Ana Breit: Ph.D. student researches small mammals in Borneo
Ana Breit, of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin is in Borneo this summer studying small mammals in the field.
The ecology and environmental sciences Ph.D. student is studying body temperature regulation in small tropical mammals, which are likely to be affected by climate change in the near future.
“Most animals have a range of temperatures where they don’t have to use energy to maintain a steady body temperature, and we call this the thermal neutral zone,” says Breit, who works in the lab of Danielle Levesque, assistant professor in the School of Biology and Ecology. “In the tropics, we only know the thermal neutral zone of a few animals, but having that information will help us better predict how animals will be affected by changes in their climate and whether or not they will be able to adapt to those changes.”
In Borneo, Breit is measuring the metabolic rates of squirrels, treeshrews and rats at different temperatures to determine how temperature affects their physiology.
“I am passionate about this field because I feel like I’m actually making a difference and doing something novel,” she says. “My research will be used to inform people about the physiology of these animals and what their limits are in regards to ambient temperatures at which they can survive. Other scientists will then be able to use this new information to make models of how we expect climate change to affect animals in different parts of the world.”
Outside the classroom, Breit enjoys running and playing soccer, and since coming to Maine is trying to learn how to cross-country ski.
“I love how UMaine is in a quiet town and close to so many outdoor activities,” says Breit. “I think that access to so many beautiful natural places has affected the culture of the school and brought a lot of adventurous, outdoor-loving people together to make an awesome community.”
She values travel, too, especially because it has helped her learn about different cultures, opinions and ideas, and allowed her to push her own limits. “It can really affect your worldview and change the way you see and think about so many different aspects of your life,” she says.
Contact: Cleo Barker, 207.581.3729