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Amphibian behavior in thermal gradients: experimentation and evolutionary inference

Grant number: 21/14671-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): July 20, 2023
Effective date (End): January 17, 2024
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Physiology of Recent Groups
Principal Investigator:Carlos Arturo Navas Iannini
Grantee:Carlos Arturo Navas Iannini
Host Investigator: Martha Muñoz
Host Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Yale University, United States  


The interplay between ecology and behavior is important when discussing how and why environmental change affects patterns of distribution and other elements of ecology during the Anthropocene. Physiological ecology is at the core of this interplay, with a disciplinary focus on the relationship between individuals and environment, as defined by physiology. Experimental work matters in physiological ecology, so that operationalization is necessary, as it is in any other experimental approach. In other words, practical research in experimental physiological ecology requires that abstract concepts such as 'limits for activity' or 'preferred or optimal conditions', among other, are translated into concrete variables such as 'critical temperatures', 'preferential temperatures' or 'optimal temperatures.' Thus, the link between the abstract concepts building a theoretical framework and the actual variables measured becomes paramount because it defines the limits for proper inference. This research project addresses operationalization as a relevant matter in physiological ecology to be addressed from the perspective of 'selected temperatures', a variable different from, yet associated to the concepts of 'preference' and 'thermotaxis'. The central idea is to scrutinize three operationalization domains: 1) Individual/Population; 2) Thermal heterogeneity in nature; and 3) Repeatability and stability of data. Concrete operationalization problems within these domains are transformed into eight specific research questions to be answered using specifically designed experimental approaches. Then, the main purpose of this initiative is to analyze the impact of dominant operationalization trends. We expect to foster discussion about the importance of operationalization in physiological ecology, to provide additional tools and considerations for tests in thermal gradients, and to discuss the limits of inference from experimental work to field/evolutionary problems in physiological ecology. (AU)

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