Climate Change Institute Lecture Series
Dr. Danielle Levesque
Assistant Professor of Mammalogy and Mammalian Health
School of Biology & Ecology, University of Maine
I am an evolutionary and ecological physiologist primarily interested in the comparative energetics and the evolution of mammalian temperature regulation. My research lies at the intersections of comparative physiology, ecology and evolutionary biology, and the synergies between these disciplines. Through field and laboratory based experiments, I seek to understand how rigidity or flexibility in metabolism and body temperature regulation affects the energetics of a species, and how their evolutionary history has shaped these patterns. The data obtained through studying thermoregulation and energetics can have multiple applications. By understanding the dynamics of the relationship between an animal and its thermal environment, we can better predict energy budgets and responses to changes in climate and resource availability. As such, physiological data are vital for the development of realistic, predictive, models assessing the vulnerability of species to climate change; a large part of the newly emerging field of conservation physiology. Using small mammals as model organisms, my research at the University of Maine seeks to address gaps in our fundamental understanding of mammalian energetics using a combination of laboratory and field-based projects aimed at elucidating the effects of activity, humidity and high ambient temperature on the performance (and ultimately the distribution) of mammals.