Michael W. Sears

Associate Professor

Contact Information

Phone: 864 656-0561
FAX: 864 656-0435
Email: sears3@clemson.edu


  • Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2001
  • B.S., Rohdes College, 1993

Research Interests

  • I study ecological physiology and thermal adaptation to better understand the responses of organisms to changing environments. Specifically, I seek to explain landscape-level patterns of the abundances and distributions of animals by understanding the basic physiologies and behaviors of individuals within a spatial context. I especially enjoy operating at the interface of theory and empiricism in the areas of physiological and biophysical ecology, population and community dynamics, landscape ecology, and evolutionary ecology. To that end, I use an integrative and quantitative approach to address ecological problems by combining elements not only from physiology and behavior, but also from new techniques available from Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, evolutionary programming, statistics, and computer science. Recent projects include: 1) building and testing a spatially-explicit theory of thermoregulation, 2) physiological and population responses to climate change for small vertebrate ectotherms, 3) thermally-mediated intraspecific competition in spatially-explicit environments, 4) optimal dispersal through thermally-structured habitats, 5) optimal coloration under thermoregulatory and predatory constraints, and 6) thermal dependence of chytrid fungus-frog interactions and amphibian decline.

Selected Publications

  • Bogosian V III, EC Hellgren, MW Sears, RW Moody. 2012. High resolution niche models via a correlative approach: comparing and combining correlative and process-based information. Ecological Modelling 237-238:63-73
  • Niehaus, AC, MJ Angilletta, MW Sears, CE Franklin, RS Wilson. 2012. Predicting the physiological performance of ectotherms in fluctuating thermal environments. Journal of Experimental Biology 215:694-701.
  • Sears, MW, MJ Angilletta. 2011. Responses of organisms to climate change: a synthetic approach to the role of thermal adaptation. Integrative and Comparative Biology 51:662-665.
  • Angilletta, MJ, MW Sears. 2011. Coordinating theoretical and empirical efforts to understand the linkages between organisms and environments. Integrative and Comparative Biology 51:653-661.
  • Sears, MW, E Raskin, MJ Angilletta. 2011. The world is not flat: Defining relevant thermal landscapes in the context of climate change. Integrative and Comparative Biology 5:666-675.
  • Schuler MS, JJ Storm, MW Sears, BS Cooper, BH Williams, MJ Angilletta. 2011. Isopods failed to acclimate their thermal sensitivity of locomotor performance during predictable or stochastic cooling. Public Library of Science ONE 6:e20905.
  • Buckley LB, MC Urban, MJ Angilletta, LG Crozier, LJ Rissler, MW Sears. 2010. Can mechanism inform species' distribution models? Ecology Letters 13:1041-1054.
  • Wone B, MW Sears, M Labocha, E Donovan, JP Hayes. 2009. Genetic variances and covariances of metabolic traits in Mus musculus and a genetic test of the aerobic capacity model for the evolution of endothermy, Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276:3695-3704.
  • Sears MW, JP Hayes, M Banta, D McCormick. 2009. Out in the cold: physiological capacity influences behavior in deer mice. Functional Ecology 23:774-783.
  • Angilletta MJ, MW Sears, R Pringle. 2009. The spatial dynamics of nesting behavior: lizards shift microhabitats to construct nests with beneficial thermal properties. Ecology 90:2933-2939.
  • Lips KR, J Diffendorfer, JR Mendelson, MW Sears. 2008. Riding the wave: Reconciling the roles of disease and climate change in amphibian declines. Public Library of Science Biology 6:441-454.
  • Angilletta MJ, RS Wilson, AC Niehaus, PL Ribeiro, MW Sears, CA Navas. 2007. Urban physiology: city ants possess high heat tolerance. Public Library of Science ONE 2:e258.
  • Sears MW, JP Hayes, CS O'Connor, K Geluso, JS Sedinger. 2006. Individual variation in thermogenic capacity affects above-ground activity of high altitude deer mice. Functional Ecology 20:97-104.
  • Sears MW. 2005. Geographic variation in the life history of the sagebrush lizard: the role of thermal constraints on activity. Oecologia 143:25-36.
  • Sears MW. 2005. Resting metabolic expenditure as a potential source of variation in growth rates of the sagebrush lizard. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology 140:171-177.
  • Sears MW, MJ Angilletta. 2004. Body size clines in Sceloporus lizards: proximate mechanisms and demographic constraints. Integrative and Comparative Biology 44:433-442.
  • Angilletta MJ, MW Sears, TD Steury. 2004. Temperature, growth rate, and body size in ectotherms: fitting pieces of a life history puzzle. Integrative and Comparative Biology 44:498-509.
  • Sears MW, MJ Angilletta. 2003. Life history variation in the sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus graciosus): phenotypic plasticity or local adaptation? Ecology 84:1624-1634.
  • Angilletta MJ, MW Sears. 2003. Parental care as a selective factor for the evolution of endothermy? American Naturalist 162:821-825.
  • Angilletta MJ, MW Sears. 2000. Metabolic cost of reproduction in an oviparous lizard. Functional Ecology 14:39-45.

Recent Course

  • BIOSCI 476 Comparative Physiology

Graduate Students

  • Eric Riddell
  • Savithri Nair

Professional Affiliations

  • Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology
  • Ecological Society of America