November 2023

End of year, farewells and good wishes

We have had an exciting and productive 2023, check out our publication page to stay tuned with our latest research. Sadly, we say goodbye to Jody and Cath as they have finished their Honours degree but wish them the best for their next adventures. Congrats to Jody for getting accepted for a Masters programme in Climate Change and Development (ACDI group) at UCT. Best wishes to Gaylen for landing an entomology job at ExperiCo Agri-Research Solutions, well done! We will miss Gaylen’s super dedication to climbing trees and collecting beetles!

September 2023

Susana’s inaugural, yay!

This time finally arrived! I am now a full Professor and trying to not feel too old. My inaugural presentation and gathering was a great event and a special occasion to celebrate with my family, friends and colleagues. Above all, it was a great opportunity to thank all my collaborators and students that have shaped and contributed to the CL•I•M•E lab over the years, it was so special to see some of my past postgraduate students and so many kids in the audience! What a treat! If you missed it, there is a recording here and interview here.

Thank you to Stellenbosch University and the inaugural organizing team for supporting this event.

August 2023

News and conferences in 2023

We have been slow at giving news this year! It has been a very busy year for the PI as teaching
resumed in full speed, in person, and with very large classes! New postgrad students, Perry, Cath
and Jody have tackled their projects with vitality and wit, and we are making progress with lady
beetle collections, rearing, machine learning and so much more! Gerhard has had success with a
state-of-the art set-up measuring respiratory and cutaneous water loss of lizards in the lab thanks to
his creativity and persistence. Data are looking promising, yay! Some of us had the opportunity to
attend conferences, Gerhard attended the Herpetological Society of Africa in January, Susana
attended the Society of Experimental Biology in Edinburgh in July, Gaylen and Perry attended the
Entomological Society of Southern Africa in August. We are grateful to all the funders that supported
these opportunities!

August 2022

Ecological Society Meeting of America

I feel very privileged to have attended a fantastic Ecological Society Meeting of America this year in Montreal after 2.5 years of no travel. I am hoping that more of us in the CL•I•M•E lab will be attending these meetings in the future. I took the opportunity to meet up with some colleagues and attend some great sessions: those that stood out the most covered topics on individual stochasticity in life-history attributes and other traits (the “born with it or just luck?” of individual variation!) and I also enjoyed workshops relating to 1) ecologists’ perspectives on COP26/27 and where we are now and 2) how to build emotional resilience to eco-grief and climate-anxiety in ecological courses. Lots to take in but all very useful and relevant (plus some ideas for future research!).

September 2022

We are seeking to recruit new PhD students for 2023!

Check the Opportunities section of the website for more details. –

December 2021

We have wrapped up 2021 with success!

Some highlights for the end of year: Federico Massetti received his PhD degree with high colours, bravo! We are looking forward to seeing his interesting chapters on the relationship between skin reflectance, heating rates and environmental data of cordylids published soon and accessible to everyone. Amy Williams and Heinre Stander presented successfully their projects and received their honours degree, well done to both of you and well deserved after a year of hard work! Gaylen Carelse and Nicole Martin both received awards for best presentations at the CIB annual research meeting, nicely done and we are very proud of these achievements. Welri Nortje, Nicole Martin and myself attended and presented at the International Congress of Zoology, which was yet another virtual experience and agreed that after two years, we are ready to have real face to face conversations with scientists in 2022! We had a couple more papers accepted for publication, so check out the publications page. We finished off the year by attending the Dept. end of year function in the beautiful  wine(windy)lands (where some bubbly had to be had!) and we are looking forward to a fun and successful 2022.

September 2021

Beating the heat: opening the climate change forecasting toolbox

Forecasting the vulnerability of species to climate change requires the right tools for the job and knowing which tools to apply in a specific situation is a challenging enterprise. In collaboration with Prof. Ary Hoffmann from the University of Melbourne (Australia), Dr. Raquel Garcia and Prof. John Terblanche from Stellenbosch University, we have recently proposed how to improve the current, widely adopted thermal vulnerability index approach, while understanding some of its inherent assumptions and limitations, in a recent publication in Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

In the Media – Mail & Guardian

July 2021

Legacies, hard boundaries and adaptation to temperature extremes explain the variation of temperature tolerance across the tree of life

Ectothermic organisms rely on their surrounding conditions to maintain temperatures within a range that optimizes essential activities such as running, foraging and reproducing. Beyond this range, their performance or fitness decreases with a particularly fast loss of performance at high temperatures. Therefore, the temperature limits (also known as critical thermal limits) that encapsulate animal performance are expected to be good predictors of cold and warm boundaries delimiting the geographic distributions of species…

Read more here

April 2020

Congratulations Dr Alujevic!

