January 13, 2017

James Hicks

James Hicks 400 x 400 px

PhD: Dragons Feel the Heat: the Thermal Vulnerability of Malaysian Agamid Lizards in a Human Altered Landscape

Sir Clive Granger Building
University of Nottingham

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I completed my Undergraduate and Masters degrees at Bangor University in Zoology with Herpetology and am now based in the School of Geography, University of Nottingham. I have a lifelong passion for natural history in general, especially reptiles and have pursued every opportunity to study this group of animals. I have previously worked with these animals in the UK, Arizona and Tenerife and have a background in their captive husbandry, especially the Agamidae, a family of lizards which are also the focus of my PhD.

Research Project:

My project aims to look at how land use change in South East Asia will affect the native lizard species in terms of their thermal ecology and morphological trait differences between populations in differing habitat types, in particular, oil palm plantations and rainforest. Reptiles are ectothermic and their performance and thus, survival is highly tied to the body temperatures they can achieve/avoid. With this in mind, climate change is obviously a major concern and a substantial body of research exists to confirm that this gradual change could severely impact reptile populations globally. Land use change, on the other hand, also produces drastically different microclimates but is near instantaneous, allowing no time for adaptation and yet the effects this may have on reptiles’ thermal ecology has not been studied thus far. We aim to address this using Peninsular Malaysia as a study region, where a diverse, vibrant lizard fauna exists in a range of habitats from pristine primary rainforest to vast swathes of plantation.