The past, present, and future of South East Asian varanid lizards: Using palaeobiology to inform conservation planning.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Zoology

Abstract

The varanid lizards of South East Asia are some of the world's largest reptiles, including the largest living lizard (Varanus
komodoensis) and even larger extinct relatives (V. prisca). Current populations of South East Asian varanids represent
relics of once widespread species that played important roles in ecosystems as large predators. To ensure the continued
survival of South East Asian varanids and the health of associated ecosystems, efforts need to be made to assess the
impact of their loss on ecosystems, identify species/ areas at particular high risk from human activities, and identify sites
for reintroductions, translocation, and rewilding of species across their historic ranges. In this project I aim to assess the
current and historic ranges and niches of South East Asian varanids (with a particular focus on Indonesia) using
Ecological Niche Models (ENMs). I will construct paleoENMs using a conservation palaeobiology approach. I will
construct current ENMs using existing data and fieldwork assessments. I will then combine this data with projections of
environmental change to: A) identify areas within the current ranges of South East Asia varanids that may become
unsuitable for species; and B) identify areas within the historic range of South East Asian varanids that are/ will become
suitable sites for the reintroduction/ translocation of the species.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007164/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2027
2275926 Studentship NE/S007164/1 01/10/2019 30/06/2023 Tom Julius Jameson