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Cooperative Wildlife Research Laboratory

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Dean

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Dr. Justin Boyles

Research Interests

Much of my basic research focuses on the optimal expression of body temperature (i.e. thermoregulation) and the effect those body temperatures have on organismal performance (i.e. thermal sensitivity). In this work, I use non-manipulative data collection under natural conditions, experimental manipulations, computer modeling, and comparative analytical techniques. Insectivorous bats have been the most common model organisms in my past research, but more recently my focus has shifted to small terrestrial mammals and birds. My current interest in this field is examining how adaptive thermoregulation in endotherms will interact with a changing climate to determine the persistence, range expansion, and basic ecology of birds and mammals.
A secondary research focus in my lab is on White-nose Syndrome, a disease that has killed millions of bats in the eastern United States. My students and I use experimental, theoretical, and modeling approaches in an attempt to understand the pathogenesis of White-nose Syndrome and to explain why so much variation exists in mortality rates between species, populations, and geographic regions. We are also heavily involved in estimating the economic and ecological impacts of losing the entire bat community of the eastern United States.

Research Projects

Cutaneous and Pulmonary Gas Exchange and Water Loss in White-Nose Syndrome Associated Bat Mortality

Ecosystem services provided by bats in agricultural landscapes

Thermal sensitivity of invasive house mice (Mus musculus) and house sparrows (Passer domesticus) across a geographic gradient

Coadaptation of thermoregulation and thermal sensitivity in endotherms

Behavior of hibernating bats affected by White-nose Syndrome

Natural history, genetics, and physiology of bats in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska

Courses Taught

Selected Publications

Boyles, J. G., A. B. Thompson, A. E. McKechnie, E. Malan, M. M. Humphries, and V. Careau. In Press. A global heterothermic continuum in mammals. Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Verant, M. L.*, J. G. Boyles*, W. Waldrep, Jr., G. Wibbelt, and D. S. Blehert. 2012. Temperature-dependent growth of Geomyces destructans, the fungus that causes bat white-nose syndrome. PLoS ONE. 7:e46280. *Contributed equally to this publication.

Boyles, J. G., B. Smit, C. L. Sole, and A. E. McKechnie. 2012. Body temperature patterns in two free-ranging syntopic elephant shrew species during winter. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology, Part A.161: 89-94.

Boyles, J. G., P. M. Cryan, G. F. McCracken, and T. H. Kunz. 2011. Economic importance of bats in agriculture. Science. 332: 41-42.

Lorch, J. M., A. E. Ballman, M. J. Behr, J. G. Boyles, J. T. H. Coleman, P. M. Cryan, A. C. Hicks, C. U. Meteyer, D. Redell, D. M. Reeder, and D. S. Blehert. 2011. Experimental infection of bats with Geomyces destructans causes white-nose syndrome. Nature. 480: 376-378.

Boyles, J. G., B. Smit, and A. E. McKechnie. 2011. A new comparative metric for estimating heterothermy in endotherms. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 84: 115-123.

Smit, B. J. G. Boyles, R. M. Brigham, and A. E. McKechnie. 2011. Torpor in dark times: patterns of heterothermy are associated with the lunar cycle in a nocturnal bird. Journal of Biological Rhythms. 26: 241-248.

Boyles, J. G. and C. K. R. Willis. 2010. Could localized warm areas inside cold caves reduce mortality of hibernating bats affected by white-nose syndrome? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 8: 92-98.