Profile of John Benjamin Owens
- John Benjamin Owens
- PhD Student
- School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW
Having always been fascinated by the world of herpetology, I first obtained my Master of Zoology degree in Bangor University in 2016. Working under the supervision of Dr Wolfgang Wüster, I investigated the hybrid zone between Crotalus scutulatus and Crotalus viridis, studying the presence of toxin genes on both sides and within the hybrid zone.
Following the completion of my undergraduate degree, I travelled throughout south Asia learning about the devastating effects of snakebite on the poorest communities. During this time I formed Captive & Field Herpetology, a peer-reviewed journal and research focussed expedition team which now carries out snakebite related work in India and various other expeditions across Europe. I am also part of Dr Anita Malhotra’s BITES group which has carried out extensive snakebite focussed work in India.
My interest in venomous snakes and snakebite, from an ecological perspective, ultimately led me to pursue a PhD at Bangor with Drs Wolfgang Wüster and Anita Malhotra. I’m currently studying the physiology, habitat preferences and spatial ecology of two small vipers; Echis carinatus and Cerastes gasperetii in the UAE and how climate change may affect them in the future.
My PhD project is attempting to understand how climate change may affect the current distribution, habitat choices and physiology of two small vipers in the UAE; Echis carinatus and Cerastes gasperetii. It’s common knowledge that many animals will struggle to survive a rapidly changing climate, but, many future models fail to acknowledge the ability of a species to adapt to change, be it behavioural or physiological.
My investigation will take place on and around the grounds of The Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, Sharjah, UAE. This location provides us with a comparison of two drastically different habitats; a dry, extremely hot desert and the greener grounds of the facility. Using ex-situ experiments along with radio-telemetry, I aim to determine how tolerant these two species are and the possible strategies they may adopt to survive climate change.
Alongside my PhD I am also involved with snakebite related work in India. Primarily in the Himalayan regions where I am interested to learn about the diversity of venomous snakes which are involved in human-snake conflict.
- Togridou, A., Graham, S., Santra, V., Owens, J. B., Bharti, O., Malhotra, A. (2020) Prevention is Better than Cure. Episthmes Agogis.
- Santra, V., Owens, J.B., Graham, S., Wuster, W., Kuttalam, S., Bharti, O., Selvan, M., Mukherjee, N., Malhotra, A. (2019) Confirmation of Naja oxiana in Himachal Pradesh, India. The Herpetological Bulletin, 150, 26–28.
- Zancolli, G., Baker, T., Barlow, A., Bradley, R., Calvete, J.J., Carter, K.C., Jager, K.D., Owens, J.B., Price, J., Sanz, L., Scholes-Higham, A., Shier, L., Wood, L., Wüster, C.E., Wüster, W. (2016) Is hybridisation a source of adaptive venom variation in rattlesnakes? A test, using a Crotalus x viridis hybrid zone in southwestern New Mexico. Toxins, 8.
- Owens, J.B., Carter, K., Griffith, R. A. (2016) Reproductive and parental care notes for Norops beckeri (Boulanger, 1891) in northern Guatemala. Mesoamerican Herpetology, 3, 1007–1010.