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Contact Information

P: 864-656-2328

Campus Location

132 Long Hall, Clemson, SC 29634


Monday - Friday:
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.


Profile Photo

Mike Sears

Biological Sciences

Associate Professor

Jordan Hall 306 [Lab]
Long Hall 323 [Office]

Educational Background

PhD, Biology, University of Pennsylvania, 2001
BS, Biology, Rhodes College, 1993

Profile/About Me

My lab works at the interface of theory and empiricism to solve problems in ecology and evolution, particularly with regard to thermal biology and climate change.

Research Interests

My research focuses on the effects of environmental heterogeneity through both time and space on the physiology, behavior, and ecology of individuals. Specifically, I am interested in understanding whether and how animals (typically reptiles and amphibians) might respond to ongoing climatic change. Toward that end, I use an integrative approach that both develops and tests theory. Approaches in my lab use tools not only from physiological and behavioral ecology, but also from Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing, evolutionary programming and individual based modeling, statistics, and (recently) ecological genomics. Currently, my research interests are very broadly divided among several fronts:

1. Developing and testing a theory of landscape physiology and behavior

2. Integrating small scale environmental heterogeneity to large scale ecological processes

3. Understanding the evolution of geographic variation in physiological traits

4. Responses of species to climatic change

Research Group (Lab)

Matthew McTernan
Robert Chamberlin
Tim Cronin
Trent Gilmore

Courses Taught

Quantitative Biology
Integrative Organismal Biology
Computational Methods for Ecology
Scientific Writing

Selected Publications

Newman JC, EA Riddell, LA Williams, MW Sears, K Barrett.2022. Integrating physiology into correlative models can alter projections of habitat suitability under climate change for a threatened amphibian. Ecography

Gunderson AR, EA Riddell, MW Sears, and EB Rosenblum. 2022. Thermal costs and benefits of replicated color evolution in the White Sands Desert lizard community. American Naturalist, in press.

McTernan MR, MW Sears. 2022. Repeatability of voluntary thermal maximum and covariance with water loss reveal potential for adaptation to changing climates. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 95, in press.

Westfall AK, RS Telemeco, MB Grizante, DS Waits, AD Clark, DY. Simpson, RL Klabacka, AP Sullivan, GH Perry, JR Oaks, MW Sears, CL Cox, RM Cox, ME Gifford, HB John-Alder, T Langkilde, MJ Angilletta Jr., AD Leaché, MA Tollis, K Kusumi, and TS Schwartz. 2021. A chromosome-level genome assembly for the eastern fence lizard (Sceloporus undulatus), a reptile model for physiological and evolutionary ecology. GigaScience 10: 1-17.

Riddell EA**, MW Sears. 2020. Terrestrial salamanders maintain habitat suitability under climate change despite trade-offs between water loss and gas exchange. Invited paper for Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 93: 310-319.

Sears MW, EA Riddell, T Rusch, MJ Angilletta. 2019. The world still isn’t flat: Lessons learned from organismal interactions with environmental heterogeneity in terrestrial environments. Integrative and Comparative Biology 59:1049–1058. (Editor's Choice)

Angilletta MJ, MW Sears, J Youngblood**, J VandenBrooks. 2019. Fundamental flaws with the fundamental niche. Integrative and Comparative Biology 59: 1038–1048. (Editor's Choice)

Riddell EA, E Robach, C Wells, K Zamudio, and MW Sears. 2019. Thermal cues drive plasticity of desiccation resistance in montane salamanders with implications for climate change. Nature Communications, Nature Communications 10:1-12..

Frye BM, LG Rapaport, T Melber, MW Sears, SD Tardif. 2019. Sibling sex, but not androgens, shapes phenotypes in perinatal common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus). Scientific Reports 9: 1100,

Rusch T, M Sears, M Angilletta. 2019. Lizards perceived abiotic and biotic stresses independently when competing for shade in terrestrial mesocosms. Hormones and Behavior 106:44-51. doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2018.09.002

Riddell EA, J Damm, J Odum*, MW Sears. 2018. Plasticity reveals hidden resistance to extinction under climate change in the global hotspot of salamander diversity. Science Advances 4: eaar5741.

