Effects of climate-mediated disturbances on habitat use and function

Climate change disturbances such as wildfire, drought, and weather whiplash events are increasing in frequency and severity. The effects of these climate-mediated disturbances on habitat function have consequences for the long-term persistence of vulnerable ecosystems (e.g., wetlands) and threatened wildlife (e.g., reptiles) that rely on these habitats. It is critical to understand how multiple stressors effect habitat function to support data-driven wildlife management and habitat restoration strategies in a changing climate.

Understanding the breadth and interconnected nature of ecohydrological feedbacks control habitat suitability (e.g., water/soil temperature, soil moisture, DO, water table dynamics) are critical for managing and restoring wildlife habitats such as wetlands and peatlands. My collaborative research integrates wetland ecohydrology, wetland spatial complexity, and reptile ecology to understand and predict effects of climate-mediated disturbances on wetlands from a reptile perspective.

An important objective includes elucidating reptile response to landscape changes such as loss of ephemeral wetlands during drought and impact of severe wildfire on habitat function.

I am also interested in characterizing the form and function of wetlands used by reptiles to survive winter, which has important implications for the health and persistence of northern populations in an era of change.  A key part of this research is understanding impacts of weather whiplash events.

I use to use an interdisciplinary approach, combining ecohydrology (e.g., continuous monitoring of water level, moisture), bio-meteorology (e.g., temperature, relative humidity, energy budget), reptile and landscape ecology (e.g., radio tracking, egg incubation), and remote sensing (e.g., LiDAR-derived metrics, spatial statistics, habitat mapping and classification) techniques/methods to study the effects of climate-mediated disturbances on habitat function (e.g., wetlands) and reptile habitat use.

Selected publications:

Markle, C.E., Sandler, N.A., Freeman, H.C.A., & J.M. Waddington. 2021. Multi-scale assessment of rock barrens turtle nesting habitat: Effects of moisture and temperature on hatch success. Ichthyology and Herpetology doi: 10.1643/h2020125.

Markle, C.E., Moore, P.A., & J.M. Waddington. 2020. Primary drivers of reptile overwintering habitat suitability: Integrating wetland ecohydrology and spatial complexity. BioScience. doi:10.1093.biosci/biaa059.

Markle, C.E., Wilkinson, S.L, & J.M. Waddington. (2020). Initial effects of wildfire on freshwater turtle nesting habitat. Journal of Wildlife Management. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.21921.

Markle, C.E., Moore, P.A., & J.M. Waddington. (2020). Temporal variability of overwintering conditions for a species-at-risk snake: Implications for climate change and habitat management. Global Ecology and Conservation. 22: e00923.

Moore, P.A., Smolarz, A.G., Markle, C.E., & J.M. Waddington. 2019. Hydrological and thermal properties of moss and lichen species on rock barrens: Implications for turtle nesting habitat. Ecohydrology 12(2):e2057. doi:10.1002/eco.2057.

Smolarz, A.G., Moore, P.A., Markle, C.E., & J.M. Waddington. (2018). Identifying resilient eastern massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus catenatus) peatland hummock hibernacula. Canadian Journal of Zoology 96 (9): 1024-1031. doi 10.1139/cjz-2017-0334. 

Markle, C.E., Rutledge, J.M., & P. Chow-Fraser. 2018. Factors affecting coastal wetland occupancy for the Eastern Musk Turtle (Sternotherus odoratus). Herpetologica 74(3):236–244. International media coverage by the Great Lakes Echo. Link: Great Lakes Echo.

Markle, C.E. & P. Chow-Fraser. 2017. Thermal characteristics of overwintering sites for the Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) across three study areas in Ontario, Canada. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 12:241–251.

Markle, C.E. & P. Chow-Fraser. 2016. An integrative approach to regional mapping of suitable habitat for the Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) on islands in Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. Global Ecology and Conservation 6(2016):219–231.

Markle, C.E. & P. Chow-Fraser. 2014. Habitat selection by the Blanding’s turtle (Emydoidea blandingii) on a protected island in Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 13(2):216–226.


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