SCALE is a Marie-Curie funded project that investigates how organism-microclimate interactions influence broad-scale patterns of functional trait variation across climatic gradients.

The project brings together three researchers with backgrounds in ecological modeling (Juan G. Rubalcaba, postdoctoral fellow), and macroecology (Jennifer Sunday, supervisor at McGill University, Montreal) and Miguel Á. Ollala-Tárraga (supervisor at Rey Juan Carlos University, Madrid).

The biophysics of body size and climate

Body size is one of the most important variables determining how animals interact with their environment, modulating their physiology, metabolism, behaviour, and life history. Most of these traits scale with size following allometric relationships governed by physical processes such as the exchange of energy (heat) and mass (water, oxygen, or nutrients) between animals and their environment. Understanding these processes is critical to explain, for example, why many organisms are smaller in warm areas, and why different species worldwide are shrinking in size in response to climate warming.

SCALE uses biophysical models that describe how animals exchange heat and mass with their environment to predict how body size determines body temperature of lizards, water loss in amphibians, or the dynamics of oxygen demand and supply in aquatic ectotherms such as fish.