The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

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Nicki Mitchell

Dr Nicola Mitchell

Senior Lecturer
Biological Sciences, School of

Contact details
School of Biological Sciences
The University of Western Australia (M092)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 4510
+61 8 6488 1029

Senior Lecturer
Oceans Institute and Graduate School

Contact details
Oceans Institute and Graduate School
The University of Western Australia (M092)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 4510
+61 8 6488 1029
BSc Tas., PhD Adel.
I grew up in Hobart, completing my undergraduate studies at the University of Tasmania in 1996, and a PhD in ecophysiology at The University of Adelaide in 2001. For the next couple of years I was a research fellow at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand) funded by The Royal Society, and afterwards spent periods at Colorado State University, the Australian National University and La Trobe University before moving to the University of Western Australia (UWA) in 2005 on an ARC postdoctoral fellowship. I started work at UWA as a teaching and research academic in 2009.

A consistent theme in my research is to determine the impact of the thermal environment on sex determination and survival in reptiles, and studying the reproductive biology of unusual frog species, from their egg physiology to sexual selection. My more recent research is more applied - aiming to understand the capacity of vertebrates to adapt to rapid climate change, and using models to inform preemptive management, such as assisted migration (see I now describe myself as a conservation physiologist.

Current lab members (below) work on sea turtles, freshwater turtles, crocodiles, skinks, small brown (but very interesting) frogs, the spectacular birds and amphibians of Malaysian cloud forests, and even furry things:

PhD students: Sophie Arnall, Blair Bentley, Tabitha Rudin-Bitterli, Malcolm Soh, Jessica Stubbs, Emily Hoffman, Jon-Paul Emery

Hons/MSc: Alexandra Bouma, Deanne Cummins, Hamish Burnett

Postdocs: Daniel White, Ruchira Somaweera

NOTE - I cannot supervise any additional research projects at the moment, but there may be spaces opening up in the lab from 2018.
Key research
Predicting the impact of climate change on the adaptive capacity of frogs and reptiles
Thermal thresholds in embryonic sea turtles
Reproductive biology of terrestrial breeding frogs
Direct fitness benefits arising from mate choice
Physiological constraints that affect sexually selected signals
2010 onwards; for all publications see

Pecl GT., and 41 co-authors including Mitchell, N. 2017. Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: impacts on ecosystems and human well-being. Science 355(6332), eaai9214.

Vertucci S, Pepper M, Edwards DL, Roberts JD, Mitchell N and Keogh JS. 2017. Evolutionary and natural history of the turtle frog, Myobatrachus gouldii, a bizarre myobatrachid frog in the southwestern Australian biodiversity hotspot. PloS one 12, e0173348.

Groom C, White NE, Mitchell N, Roberts DJ, Mawson P. 2016. Assessing the spatial ecology and resource use of a mobile and endangered species in an urbanized landscape using satellite telemetry and DNA faecal metabarcoding. Ibis (online early)

Mitchell NJ, Rodriguez N, Kuchling G, Arnall SG, Kearney MR. 2016. Reptile embryos and climate change: Modelling limits of viability to inform translocation decisions. Biological Conservation 204, 134-147.

Van Lohuizen S, Rossendell J, Mitchell NJ, Thums M. 2016. The effect of incubation temperatures on nest success of flatback sea turtles (Natator depressus). Marine Biology 163, 1-12.

Tedeschi, J., Kennington, W., Tomkins, J., Berry, O., Whiting, S., Meekan, M. and Mitchell, N. 2016. Heritable variation in heat shock gene expression: a potential mechanism for adaptation to thermal stress in embryos of sea turtles. Proceedings of the Royal Society London; Series B 283, 20152320.

Carter, A., Kearney, M., Mitchell, N., Hartley, S., Porter, W. and Nelson, N. 2015. Modelling the soil microclimate: does the spatial or temporal resolution of input parameters matter? Frontiers of Biogeography 7.

Edwards, E., Mitchell, N. J. and Ridley, A. R. 2015. The impact of high temperatures on foraging behaviour and body condition in the Western Australian Magpie (Cracticus tibicen dorsalis). Ostrich 86, 137-144.

