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Body size and integrative ecology

Body size and integrative ecology in Malagasy chameleon communities, implications for conservation

PhD Proposal

Body size and ecology: Projets

Understanding the formation and coexistence of species communities is essential for conservation. Although the impact of body size on species ecology remains largely untested, Madagascar's chameleons offer a unique opportunity to explore these ideas. Our project proposes an integrative approach to studying the relationship between the size of chameleons and their environment at different scales. This will lead to a better understanding of species distribution and the development of appropriate conservation measures, particularly for small species whose ecology remains poorly understood. This work will also have implications for the study of other biological systems.

Body size and ecology: Notre ferme

Field data collection

Two three-month field missions will be conducted in Madagascar, during winter and summer, to study seasonal variations in chameleon abundance in the Vohimana, Marojejy, and Montagne d’Ambre reserves. Each reserve is selected for the diversity of its communities and the size range of the species composing them. We will use quadrats along transects and nocturnal surveys to inventory the species. Metabolic, morphological, and habitat data will be collected, providing crucial information for chameleon conservation.

field data collection
Body size and ecology: Notre ferme
barcoding (1).jpg

Body size and metabolism

We will assess the impact of body size on chameleon metabolism by measuring physiological activity in three distinct communities. We will analyze their oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production to assess their basal metabolism and energy requirements. Metabarcoding analysis will also be conducted on collected feces to identify dietary habits. These analyses will help understand how these parameters influence chameleon behavior and environmental occupancy.

Source: Pinho, Catarina J., et al. (2023). Green matters: Dietary assessment of a reptile community using DNA metabarcoding. Global Ecology and Conservation, vol. 47, p. 1-12.

Body size and ecology: Notre ferme

Body size and population size

To understand the impact of body size on individual abundance at the landscape scale, we will estimate population density and size based on field-collected data. We will use statistical methods to assess densities at three study sites, considering the sampled habitat area and individual detection. These efforts will provide crucial data for conservation, aligned with IUCN assessment criteria, and may serve as a basis for a model estimating population size for other taxa.


Body size and population size
Body size and ecology: Notre ferme
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Ecological niches modeling

Using the aforementioned data, we will develop ecological niche models to assess the influence of body size on habitat occupation. These models will incorporate metabolic, physiological, and environmental data to predict areas where chameleons are most likely to be present. From these findings, we can map the spatial distributions of the studied species, thereby identifying environmental factors influencing their presence and enhancing conservation strategies by targeting priority species and habitats.

Source: Galante, Peter J., et al. (2018). The challenge of modeling niches and distributions for data-poor species: a comprehensive approach to model complexity. Ecography, vol. 41, no 5, p. 726-736.

Body size and ecology: Notre ferme

3 years

currently being estimated

ID 1.2

Body size and ecology: Infographics


ONG Homme et Environnement logo
parc zoologique paris mnhn logo
université Copenhague
Ben-Gurion University
Body size and ecology: Clients
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