Conflicts between water and heat balance during reproduction: a basis of climate vulnerability in a viviparous reptile?

Supervision: Jean-François Le Galliard, CNRS and Olivier Lourdais, CNRS
Host laboratory: UMR 7618 iEES Paris, Sorbonne Université
Fieldwork and experiments: Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé et Massif Central
Collaboration with scientists involved in the ANR Project Aquatherm
Thesis period: October 2018 to September 2021

Studies of the combined effects of global warming and changes in water availability are needed to better understand and mitigate the impacts of climate change on biodiversity. A large number of studies have examined the impact of thermal conditions on terrestrial ectotherms but effects of water availability remain underestimated so far. However, global warming involves joint changes in thermal and water conditions that are difficult to predict from single-factor studies.

This PhD project aims to develop a deeper understanding of the feedbacks between hydroregulation and thermoregulation at the time of pregnancy in terrestrial ectotherms. For this purpose, we will focus on the thermal and water biology of the adder (Vipera berus), a Euro-Siberian species that exploits fresh and wet environments and is characterised by a long gestation period. The doctoral project will combine (1) field and laboratory measures of individual thermoregulatory and hydroregulatory capacity, (2) laboratory experiments of chronic thermal stress and water restriction at the time of gestation, and (3) comparative studies with other species of snakes. We will combine these approaches to understand the physiological niche of this species and its response to different climate change scenarios.

The fundamental questions studied during the doctoral project will be:
• What are the physiological conflicts between hydric and thermal needs at the individual level?
• what is the window of sensitivity to water restriction during pregnancy and how do thermal and water conditions interact?
• what are the mechanisms of acclimation and adaptation to joint thermal and water constraints?

The candidate must have a strong knowledge of animal zoology and ecophysiology, experimental methods, statistical analysis, and good knowledge of evolutionary ecology and animal ecology. A taste for fieldwork, seriousness and rigor for the conduct of experimental protocols and a capacity for self-employment will be appreciated. The student will have to contribute to the joint activities of the laboratory and be mobile between the different project sites. The research will be financed by the ANR Aquatherm project (2018-2021) associating 4 partner laboratories and with complementary skills from the CNRS.

Applications should made before May 31, 2018 online on the website of Ecole doctorale 227. For more detailed information, please contact Jean-François Le Galliard et Olivier Lourdais.

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