deepak V*, Captain A, Das A, Das S, Rajkumar KP, Rathish RL & Gower DJ. 2017. A new species of Rhabdops Boulenger, 1893 (Serpentes: Natricinae) from the northern Western Ghats region of India. Zootaxa 4319 (1): 027–052.

Datta-Roy A, Deepak V, Chaitanya R, Murthy BHCK, Bhosale H, Lajmi A, Karanth PK, Kunte K & Giri VB. 2017. On the taxonomic status of Eurylepis poonaensis (Sharma, 1970) (Squamata: Scincidae): Resolving a long standing conundrum. Salamandra 53 (3): 389–397.

Chaitanya R, Giri VB & Deepak V*. 2017. On the recent designation of a neotype for the taxon Calotes versicolor (Daudin, 1802) (Reptilia: Agamidae). Zootaxa 4317 (3): 585–587.

Daniel CG, Sreekar R & Deepak V*. 2017. An ontogenetically stable sexual character in a montane agamid, Salea horsfieldii Gray, 1845 (Reptilia: Agamidae) from Nilgiris, India. Journal of Natural History: 1–12.

Deepak V* & Karanth P. 2018. Aridification driven diversification of fan-throated lizards from the Indian subcontinent. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 120: 53–62.

Wang K, Jiang K, Deepak V, Das A, Hou M, Che J & Siler CD. 2018. On the Occurrences of Japalura kumaonensis and J. tricarinata (Reptilia: Sauria: Draconinae) in China, with A Diagnostic Key to Japalura sensu lato from the Himalaya. Herpetologica 74: 181–190.

Deepak V*, Khandekar A, Chaitanya R & Karanth P. 2018. Descriptions of two new endemic and cryptic species of Sitana Cuvier, 1829 from Peninsular India. Zootaxa 4434 (2): 327–365.

Pal S, Vijayakumar SP, Shanker K, Jayarajan A & Deepak V*. 2018. A systematic revision of Calotes Cuvier, 1817 (Squamata: Agamidae) from the Western Ghats adds two genera and reveals two new species. Zootaxa 4482 (3): 401–450.

Wang K, Lin S, Deepak V, Datta-Roy A, Jiang K, Jin J, Yan F & Siler CD. 2018. Multilocus phylogeny and revised classification for mountain dragons of the genus Japalura sensu lato (Reptilia: Agamidae: Draconinae) from Asia. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society zly034: 1–22.

Deepak V*, Ruane S & Gower DJ. 2018. A new subfamily of fossorial colubroid snakes from the Western Ghats of peninsular India. Journal of Natural History 52: 2919–2934.

Deepak V, Narayanan S, Sarkar V, Dutta SK & Mohapatra PP. 2019. A new species of vine snake of genus Ahaetulla Link, 1807 (Serpentes: Colubridae: Ahaetullinae) from India. Journal of Natural History 53: 497–516.

Captain A, Deepak V, Pandit R, Bhatt B, Athreya R. 2019. A new species of pitviper from West Kameng district, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Russian Journal of Herpetology 26(2): 111–122.

Giri VB, Gower DJ, Das A, Lalremsanga HL, Lalronunga S, Captain A & Deepak V*. 2019. A new genus and species of natricine snake from the northeast India. Zootaxa 4603 (2): 241–264.

Giri VB, Chaitanya R, Mahony S, Lalronunga S, Lalrinchhana C, Das A, Sarkar V, Karanth P & Deepak V*. 2019. On the systematic status of the genus Oriocalotes Günther, 1864 (Squamata: Agamidae: Draconinae) with the description of a new species from Mizoram state, Northeast India. Zootaxa 4638 (4): 451– 484.

Giri VB, Deepak V, Captain A, Pawar S & Tillack F. 2019. A new species of Boiga Fitzinger, 1826 (Serpentes: Colubridae) from the northern Western Ghats of India. Journal of Bombay Natural History Society 116: 1–11.

Chaitanya R, Giri VB, Deepak V, Datta-Roy A, Murthy BHCK, Karanth P. 2019. Diversification in the mountains: a generic reappraisal of the Western Ghats endemic gecko genus Dravidogecko Smith, 1933 (Squamata: Gekkonidae) with descriptions of six new species Zootaxa 4688(1): 001–056.

Deepak V*, Narayanan S, Das S, Rajkumar KP, Easa PS, Sreejith KA & Gower DJ. 2020. Description of a new species of Xylophis Beddome, 1878 (Serpentes: Pareidae: Xylophiinae) from the Western Ghats, India Zootaxa 4755 (2): 231–250.

Lalronunga S, Lalrinchhana C, Vanramlina, Das A, Gower DJ & Deepak V*. 2020. A multilocus molecular perspective on the systematics of the poorly known Northeast Indian colubrid snakes Blythia reticulata (Blyth, 1854), B. hmuifang Vogel, Lalremsanga & Vanlalhrima, 2017, and Hebius xenura (Wall, 1907). Zootaxa 4768 (2): 193–200.

Vogel G, Chen Z, Deepak V, Gower DJ, Shi J, Ding L & Hou M. 2020. A new species of the genus Smithophis Giri, Gower, Das, Lalremsanga, Lalronunga, Captain & Deepak, 2019 (Squamata: Serpentes: Natricidae) from southwestern China and northeastern Myanmar. Zootaxa 4803 (1): 051–074.

Das A, Gower DJ & Deepak V*. 2020. Lost and found: rediscovery and systematics of the North East Indian snake Hebius pealii (Sclater, 1891). Vertebrate Zoology. 70 (3): 305–318.

Conradie W, Deepak V, Keates C & Gower DJ. 2020. Kissing cousins: a review of the African genus Limnophis Günther, 1865 (Colubridae: Natricinae), with the description of a new species from north-eastern Angola. African Journal of Herpetology: 1–29.

Das A, Deepak V*, Wade E.O. Captain A & Gower DJ. 2020. Description of a new species of Smithophis Giri et al. 2019 (Serpentes: Colubridae: Natricinae) from Arunachal Pradesh, India. Zootaxa 4860 (2): 267–283.

Mitarbeiter Jason Ali
Dr.  Jason Ali
Honorary Associate Researcher
Email: ResearchGate: Google Scholar: