Brooke L. Bodensteiner

Biological Sciences

Brooke is a Ph.D. student with Dr. Martha Muñoz in Virginia Tech’s Department of Biological Sciences. Her dissertation research will weave techniques in physiological ecology, phylogenetics, and geospatial techniques to address pressing issues in climate change research.

Brooke obtained a Bachelors of Science at Iowa State University studying biology. As an undergraduate she enjoyed putting her curiosity for the natural world to work by developing a question, figuring out how best to address it, and following through with data to find the answer. With guidance from Dr. Fred Janzen and other lab members, she collaborated on a variety of research projects. She investigated the cues that predators use to identify and depredate painted (Chrysemys picta) and snapping (Chelydra serpentina) turtle nests. One project addressed if nest depth could compensate for sex-ratio skews caused by predicted climate change in turtles with temperature-dependent sex determination. Her multi-season independent research project investigated whether hydric conditions influenced hatchling phenotypes of neonate reptiles in a field setting.


After graduation, Brooke continued her work in the Janzen lab, obtaining her Masters of Science at Iowa State. Her work focused on leveraging long-term biological and climate data, as well as experimental approaches to address the role of maternal effects in mediating responses to climate change in an ectothermic organism with a broad geographic range. Simultaneously, Brooke had the opportunity to work with multiple collaborative groups on outside projects, investigating the possibility of embryos possessing the ability to thermoregulate within the egg and another project quantifying the impact of human habitat alteration on endangered ornate box turtles.

The way in which global change impacts organisms across their different life stages is shaped by both environmental warming and habitat modification (e.g., deforestation, urbanization). Her research will specifically focus on the interface between climate change and habitat modification and their effects on physiology, behavior, and evolution at different stages of an organism’s life span. Lizards and salamanders prove to be great systems to address these broad questions of interest as they exhibit many traits that are tightly linked to both thermal and hydric environments – two environmental axes that are dramatically shifting in response to environmental warming and habitat modification.

Through the Interfaces of Global Change Program, Brooke hopes to learn how to use interdisciplinary research to better understand how climate change will impact species’ distributions across space and time, and determine how these changes differ among lineages of organisms.

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