October 31, 2022

Sophie Mowbray

Photo of Sophie Mowbray

PhD: The impact of climate change on the thermal ecology of cold-adapted butterflies

Location: Lancaster University

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My particular research interests lie in ecology and conservation, especially butterfly ecology. I have an integrated master’s degree in conservation biology and ecology at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall campus in Penryn. During this degree, I conducted research projects looking at behavioural thermoregulation and microclimate use in silver studded blue butterflies, and looking at temperature dependence in the spot patterns of meadow brown butterflies. I knew that I was keen to continue to study insects, and I was particularly interested in ecological research which has practical implications for informing conservation practises.

My PhD project is looking at the impact of climate change on the thermal ecology of cold adapted butterflies. Cold adapted species are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and therefore are a conservation priority. This research will involve looking at how increasing temperatures are affecting northern UK butterfly species, including at a microclimatic scale, and how the species are adapting to such changes. Using a combination of field research, ecological experiments and modelling techniques, I will research whether microclimate management can be used as a means to improve the resilience of cold adapted insects to climate change.