Ecophysiological responses to climate change in a cold-adapted specialist, the Common lizard

In a changing world, species must constantly cope with predictable and unpredictable environments. If natural selection shapes adaptations on the long run, the recent changes caused by human activities often occur too fast for the individuals to correctly adjust their physiology and behavior. However, how these proximal responses potentially lead to fitness costs and population decline remain largely misunderstood. For my research, I use an ecophysiological approach, to propose mechanistic understanding of individual performance and demographic trends. Thus far, I have mostly focused on ectothermic Squamates (lizards & snakes), given their direct sensitivity to climate conditions. For example, the Common lizard (Zootoca vivipara) is a cold-adapted specialist, typical representative of humid areas all over Europe. This species has been extirpated from lowland habitats in the South margin of its distribution because of abnormally warm and dry conditions, whereas it is rapidly colonizing newly (thermally) suitable habitats in the highland. I will present a combination of experimental and comparative studies across altitude to illustrate that temperature and water availability are critical determinant of i) genetic diversity and structuration, ii) reproductive tradeoffs, and iii) demographic trends in this ectotherm.


I completed my studies in Ecophysiology and Ethology in France (University of Rennes and U. of Strasbourg) and Canada (Ottawa U.). I obtained my PhD in 2014 from the French Center of Scientific Research at the Center of Biological Studies of Chize. For my PhD, I showed in particular that once water is depleted, it induces serious constraints on reproduction in the aspic viper and an associated mother-offspring conflicts. I then joined the Paris Institute of Environmental studies (Sorbonne U.) and later the Ectopyr team in the Pyrenean Field Research station of Moulis for my postdoctoral research. Over these 3.5 years, I conducted research on the common lizard to examine the impacts of temperature and water availability on many physiological responses both in natural and experimental conditions. I am now a postdoctoral fellow at Monash U. supervising by A/Prof Anne Peters and working on a project on superb fairy wrens in collaboration with Loeske Kruuk and Andrew Cockburn from the ANU. This project aims to clarify the impacts of thermal stress on bird cellular aging.