November 10, 2022

Miary Raselimanana

Photo of Miary Raselimanana

PhD: Climate change effects on biodiversity: impacts of increased overwinter temperatures on UK reptiles

Location: Bangor University


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Coming from a biodiversity hotspot like Madagascar, I had the opportunity to discover wildlife at an early age. I was particularly fascinated by chameleons. While children in my country used to organize chameleon battles and then kill them, I preferred to capture all sorts of insects to gauge what the chameleons appreciated the most. This is how my first “experiments” began, which I believe sparked my interest in ecology. Pursuing this lingering curiosity for chameleon ecology and wanting to learn more about biodiversity conservation, I conducted a Master’s study on chameleon habitat use in Madagascar’s dry forests. During my Master’s research, I had the opportunity to work on a short-lived chameleon (Furcifer labordi) with an unusual annual life history. I studied the phenology and growth plasticity under climatic variation in this chameleon. The results were presented at the Herpetological Association of Africa Conference in 2019 and I was fortunate to win the best poster presentation. Then, I published it as my first first-authored paper in 2021 in Salamandra.


I have always wanted to take the findings from my first paper and scale them up to other systems and related problems. Being awarded an Envision DTP studentship provides me this opportunity by conducting a PhD on the effects of winter climate change on British reptiles as part of the MacLeod Lab. Using the common wall lizard (Podarcis muralis) as a biological model, I will assess the physiological and behavioural effects of warming winter on reptiles under experimentally manipulated thermal conditions during hibernation. This will help us understand the effects of climate change on individual fitness. Moreover, I will examine the association of past thermal shifts – focusing on periods of significant winter warming – with the phenology and distribution of British reptiles. This will help us understand how reptile populations will interact under future climate scenarios.