Public Events

30 Mar 2016

Cold blood in a hotter world: the future of reptiles in the Anthropocene


This talk recorded on Wed 30 March 2016, 6pm at University of Nottingham Kuala Lumpur Teaching Centre, Level 2, Chulan Tower, Number 3 Jalan Conlay, Kuala Lumpur.


Dr. Adam Algar

Dr. Adam Algar holds a PhD in Biology from the University of Ottawa and spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow in the Herpetology Department of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University. His research aims to discover how climate affects the evolution and ecology of organisms, especially lizards in the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. His work focuses on linking local and global perspectives, and integrates approaches from physiology, ecology and geographic information systems. Currently Dr Algar is an Assistant Professor in Biogeography in the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham, UK. He is working to understand how climate and land use change will affect lizards in Peninsula Malaysia.

Seminar Summary

Climate change is rapidly increasing temperature worldwide, endangering biodiversity. But why is rising temperature such a threat? One reason is that a plant or animal’s body temperature determines its pace of life — from the rate of the smallest chemical reaction in a cell to how quickly an entire plant or animal can grow. Every species on Earth has an optimal temperature – for humans, and most other mammals, that temperature is  approximately 37° Celsius. As ‘endotherms’  or  warm-blooded  organisms, we are able to generate our own body heat to keep our body temperature close to this optimum. However, the vast majority of species do not have this ability. Most species are ‘ectotherms’ (cold-blooded) and thus depend on their surroundings for heat. This reliance on external temperatures makes climate change a particular challenge for ectotherms, who may struggle   to maintain optimal temperatures in a warmer world, leading to a loss of ecological function, population decline and, possibly, extinction. In this talk, I will explore how rising temperatures may affect the future of reptiles globally and particularly in Southeast Asia. Lastly, I will propose that land use change is an unexplored thermal threat for reptiles in an increasingly human-dominated world.