Faculty Profiles

Michael J. Angilletta Jr.

Associate Professor

Ph.D., The University of Pennsylvania

Phone: 812-237-4520
E-mail: Michael.Angilletta@indstate.edu
Office: Science Building 273

Web Site

Research Interests: thermal adaptation; evolutionary physiology; physiological ecology.

 More than 99% of all organisms are ectothermic, and consequently their physiological functions are profoundly influenced by temperature. I seek to understand how the behaviors, physiologies, and life histories of ectotherms adapt to changing environments. Such an understanding is critical for predicting how global climate will alter the phenotypes and distributions of organisms. Although biologists have expended great effort to understand the ecological consequences of climate change, the evolutionary consequences remain less clear. Yet, evolutionary responses will determine the ecological interactions within future ecosystems. A theory of thermal adaptation could offer major advantages to both basic and applied biologists.

Currently, my lab is focused on several questions:

1) How do environmental conditions influence strategies of thermoregulation?

2) How do body temperatures affect the evolution of thermal physiology?

3) How does thermal physiology affect the evolution of the life history?

To answer these questions, we are engaged in mathematical modeling of evolutionary processes, spatial analyses of thermal heterogeneity, field studies of thermoregulatory behavior, lab studies of thermal physiology, and comparative analyses of life histories. We have worked with a diverse set of organisms, including vertebrates and invertebrates. For more information about this research, visit my lab’s website at www.ThermalAdaptation.com.

Much of this work is focused on lizards of the genus Sceloporus. These lizards are distributed widely throughout the United States, and their morphology, physiology and life history vary considerably within species. We have used comparative and experimental approaches to understand how environmental temperature causes variation in the life history (e.g., growth rate, age and size at maturity, offspring size and number). Current work incorporates molecular information on evolutionary relationships among populations to infer the patterns of life-history evolution within Sceloporus undulatus. A phylogenetic approach to intraspecific studies of life-history variation has enabled us to identify convergent evolution along latitudinal gradients. Lizards from cold, northern environments grow and develop faster as embryos, attain larger adult sizes, and produce larger eggs than do lizards in warm, southern environments. We aim to develop a theory that describes the cause of this convergent evolution.

Selected Publications

Angilletta, M. J., B. S. Cooper, M. S. Schuler, and J. G. Boyles. 2010. The evolution of thermal physiology in endotherms. Frontiers in Bioscience 14: in press. 

Angilletta, M. J. 2009. Thermal Adaptation: A Theoretical and Empirical Synthesis. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Angilletta, M. J., R. M. Pringle, and M. W. Sears. 2009. The spatial dynamics of nesting behavior: lizards shift microhabitats to construct nests with beneficial temperatures. Ecology (in press).

Mitchell, W. A. and M. J. Angilletta. 2009. Thermal games: frequency-dependent models of thermal adaptation. Functional Ecology (in press).

Angilletta, M. J., A. Steel, K. Bartz, J. G. Kingsolver, M. Scheuerell, B. Beckman, and L. Crozier. 2008. Big dams and salmon evolution: changes in thermal regimes and their potential evolutionary consequences. Evolutionary Applications 1: 286-299.

Niewiarowski, P. H. and M. J. Angilletta. 2008. Countergradient variation in embryonic growth and development: do embryonic and juvenile performances trade off? Functional Ecology 22: 895-901.

Wilson, R. S., M. J. Angilletta, R. S. James, C. A. Navas, and F. Seebacher. 2007. Dishonest signals of strength in male slender crayfish (Cherax dispar) during agonistic encounters. The American Naturalist 170: 284-291.

Angilletta, M. J., R. S. Wilson, A. C. Niehaus, M. W. Sears, C. A. Navas, and P. L. Ribeiro. 2007. Urban physiology: city ants possess high heat tolerance. PLoS ONE 2: e258.

Angilletta, M. J., C. E. Oufiero, and A. D. Leaché. 2006. Direct and indirect effects of environmental temperature on the evolution of reproductive strategies: an information-theoretic approach. The American Naturalist 168: E123-E135.

Oufiero, C. E. and M. J. Angilletta. 2006. Convergent evolution of embryonic growth and development in the eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus). Evolution 60: 1066-1075.

Angilletta, M. J., A. F. Bennett, H. Guderley, C. A. Navas, F. Seebacher, and R. S. Wilson. 2006. Coadaptation: a unifying principle in evolutionary thermal biology. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 79: 282-294.

McLean, M. A., M. J. Angilletta, and K. Williams. 2005. If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the city: thermal reactions norms of chitinolytic fungi in an urban heat island. Journal of Thermal Biology 30: 384-391.

Angilletta, M. J., P. H. Niewiarowski, A. E. Dunham, A. D. Leaché, and W. P. Porter. 2004. Bergmann's clines in ectotherms: illustrating a life-history perspective in sceloporine lizards. The American Naturalist 164: E168-E183.

Angilletta, M. J., T. D. Steury, and M. W. Sears. 2004. Temperature, growth rate, and body size in ectotherms: fitting pieces of a life-history puzzle. Integrative and Comparative Biology 44: 498-509.

Angilletta, M. J. and A. E. Dunham. 2003. The temperature-size rule in ectotherms: simple evolutionary explanations may not be general. The American Naturalist 162: 332-342.

Angilletta, M. J., R. S. Wilson, C. A. Navas, and R. S. James. 2003. Tradeoffs and the evolution of thermal reaction norms. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18: 234-240.

Angilletta, M. J., P. H. Niewiarowski, and C. A. Navas. 2002. The evolution of thermal physiology in ectotherms. Journal of Thermal Biology 27: 249-268.