Consequences of extreme climate conditions for animals




Feeling the Heat

O. Franken

prof.dr. J. Ellers, prof.dr. M.P. Berg

Faculty of Science

Earth and Life Sciences

PhD conferral

VU researcher Oscar Franken - Animal Ecology - researched how we can better understand the effect of climate extremes on animals, such as insects and spiders.

With the knowledge gained, Franken has developed a new research setup (CLIMECS). CLIMECS makes it possible to carry out experiments with complex climate manipulations, including extreme situations.

Ecological issue
Climate change has all kinds of effects, such as an increase in frequency, intensity and duration of extreme circumstances. These extremes are very important from an ecological point of view, because they often occur suddenly. As a result, animals have no time to adjust or to move to a more moderate location. There is a good chance that during these extremes, physiological limits of the species of animals are exceeded. This can lead to a change in animal performance (survival, growth and reproduction), interactions between species and the composition of the community. As a result, the entire ecosystem will function differently. Understanding, perhaps even predicting, how ecological communities are influenced by climatic extremes is therefore an extremely important ecological issue.

Franken carried out the research by changing climate conditions in the field at Schiermonnikoog, in the laboratory and with computer simulations. Then he measured how the animals responded to these extreme climate conditions based on their survival and growth rate.