Daniel Nicholson

Daniel Nicholson

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Daniel Nicholson

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Start Year

2016 (Cohort 3)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

Contemporary Evolution of a Tropical Ectotherm in Response to Environmental Change

Research Theme

Evolution and Adaptation

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Secondary Supervisor
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How species will cope with climate change is a hotly contested subject. There can be no doubt that for many species, the consequences of climate warming and greater environmental extremes will be detrimental. Certain species are more at risk than others, tropical ectotherms are one such “high risk” group of organisms as they are susceptible to temperature increase and temperature fluctuations, particularly at the time frame of current temperature changes. Whether evolution can help mitigate this susceptibility to climate change and how it might do so is not fully understood. This PhD (with Queen Mary University, IOZ and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute) will investigate the evolutionary ecology of a Anolis species under environmental change, focusing on selection pressures and how/if it influences evolution. Anolis apletophallus populations will be transplanted from sites across mainland Panama to small islands across Lake Gatun (Panama Canal). These islands have different environmental conditions (higher temperatures) to the mainland. Morphological (Body length, mass, limb length, top pad size etc) and physiological (metabolic rate and panting threshold) traits will be measured in all individuals across generations (in a 3.5-year period) and compared to the mainland population, to assess the population changes. Ultimately this project will ascertain how and if the change in environment influences evolution and what this might mean for tropical ectotherms.

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