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 Lesley Alton


Current research

My research examines the interactive effects of UV-B radiation and other environmental stressors on amphibians, using the striped marsh frog Limnodyanstes peronii as a model species. The anthropogenic destruction of stratospheric ozone and the concern over increasing terrestrial UV-B levels have stimulated considerable interest in UV-B as a potential environmental stressor in amphibian habitats. Exposure to UV-B is known to reduce the survival of embryonic and larval amphibians as well as induce a variety of sublethal effects. It is also known to interact synergistically with other environmental factors, such as pH, contaminants, and disease to cause enhanced lethal effects, but less is known of how UV-B interacts with pervasive biological stressors, such as predation, and ecologically-relevant fluctuations in temperature. My research will address these knowledge gaps and assess the fitness consequences of variation in organismal performance as a result of simultaneous exposure to these stressors.


Research background

I graduated from the University of Adelaide in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science with first class honours and a major in Environmental Biology. During my Honours year I undertook a research project in the field of comparative physiology that investigated the effect of changes in aerial oxygen partial pressure and barometric pressure on bimodal respiration and air-breathing behaviour in a freshwater air-breathing fish. Following Honours, I was employed as Research Officer by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) where I was involved in a project that aimed to examine the impact of water quality, including salinity, on the recruitment dynamics of native and exotic fish species in the Murray-Darling Basin. For this project I was responsible for developing laboratory experiments to determine the salinity tolerance of larval fish in order to assess the risk of rising salinity levels to native and exotic fish populations.




 Alton, L.A., Wilson, R.S., and Franklin, C.E. (in press) Risk of predation enhances the lethal effects of UV-B in amphibians. Global Change Biology.

 Alton, L.A., White, C.R. and Seymour, R.S. (2007) Effect of aerial O2 partial pressure on bimodal gas exchange and air-breathing behaviour in Trichogaster leeri. Journal of Experimental Biology 210: 2311-2319.


Awards and Scholarships

2009    Company of Biologists Travel Grant

2009    Society of Experimental Biology Travel Award

2009    School of Biological Sciences Travel Award

2008    People’s Choice Poster Award, School of Integrative Biology Postgraduate Poster Session, The University of Queensland

2007    Australian Postgraduate Award

2004    Ecophysiology of Animals Honours Scholarship, School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Adelaide

2003    Life-time member of the University of Adelaide Chapter of the Golden Key International Honour Society