Riddell EA, J McPhail*, J Damm*, M Sears. 2018. Trade-offs between water loss and gas exchange influence habitat suitability of a woodland salamander. Functional Ecology, DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.13030

Carlo MA, EA Riddell, O Levy, MW Sears. 2018. Recurrent sublethal warming reduces embryo survival, inhibits juvenile growth, and alters species distribution projections under climate change. Ecology Letters, DOI:10.1111/ele.12877

Riddell EA, MW Sears. 2017. Physical calculations of resistance to water loss improve species range models: Reply. Ecology, DOI:10.1002/ecy.2022

Riddell EA, E Apanovitch, J Odum, MW Sears. 2017. Physical calculations of resistance to water loss improve predictions of species range models. Ecological Monographs 87:21-33.

Sears, MW, MJ Angilletta, MS Schuler, J Borchert, KF Dilliplane, M Stegman, T Rusch, and WA Mitchell. 2016. Configuration of the thermal landscape determines thermoregulatory performance of ectotherms. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1604824113.

Pincebourde S, CC Murdock , M Vickers, MW Sears. 2016. Fine-scale microclimatic variation can shape the responses of organisms to global change in both natural and urban environments. Integrative and Comparative Biology 56:45–61

Riddell EA, MW Sears. 2015. Geographic variation of resistance to water loss within two species of lungless salamanders: implications for activity. Ecosphere 6: art86.

Wone BWM, P Madsen, ER Donovan, MK Labocha, MW Sears, CJ Downs, D Sorensen, JP Hayes. 2015. A strong response to selection on mass-independent maximal metabolic rate without a correlated response in basal metabolic rate. Heredity 114: 419-427

Sears MW, MJ Angilletta. 2015. Costs and benefits of thermoregulation revisited: both the heterogeneity and spatial structure of temperature drive energetic costs. American Naturalist 185: E94-E102. Recommended by Faculty of 1000.

Caruso NM, MW Sears, DC Adams, KL Lips (2014) Widespread reductions in body size of salamanders in response to climate change. Global Change Biology 20:1751-1759.

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, 237-338:63-73.

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. Recommended by Faculty of 1000.

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) Grand Challenges: 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 51: 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.

Schuler MS, MJ Angilletta, MW Sears (2011) Food availability does not affect the preferred body temperature of Yarrow’s spiny lizard. Journal of Thermal Biology 36:112-115.

Buckley L, M Urban, M Angilletta, L Crozier, L Rissler, M Sears (2010) Can mechanism inform species’ distribution models? Ecology Letters 13: 1041-1054. Recommended by Faculty of 1000. Cited in IPCC WGII AR5 Chapter 4.

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.

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 of London B 276: 3695-3704. Highly Saved. Highly Cited.

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. Highly Saved. Highly Cited.

Sears MW, J Diffendorfer, KL Lips, JR Mendelson III (2008) Amphibian declines and issues of inference: response to Parmesan and Singer. Public Library of Science Biology 14 April 2008.

Lips KR, J Diffendorfer, JR Mendelson III, MW Sears (2008) Riding the wave: Climate change, disease, and amphibian declines. Public Library of Science Biology 6: 441-454. Cited in IPCC WGII AR5 Chapter 4.

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.

Tull JC, MW Sears (2007) Moist seeds increase rodent trap success. Western North American Naturalist 67: 520-523.

Sears MW, JP Hayes, CS O'Connor, K Geluso, J 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.

Angilletta MJ, MW Sears (2004) The evolution of thermal reaction norms for growth rate and body size in ectotherms: an introduction to the symposium. Integrative and Comparative Biology 44: 401-402.

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.

Angilletta MJ, CE Oufiero, MW Sears (2004) Thermal adaptation of maternal and embryonic phenotypes in a geographically widespread ectotherm. Proceedings of the Third International Conference of Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry, International Congress Series 1275: 258-266.

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) Is parental care the key to understanding endothermy in birds and mammals? American Naturalist 162: 821-825.

Angilletta MJ, MW Sears, RS Winters (2001) Seasonal variation in reproductive effort and its consequences for offspring size in the lizard Sceloporus undulatus. Herpetologica 57: 365-75.

Angilletta MJ, MW Sears (2000) The metabolic cost of reproduction in an oviparous lizard. Functional Ecology 14:39-45.

Kesler DH, T Moore*, M Sears*, J Scherer*, R Pardiek*, R Reardon* (1994) Two larval odonate communities of the Edward J. Meeman Biological Station in western Tennessee. Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Sciences 69: 59-62.

Contact Information

P: 864-656-2328

Campus Location

132 Long Hall, Clemson, SC 29634


Monday - Friday:
8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.