Conservation Physiology

The Eco-lab is a strong proponent of the emerging field of Conservation Physiology. Conservation Physiology explores the responses of organisms to anthropogenic threats, and attempts to determine the ecophysiological constraints dictated by current conditions, and future environmental change. We aim to determine and assess the proximate abiotic and biotic factors that impose fitness consequences upon the organisms as a result of anthropogenic environmental change allowing us to forecast the responses of organisms to such change. Importantly, this assists in determining the degree of threat of environmental disturbance to organisms and therefore help to set priority areas for conservation action. Underpinned by ecological and physiological theory, conservation physiology takes a multidisciplinary and integrative approach that encompasses both field and laboratory-based research.

Current research topics

  • Interactive effects of UV-B and other environmental factors on disease susceptibility in amphibians
  • The relationship between skin sloughing and susceptibility to the amphibian chytrid fungus: a previously overlooked host defence mechanism?
  • Skin function during sloughing in amphibians
  • Understanding the effects of bushfires on aquatic organisms in freshwater environments
  • Can rough substrate improve the efficiency of fish swimming performance? Implications for culvert design
  • Experimental evaluation of swimming performance of juvenile fishes: application to fish passage
  • Quantifying physiological responses of fish to low temperatures - implications for cold water pollution.
  • Coping with Climate Change: Can diet be used to change the thermal phenotype of aquaculture species?
  • Diving in hot water: how will ectothermic vertebrates fare in warmer environments?

Research opportunities

Various projects are available from the Franklin lab, see available projects for existing research or contact us to discuss potential projects.

Ice fish
An Antarctic ice fish, used to study how global warming affects their physiology.
Freshwater turtle
A freshwater turtle, used to study how warming temperature affects their diving performance 
Green tree frog
A green tree frog (Litoria caerulea), used to study how fungal diseases affect their skin function. Photo credit: Cameron Baker.