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VULNERAWEB: A Web Platform for Forecasting Species Climatic Vulnerability.

     This project is funded by the Horizon 2020 fund of the European Union. It seeks to prepare a web platform capable of identifying climatic risks for species, and attracting an international community of experts to help practitioners during this task. Although originally designed for lizards, it is currently growing towards other evaluating the capacity of known measures of heat tolerance to predict geographic thermal limits, such as anurans, arthropods and mammals. The platform will use the best possible data available to produce assessments of geographic vulnerability for public organisms interested in species conservation and research.


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Relationships between heat tolerance and the maximum temperatures that animal species experience across their geographic ranges. Hotter colors indicate relationships for species whose heat tolerance was more challenged by environmental temperatures experienced. CTmax: thermal limits. UTNZ: Thermoneutral Zone. In a nutshell, heat tolerance becomes less important for species living at colder ranges relative to their heat tolerance. Our results strongly suggest that measurement of thermal tolerance is essential for predicting geographic restrictions imposed by future climatic warming.

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Evaluating thermal tolerance parameters used to predict climatic risk

    This project was funded by Brazil's National Postdoctoral Program and developed at the Department of Physiology of the Biosciences Institute of São Paulo University. Through collaborations with Drs. Fernando Ribeiro Gomes, Miguel Trefaut Rodrigues and André Helene Frazão, and several students (see gallery), I evaluated how behavioral and physiological tolerance descriptors react to changes in organisms' condition (i.e. body size) and environment (heating rates).

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Vtmax (lower line) and CTmax measured in leaf cutting ants show different relationships with their body size, making average-size workers more "thermally daring". Colors represent ants coming from different ant nests.

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Changes in preferred temperatures of bullfrogs exposed to differently dessicating environments. In more dessicating environments, bullfrogs quickly pass to prefer lower temperatures, and even lower ones as time passes and they become less hydrated.

Use of voluntary maximum temperatures for linking thermal physiology and species geographic range size in lizards.

     In this international project funded by the FAPESP, I contacted with Drs. Mike Angilleta, Ofir Levy, John Vander Brooks, Rory Telemeco, John Wiens, Dale deNardo and an amazing team of students to develop a robust method for estimating the voluntary maximum temperature of different lizard species, understanding the consequences of being exposed to it, and showing how important it is for detecting vulnerability to climate warming in lizards.


Blue colors indicate places where temperatures will overcome the voluntary thermal maximum of Tree lizards, causing damage to local populations of this species in North America.

Left, measuring the voluntary thermal maximum of tree lizards (Urosaurus ornatus). Rigth, tree lizard panting while being subjected to its voluntary thermal maximum.

Ecogeographical consequences of the evolution of the snake-like morphotype in squamates

     In this international project I relate the evolution of snake like phenotypes with changes at the species level (geographic range and habitats). This project funded by the FAPESP was conducted in collaboration with Drs. Miguel Rodrigues and Tiana Kohlsdorf in Brazil, and Mike Lee, Brett Goodman, Adam Skinner and Mark Hutchison  in Australia, and John Wiens in U.S.


Smaller distribution ranges of snake-like lizards compared to four-legged relatives in South America and Australia.

Investigating the impact of seismic surveys on threatened sea snakes in Australia's North West Shelf. 

    In this project, developed in North Western Australia, we aimed to identify whether sound-gun vessel noise would affect the feeding behavior of sea snakes These ships emit a superpowerful  low frequency wave to detect gas and oil under the sea bottom and might have been linked to recent snk of sea-snake population in pristine Australian islands. In collaboration with Drs. Kate Sanders and Lucille Chapuis we developed and implement a field procedure to evaluate this effect. Funded by the Australia & Pacific Science Foundation


Testing a sound emitting device and underwater microphone (left) and searching for a place where to place our camera traps (above).

The evolution of fossoriality in Gymnophthalmini lizards

    This was my PHD project, where, in collaboration with Drs. Miguel Rodrigues, and Carlos Navas, I analyzed how snake-like lizards evolve. Especifically, how physiology interacts with burrowing behavior and locomotor performance,  resulting in changes in microhabitat use and population density. Funded by CAPES and FAPESP, this funny project involved intensive fieldwork in remote areas of Brazil, laboratory experiments, a great deal of statistical analyses, and even developing a videogame for studying how speed, escape strategy and morphology. affected lizard's ability to escape visually oriented predators. You can play the Lizard Chase online, click on the "More" button, in this page.


Phylogenetic relationships among gymnophthalmidae lizards showing the evolution of a snake-like morphotype.

Spatiotemporal profile of sand temperatures from (left)  low land sites and (right) a high land sites. The latter are inhabited by basal, lacertoid species of Gymnopthalmini lizards. At the hottest time of the day, burrowing only helps escaping deadly temperatures (above 43 C°) if lizards can reach below 7 cm of sand. Only the snake-like species are able to do that.

Understanding the relationships of lizards with their habitats and microhabitats

     During my Master's project, I studied how lizards' assemblage traits, like the abundance, biomass, and species richness change as a function of the dominant species and an environmental gradient from coastal open areas (called "Restingas") to higher ground forests. Collaborated with Drs. Pedro Rocha and José Vivas-Miranda.

Phyllopezus lutzae,  a gecko with strong preference for living on bromeliads and palms (Praia do  Forte. BA. Brazil)

Natural vegetation gradient at the northern littoral of Bahia, Brazil. As we come closer to the coast, both vegetation structure and the abundance and biomass of lizards assemblages changes. Changes in assemblage properties are heavily driven by the change in dominant lizard species.

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