Animal Physiological Ecology

The wet-dry tropical environment of northern Australia creates challenges for animals that have to survive conditions that cycle between being extremely dry and being extremely wet. The dry season is characterised  not only by a lack of water, but also by a reduction in insects (and other terrestrial invertebrates), which are the main food for many vertebrate animals, particularly frogs and lizards. Thus, energy is also in short supply. The over-abundance of water creates its own problems, particularly in relation to frogs that spend much of their time in water, and for terrestrial eggs. Many animals have evolved unique adaptations to survive these extreme conditions. These include seasonal shifts in thermoregulatory behaviour, seasonal changes in metabolic physiology, secretions in the skin of frogs that provide resistance to evaporative water loss, adaptations to avoid taking up too much water (in frogs and in some eggs), and underwater nesting by one species of turtle.

In addition to a focus on the physiological ecology of amphibians and reptiles, the group also works on a range of other projects, including the use of weaver ants to control pests in tropical tree crops, microbial associations with amphibians and reptiles, and the physiological ecology of cyanobacteria that live on the under-side of translucent rocks.

Projects

Aquaporins and Water Balance in Ecologically Diverse Amphibians

Amphibian and reptile skin-associated microbiome across species, space and life history stages

Do Frogs Host Faecal Bacteria Typically Associated with Humans?

Survival of hatchling saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) to one year

Saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) nest temperatures and the implications of climate change

Assessment of Chelodina mccordi current status and community awareness along the Irasequiro River, Timor Leste

The digestive physiology of reptiles

Hypolithic cyanobacteria diversity and activity: a model system to test emerging analytical tools

Correlations between gecko toe pad morphology and ecological habitat

Improvement of Organic Cashew in East Timor

 

People in the group

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Prof Keith Christian
Professor - Savanna management & wildlife conservation
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Dr Christine Schlesinger
Senior Research Fellow
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Assoc Prof Renkang Peng
Adjunct - Associate Professor
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Chris Tracy
Adjunct
Carla.Eisemberg@cdu.edu.au's picture
Dr Carla Eisemberg (De Alvarenga)
Research Associate
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Dr Teigan Cremona
Research Associate