Seddon, P. J., Moro, D., Mitchell, N. J., Chauvenet, A. L. M. and Mawson, P. R. 2015. Proactive conservation or planned invasion? Past, current and future use of assisted colonisation. In Advances in Reintroduction Biology for Australian and New Zealand Fauna, (ed. D. P. Armstrong): CSIRO Publishing

Arnall, S., Kuchling, G., and Mitchell N.J. 2015. A thermal profile of metabolic performance in the rare Australian chelid, Pseudemydura umbrina. Australian Journal of Zoology; 62, 448-453

Tedeschi, J., Mitchell, N.J., Meekan, M, Berry, O, Whiting, S.D., Kennington, W.J. 2015. Reconstructed paternal genotypes reveal variable rates of multiple paternity at three rookeries of loggerhead sea turtles Caretta caretta in Western Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology; 62, 454-462

Tedeschi, J. N., Kennington, W. J., Berry, O., Whiting, S., Meekan, M. and Mitchell, N. J. 2015. Increased expression of Hsp70 and Hsp90 mRNA as biomarkers of thermal stress in loggerhead turtle embryos (Caretta Caretta). Journal of Thermal Biology 47, 42-50.

Stubbs, J., Kearney, M.J, Whiting, S. D., & Mitchell, N.J. 2014. Models of primary sex ratios at a major flatback turtle rookery show an anomalous masculinizing trend. Climate Change Responses 1 (3); 1-18

Groom, C. G., Mawson, P. R., Roberts, J. D. and Mitchell, N. J. 2014. Meeting an expanding human population’s needs whilst conserving a threatened parrot species in an urban environment. WIT Transactions on Ecology and the Environment 191, 1199-1212.

Grayson KL, Mitchell NJ & Nelson NJ. 2014. A hot threat to New Zealand’s tuatara. American Scientist 102: 350-7

Dade, M., Pauli, N., & Mitchell, N.J. 2014. Mapping a new future: using spatial multiple criteria analysis to identify novel habitats for endangered species. Animal Conservation doi: 10.1111/acv.12150

Grayson KL, Mitchell NJ, Monks JM, Keall SN, Wilson JN, Nelson NJ. 2014. Sex Ratio Bias and Extinction Risk in an Isolated Population of Tuatara Sphenodon punctatus. PloS one 9:e94214

Keith, D.A., Mahony, M., Hines, H., Elith, J., Regan, T.J., Baumgartner, J., Hunter, D., Heard, G., Mitchell, N., Penman, T., Parris, K., Reid, C., Scheele, B., Simpson, C.C., Tingly, R., West, M., Akcakaya, H.R. 2014. Detecting extinction risk from climate change by IUCN Red List criteria. Conservation Biology 28: 810-819.

Woolgar L., S. Trocini and N. Mitchell. 2013. Key parameters describing temperature-dependent sex determination in the southernmost population of Loggerhead sea turtles. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 449:77-84

Rout, T.M., Mcdonald-Madden, E., Martin, T.G., Mitchell, N.J., Possingham, H.P. and Armstrong, D.P. 2013. How to decide whether to move species threatened by climate change. PLoS one 8: e75814

Harris, S., Arnall, S., Byrne, M., Coates, D., Hayward, M., Martin, T., Mitchell, N. & Garnett, S. 2013. Whose backyard? Some precautions in choosing recipient sites for assisted colonisation of Australian plants and animals. Ecological Management & Restoration, 14: 106-111.

Mitchell, N., Hipsey, M., Arnall, S., McGrath, G., bin Tareque, H., Kuchling, G., Vogwill, R., Sivapalan, M., Porter, W., and Kearney, M. 2013 Linking eco-energetics and eco-hydrology to select sites for the assisted colonization of Australia’s rarest reptile. Biology 2: 1-25.

Lunt, I.D., Byrne, M., Hellmann, J.J., Mitchell, N.J., Garnett, S.T., Hayward, M.W., Martin, T.G., McDonald-Madden, E., Williams, S., Zander, K.K. 2013. Using assisted colonisation to conserve biodiversity and restore ecosystem function under climate change. Biological Conservation 157: 172-177.

Mitchell, N., Sommer, B. and Speldewinde, P. 2013. Adapting to climate change: a risk assessment and decision framework for managing groundwater dependent ecosystems with declining water levels. Supporting document 3: Identifying thresholds for responses of amphibians to groundwater and rainfall decline. National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast.

Chambers J, Nugent G, Sommer B, Speldewinde P, Neville S, Beatty S, Chilcott S, Eberhard S, Mitchell N, D’Souza F, Barron O, McFarlane D, Braimbridge M, Robson B, Close P, Morgan D, Pinder A, Froend R, Horwitz P, Cook B and Davies P. 2013. Adapting to climate change: A risk assessment and decision making framework for managing groundwater dependent ecosystems with declining water levels. Guidelines for use, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, 59 pp.

