Dr Janet Gardner

Australian Research Council Future Fellow
College of Science

Areas of expertise

  • Conservation And Biodiversity 050202
  • Behavioural Ecology 060201

Research interests

I am interested in understanding species’ responses to environmental change, including climate change. I use the study of individuals as a means to address questions about evolution and underlying mechanisms of change. My current research involves investigating the effects of climate change on avian species, using a large and diverse group of Australasian passerines, the Meliphagoidea, as a model system.

Researcher's projects

Avian Biology and Climate Change

A newly documented but poorly understood correlate of anthropogenic climate change involves reductions in the body size of a diverse range of organisms. This phenomenon has been interpreted as a response to rising temperatures in the context of Bergmann’s Rule, originally proposed to explain geographical variation in body size. Changes in body size have important implications for the thermal tolerances and energetics of species because body size directly affects energy and water requirements for thermoregulation and life history traits. Thus, changing body size will have implications for individual fitness and population persistence in the face of climate change. We are currently quantifying the nature and extent of recent size responses to environmental change and investigating underlying mechanisms at a continental scale in Australian birds. We combine the use of long-term morphological data sets with ptilochronology (study of feather growth rates), ecosystem productivity and climate data to understand the factors involved in shaping size variation.

Key publications:

  • Gardner J.L., Rowley E., de Rebeira P., de Rebeira A., Brouwer L. (2017). Effects of extreme weather on two sympatric Australian passerine bird species. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 372: 20160148.
  • Gardner, J.L., Amano, T., Sutherland, W.J., Clayton, M., Peters, A. (2016). Individual and demographic consequences of reduced body condition following repeated exposure to high temperatures. Ecology, 97: 786-795
  • Gardner, J.L., Amano, T., Mackey, B.G., Sutherland, W.J., Clayton, M., Peters, A. (2014). Dynamic size responses to climate change: prevailing effects of rising temperature drive long-term body size increases in a semi-arid passerine. Global Change Biology, 20: 2062-2075
  • Gardner, J.L., Amano, T., Sutherland, W.J., Joseph, L., Peters, A. (2014). Are Natural History Collections coming to an end as time-series? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 12: 436-438
  • Gardner, J.L., Peters, A, Kearney, M.R., Joseph, L., Heinsohn, R. (2011). Declining body size: a third universal response to warming? Trends in Ecology & Evolution 26: 285-291
  • Gardner, J.L., Heinsohn, R., and Joseph, L. (2009). Shifting latitudinal clines in avian body size correlate with global warming in Australian passerines. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B 276: 3845-3852



Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

Return to top

Updated:  13 May 2021 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers