Prof. Steven L. Chown

Phone:  +61  3 9905 5650 


ResearchGate Profile


Currently I am a member of the School of Biological Sciences, Monash University, Australia. Previously I was Head of the School of Biological Sciences (2013-2017) and prior to that the inaugural Director of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology (2004-2012) and Professor of Zoology at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. And prior to that I worked at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

I’m interested in a range of research questions – from the functioning of insect physiological systems to the functioning of sub-Antarctic ecosystems, and on to the conservation of diversity in the face of environmental change.

My interests are particularly in how physiological characteristics, or traits, vary through space and time, and what the ecological and conservation implications are of this variation. They also extend to how the outcomes of conservation science can reduce the rates and impacts of the major global environmental change drivers.

The strength of my research approach lies in being able to weave together insights from a range of fields across the biological hierarchy. If you read some of my ‘Selected Publications’ you’ll see what I mean. Another strength of my work is that it has had considerable impact in a range of ways, from improvements in scientific understanding to those in conservation efficacy, which you can see via the ‘Impacts’ page.

My research is both global (macroecology and macrophysiology) and more local, with the latter focussing on the Antarctic, especially the sub-Antarctic islands, and on systems in Australia and Africa. I’ve spent more than 25 years working in the Antarctic, and so I’ve come to enjoy the region and, by force of travel mode, being at sea.

I’ve published a range of peer-reviewed scientific papers and several scientific and popular books, the popular books all concerning the Antarctic region. I’ve been the Editor-in-Chief of Functional Ecology, and have been on the editorial boards of The American Naturalist, Diversity and Distributions, and the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. Currently I’m on the editorial boards of Antarctic Science, Biological Reviews, Current Opinion in Insect Science and Polar Biology.

If you want to know more about what I do, or to join the ChownLab, either as a student or volunteer, feel free to email me.

Selected Publications

Chown, S.L., Clarke, A., Fraser, C.I., Cary, S.C., Moon, K.L. & McGeoch, M.A. 2015. The changing form of Antarctic biodiversity. Nature 522, 431-438. doi:10.1038/nature14505

Fraser, C.I., Terauds, A., Smellie, J., Convey, P. & Chown, S.L. 2014. Geothermal activity helps life survive glacial cycles. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A.  111, 5634-5639. doi:10.1073/pnas.1321437111

Araújo, M.B., Ferri-Yáñez, F., Bozinovic, F., Marquet, P.A., Valladares, F. & Chown, S.L. 2013. Heat freezes niche evolution. Ecology Letters 16, 1206-1219.

Chown, S.L. 2012. Trait-based approaches to conservation physiology: forecasting environmental change risks from the bottom up. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 367, 1615-1627.

Chown, S.L., Huiskes, A.H.L., Gremmen, N.J.M., Lee, et al. 2012. Continent-wide risk assessment for the establishment of nonindigenous species in Antarctica. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. 109, 4938-4943.

Chown, S.L., Lee, J.E., Hughes, K.A., et al. 2012. Challenges to the future conservation of the Antarctic. Science 337, 158-159.

Lyons, C.L., Coetzee, M., Terblanche, J.S. & Chown, S.L. 2012. Thermal limits of wild and laboratory strains of two African malaria vector species, Anopheles arabiensis and Anopheles funestus. Malaria Journal 11:226.

Clusella-Trullas, S., Blackburn, T.M. & Chown, S.L. 2011. Climatic predictors of temperature performance curve parameters in ectotherms imply complex responses to climate change. American Naturalist 177, 738-751.

Chown, S.L. 2010. Temporal biodiversity change in transformed landscapes: a southern African perspective. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 365, 3729-3742.

Chown, S.L. & Gaston, K.J. 2010. Body size variation in insects: a macroecological perspective. Biological Reviews 85, 139-169.

Chown, S.L. & Gaston, K.J. 2008. Macrophysiology for a changing world. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 275, 1469-1478.

Makarieva, A.M., Gorshkov, V.G., Li, B-L., Chown, S.L., Reich, P.B. & Gavrilov, V.M. 2008. Mean mass-specific metabolic rates are strikingly similar across life’s major domains: evidence for life’s metabolic optimum. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. 105, 16994-16999.

White, C.R., Blackburn, T.M., Terblanche, J.S., Marais, E., Gibernau, M. & Chown, S.L. 2007. Evolutionary responses of discontinuous gas exchange in insects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. 104, 8357-8361.

Chown, S.L., van Rensburg, B.J., Gaston, K.J., Rodrigues, A.S.L. & van Jaarsveld, A.S. 2003. Energy, species richness, and human population size: conservation implications at a national scale. Ecological Applications 13, 1233-1241.

Van Jaarsveld, A.S., Freitag, S., Chown, S.L., Muller, C., Koch, S., Hull, H., Bellamy, C., Krüger, M., Endrödy-Younga, S., Mansell, M.W. & Scholtz, C.H. 1998. Biodiversity assessment and conservation strategies. Science 279, 2106-2108.