Chambers, J., Nugent, G., Sommer, B, Speldewinde, P, Neville, S., Beatty, S., Chilcott, S., Eberhard, S., Mitchell, N., D’Souza, F., Barron, O., McFarlane, D., Braimbridge, M, Robson, B, Close, P, Morgan, D, Pinder, A., Froend, R., Horwitz, P., Cook, B. and Davies, P. 2013. Adapting to climate change: a risk assessment and decision making framework for managing groundwater dependent ecosystems with declining water levels. Development and case studies, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast.

Miller, K. A., H. C. Miller, J. A. Moore, N. J. Mitchell, A. Cree, F. W. Allendorf, S. D. Sarre, S. N. Keall, and N. J. Nelson. 2012. Securing the demographic and genetic future of tuatara through assisted colonization. Conservation Biology 26:790-798.

Eads, A., N. J. Mitchell, and J. Evans. 2012. Patterns of genetic variation in desiccation tolerance in embryos of the terrestrial-breeding frog, Pseudophryne guentheri. Evolution 66: 2865-2877

N. J. Mitchell, Jones, T. and G. Kuchling. 2012. Simulated climate change increases juvenile growth in a critically endangered tortoise. Endangered Species Research 17: 73-82.

Burbidge, A. H., M. Byrne, D. Coates, S. T. Garnett, S. Harris, M. W. Haywards, T. G. Martin, E. McDonald-Madden, N. J. Mitchell, S. Nally, and S. Setterfield. 2011. Is Australia ready for assisted colonisation? Policy changes required to facilitate translocation under climate change. Pacific Conservation Biology 17: 259-269.

Weeks, A. R., C. M. Sgro, A. G. Young, R. Frankham, N. J. Mitchell, K. A. Miller, M. Byrne, D. J. Coates, M. B. D. Eldridge, P. Sunnocks, M. F. Breed, E. A. James, and A. A. Hoffmann. 2011. Assessing the benefits and risks of translocations in changing environments: a genetic perspective. Evolutionary Applications 4 (709-725).

Andrewartha, S.J., N.J. Mitchell and P.B. Frappell. 2010. Do fluctuating incubation temperatures influence hatchling phenotypes in reptiles? A test using parthenogenetic geckos. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 83: 597-607.

Nokhbatolfoghahai, M., N.J. Mitchell and J.R. Downie. 2010. Surface ciliation and tail structure in direct-developing frog embryos: a comparison between Myobatrachus gouldii and Pristimantis (= Eleutherodactylus) urichi". Herpetological Journal 10: 59-68.

Mitchell, N. J. and Janzen, F. J. 2010. Temperature-dependent sex determination and contemporary climate change. Sexual Development 4: 129-140.
Roles, responsibilities and expertise
Climate change adaptation
Assisted migration/colonisation
Temperature-dependent sex determination
Reproductive biology
Nest site selection
Funding received
2016-19 ARC Linkage (with U Queensland, U Melbourne, The Nature Conservancy, Parks Australia, WA DPaW)
2015-2120 Threatened Species Recovery Hub (NESP)
2015 UQ-UWA Research Collaboration Award
2012-15 Western Australian Marine Science Association (with WA DPaW and CSIRO)
2011-12 National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility
2010 Australian Academy of Sciences
2009-12 ARC Linkage (with DPaW and Perth Zoo)
2008 FNAS start-up grant for research initiatives
2008 Australian Geographic Society
2007 UWA Small Grant
2005-8 ARC Discovery (APD Fellowship)
2002 Journal of Experimental Biology Travelling Fellowship
2000-1 Royal Society (London) Banks Alecto Fellowship
Previous positions
2005-9 ARC Postdoctoral Fellow (University of Western Australia)
2003 La Trobe University Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
2003 Visiting Research Fellow, Australian National University
2002 Visiting Research Fellow, Colorado State University
2000 Visiting Research Fellow, Victoria University of Wellington
I co-coordinate BIOL1131 Plant and Animal Biology with Tim Langlois, and BIOL2261 Conservation Biology with Pieter Poot. I also teach into the following units:

ENVT2221 Global Climate Change and Biodiversity
ANIM3353 Wildlife Conservation and Management
ANIM5501 Vertebrate Development
ENVT5513 Decision Strategies for Biodiversity Conservation

Current external positions
Member, Threatened Species Scientific Committee (Commonwealth)
Vice President, Australian Society of Herpetologists
Member, Threatened Species Scientific Committee (Western Australia)
New and noteworthy
Research profile
Research profile and publications

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM