Urtzi Enriquez-Urzelai


About me Research Publications Contact me

About me

I am an evolutionary and physiological ecologist interested in understanding why species live where they do. As a passionate about evolution, I love studying the adaptations — either physiological, morphological, or behavioral — that allow species to occupy certain areas or habitats.

Amphibians have always looked intriguing animals to me, and unfortunately are considered highly vulnerable to climate change. During my thesis I employed experiments to measure key functional traits (e.g. critical thermal limits) and the geographic phenotypic variation across environmental gradients in a European frog (Rana temporaria). Further, I used mechanistic niche models (biophysical models) to anticipate the impacts of climate change. Nonetheless, I also developed an interest in correlative species distribution models, phylogenetic comparative methods, and many other exciting fields (see Research Interests).

I like collaborative work, and as an early researcher, I am seeking collaborators with (or without) similar interests, that think I might be able to contribute positively to their work. Do not hesitate to contact me if you are interested in collaborating with me (see Contact me).

Research interests



All species survive only within a restricted (wide or narrow) environmental range. The combination of environmental conditions that allow persistence is widely known as the ‘niche’ and sets the broader limits to species’ distributions. I combine experimental work (i.e. physiological ecology) and modelling tools (mechanistic and correlative SDMs) to disentangle the mechanisms that underlie distribution ranges and biodiversity patterns.


Niches, as the rest of species’ traits, evolve, but some taxa show highly conserved climatic niches. I am interested in understanding phenotypic dynamics in time and space (e.g. morphological, behavioral, and niche evolution at the species- and population-level). I use a variety of methods — including experiments, SDMs, and phylogenetic comparative methods — to unravel the role of climate and phenotypic evolution in creating diversity patterns, and to assess the potential for evolution to buffer species from climate change.



The methods of biophysical ecology (BE) allow us to render the world the way animals perceive it. Although they are essential to forecast the impacts of climate change, not until recently did they become more widely applied. As an exciting and vibrant field, I want to apply biophysical models to improve the robustness of predictions of the impacts of climate change. Furthermore, I want to scrutinize what BE can tell us about the “real” consequences of morphological and niche evolution.


Amphibians have always attracted my attention and have been the focus of my research. Yet, all species are unique. Further, I am mainly interested in the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms through which life founds its way. Thus, I would like to address these profound questions with amphibians and other taxa to assess the generality of mechanisms and processes.



Peer-reviewed articles

  1. U. Enriquez-Urzelai, N. Sillero, A. Kaliontzopoulou & A.G. Nicieza. Influence of biogeographic and evolutionary processes on European amphibians’ diversification. In preparation

  2. U. Enriquez-Urzelai, R. Tingley, M.R. Kearney, M. Sacco, A.S. Palacio, M. Tejedo & A.G. Nicieza. The roles of acclimation and behavior in buffering climate change along elevational gradients. Journal of Animal Ecology Accepted

  3. U. Enriquez-Urzelai, M.R. Kearney, A.G. Nicieza & R. Tingley (2019) Integrating mechanistic and correlative species distribution models to unravel range-limiting processes in a temperate amphibian. Global Change Biology 25: 2633-2647 Link

  4. U. Enriquez-Urzelai, N. Bernardo, G. Moreno-Rueda, A. Montori & G. Llorente (2019) Are amphibians tracking their climatic niches in response to climate warming? A test with Iberian amphibians. Climatic Change 154: 289-301 Link

  5. U. Enriquez-Urzelai, M. Sacco, A.S. Palacio, P. Pintanel, M. Tejedo & A.G. Nicieza (2019) Ontogenetic reduction in thermal tolerance is not alleviated by earlier developmental acclimation in Rana temporaria. Oecologia 189: 385-394 Link Data

  6. U. Enriquez-Urzelai, A.S. Palacio, N.M. Merino, M. Sacco & A.G. Nicieza (2018) Hindered and constrained: limited potential for thermal adaptation in post-metamorphic and adult Rana temporaria along altitudinal gradients. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 31: 1852-1862 Link Data

  7. U. Enriquez-Urzelai, A. Montori, G.A. Llorente, A. Kaliontzopoulou (2015) Locomotor mode and the evolution of the hindlimb in Western Mediterranean anurans. Evolutionary Biology 42: 199-209 Link Data

  8. U. Enriquez-Urzelai, O. San Sebastián, N. Garriga, G.A. Llorente (2013) Food availability determines the response to pond desiccation in anuran tadpoles. Oecologia 173: 117-127 Link

Non peer-reviewed articles

  1. U. Enriquez-Urzelai, A. Montori, G.A. Llorente (2013) Aridification, phenotypic plasticity and the fate of Mediterranean amphibians. FrogLog 21 (3): 27-29 Link


U. Enriquez-Urzelai (2018) Integrating ecophysiology, complex life histories, and niche models to forecast the impacts of climate change: a mechanistic assessment of the vulnerability of European common frogs (Rana temporaria). PhD Thesis. Universidad de Oviedo, Oviedo. Supervisor: Alfredo G. Nicieza Link

Master Thesis

U. Enriquez-Urzelai (2011) Effects of food availability and pool desiccation in the fitness of Discoglossus pictus (Otth, 1837). Master Thesis. Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona. Supervisor: Gustavo A. Llorente Link