Karla Alujevic received her PhD degree in virtual space 😉

Congratulations Dr Alujevic!

October 2019

Thermal landscape change as a driver of ectotherm responses to plant invasions.

With a changing climate it becomes even more important to understand how animals experience temperature on the ground. On a warm summer’s day, air temperature sensors might reach 30°C or more, yet a lizard will feel the heat differently in its own environment. One reason for such a difference is the vegetation…

Read more here

Sept 2019

Pauline Dufour is back.

Pauline Dufour (from HKU) is back for the third and last field season of her PhD, looking at the thermal biology of nocturnal and diurnal lizards.

Welcome back!

August 2019

Can we predict the capacity for thermoregulatory behaviour to buffer climate warming impacts?

A large diversity of animals can use behavioural thermoregulation, which is the selection of microhabitats such as shade and sun patches or changes in activity patterns within days or between seasons, to maintain preferred body temperatures. While most people will readily associate these events to for example, a lizard basking in the sun, most animals…

Read more here

August 2019

As climate changes, species – including humans – are on the move!

Notes from Species on the Move conference.

I have just returned from a great conference called “Species on the Move” in Kruger National Park, South Africa (22-26 July 2019, convened by Gretta Pecl from the University of Tasmania, Australia and Warwick Sauer from Rhodes University, South Africa), and thought I will give a few (not exhaustive!) highlights from the meeting…

Read More here

August 2019

Global Change Biology

Check out our recent paper with Dr Sam Fey as lead author in Global Change Biology. For a snippet, see here.

Opportunities for behavioral rescue under rapid environmental change.
Fey, SBVasseur, DAAlujević, K, et al. Opportunities for behavioral rescue under rapid environmental changeGlobal Change Biology2019253110– 3120

February 2019

Assessing lizards’ vulnerability to warming: how close should we zoom in?

Climate data are increasingly accessible and are being used to predict which species are most vulnerable to climate change. The available datasets often consist of monthly measurements or predictions for locations every dozens or hundreds of kilometres. Can such coarse data provide realistic vulnerability assessments for small organisms…

Read more here

January 2017

Effects of invasive alien pine trees on lizard communities in fynbos.

Invasions by alien pine trees (Pinus spp.) can have a negative impact on native lizard species by changing their native habitat, according to a recent C·I·B study published in Oecologia. The research by former C·I·B student, Elsje Schreuder and C·I·B Core Team Member, Susana Clusella-Trullas, found that pine plantations and native fynbos vegetation invaded by dense stands of pine trees had fewer lizard species…

Read more here

March 2016

Harlequin ladybirds are conquering the world at great speed

Citizen scientists help to study unwelcome invasive insects in greater depth. The arrival and subsequent dramatic increase in the number of the invasive alien harlequin ladybird in many countries has been met with considerable trepidation by the scientific community. The rapid spread of this species has inspired biologists to study the process…

Read more here

March 2016

First finding of a parasitic fungus on ladybirds in South Africa

The first detection of the parasitic fungus Hesperomyces virescens on ladybirds (coccinellid beetles) in South Africa was made by a team of researchers from Harvard University and Stellenbosch University. The study by Danny Haelewaters (Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University), C·I·B core team member Susana Clusella-Trullas and C·I·B PhD student Ingrid Minnaar, looked at the occurrence…

Read more here

April 2015

A biocontrol agent persists under climate change

The water fern (Salvinia molesta) is an aggressive invader of freshwater systems where it affects the services that these ecosystems deliver. Fortunately, the use of a natural enemy of the water fern (a biological control agent), the weevil (Cyrtobagous salviniae) has been highly successful in many countries, including South Africa where the water fern is no longer considered to be problematic….

Read more here

November 2013

Lack of coherence in the warming responses of marine crustaceans

Determining the extent to which organisms are able to tolerate and respond to climate change is important for assessing species vulnerability and informing strategies for biodiversity management. Recent work has demonstrated that responses to warming may be less variable and more predictable in marine than in terrestrial organisms. Variation in the upper limits of temperature….

Read more here

September 2015

Examining the link between climate change and species invasions

Temperature is one of the most important factors affecting species distributions. Climate change is expected to change temperature regimes and cause poleward and upslope shifts in native species ranges. Non-indigenous species provide an opportunity to witness the establishment of range boundaries in a way that cannot be observed for native species…..

Read more here

May 2011

Novel climate predictors of reptile performance at global scales

The determination of best climatic predictors of whole-organismal performance is essential to improve current and forecast impacts of climate change on organisms. Most of the emphasis on global climate change and its effects on organismal performance concerns mean temperature conditions despite known changes in other climatic variables such as precipitation, cloud cover and temperature variability….

Read more here