An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

September Scientist of the month: Dr. Nicola Mitchell

 September 2013


Nicki is an integrative biologist with a research profile across several fields in physiological ecology and conservation biology. She completed her PhD at the University of Adelaide in 2000 on the reproductive biology of terrestrial-breeding frogs, and has conducted research at several Australian and overseas universities. She joined the University of Western Australia in 2005 where she now coordinates the first year biology program and involves students in collecting data for ClimateWatch and publishing analysis of the data on an online journal. Her major research theme is reproduction and climate where she examines the mechanisms by which the traits of offspring (including sex ratios in reptiles) are modified by the developmental environment, asking whether behavioural or physiological plasticity could be an adaptive response to environmental change. She currently leads a multidisciplinary project to develop site selection tools for assisted colonisation.

What made you decide to study the effect of climate change on animals?

"I have studied animals in some fairly extreme environments, and as a physiologist it was obvious that temperature and water availability are key drivers of their life history. Now that evidence of rapid changes in our climate is indisputable, the ability to predict how species will respond will be critical to deciding the optimum strategy for their conservation."

Dr. Nicki Mitchell has research expertise in amphibians, reptiles, environmental physiology,  temperature-dependent sex determination, assisted colonization, modelling.  She is an Associate Professor at the University of Western Australia and is on the ClimateWatch Science Advisory Panel.  

If you have a question about for Nicki about reptiles and climate change, please send us a question