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Climate Change Physiology

Our research aims to assess the capacity of physiological flexibility to buffer the adverse effects of climate change.

The over-arching aim of our research is to investigate the physiological flexibility, which may enable long-lived mammals to cope with climate change (Hetem et al. 2014). To date, we have primarily focused on the physiological flexibility of antelope, which, because of their evolutionary past and ability to selectively cool their brains (Strauss et al. 2017), may be particularly good at adapting to hot and dry conditions.

It will become increasingly important to understand the physiological mechanisms employed by mammals in arid regions (Fuller et al. 2021) so that we may better monitor and predict species responses to the increased aridity predicted for large regions of Africa (Fuller et al. 2016). However, there are a number of misconceptions about fundamental thermal physiological principles that may undermine such efforts (Mitchell et al. 2018).

We therefore require an integrative approach and collaboration between physiologists, zoologists, ecologists, veterinarians and wildlife managers to conserve biodiversity as we face the greatest global challenge.

Much of our research uses biologging to remotely measure behavioural patterns and physiological responses in free-living terrestrial mammals. Specifically, we are interested in the variability of body temperature rhythm that can be used as an index of stress, highlighting periods when individuals are immunologically challenged (febrile) or physiologically stressed by food and water limitations (Hetem et al. 2016).