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Research and Innovation

Professor Keith Christian

Higher Degree by Research
Keith Christian

Professor Keith Christian did his PhD at Colorado State University on the determinants of space use by Galapagos land iguanas. He expanded his interests in tropical ecology while working at the University of Puerto Rico. He moved to Australia in 1985.

His interests include the physiological and behavioural adaptations of animals—particularly reptiles, amphibians and ants—in response to their physical environment. He has published in the areas of comparative physiology, physiological ecology, exercise physiology, thermoregulatory biology, respiratory physiology, biophysical ecology, and biological control.

Professor Christian has worked to establish methods for using weaver ants as biological control agents in tropical tree crops in northern Australia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Timor Leste.

Professor Christian has an interest in northern Australia’s rocks and this led to a research project exploring the communities of cyanobacteria that live under translucent rocks, such as quartz, agate, and prehnite in the Wave Hill region of the Northern Territory.

HDR project opportunities

Little-known top predators in mangrove ecosystems: Uncovering the secret life of mangrove snakes

This project aims to determine the environmental characteristics of mangrove snake habitats and the physiological traits that allow them to survive in the extreme and fluctuating intertidal zone.

Specifically, we will measure (1) environmental salinity and the associated osmoregulatory (salt balance) responses, (2) the thermal environment and the associated thermoregulatory responses, (3) the characteristics of available prey and the exact composition of the diet of the three sympatric snake species, and (4) the relationships of these with respect to snake movements and habitat selection on both daily and seasonal time scales.

Microbiomes of the Black Jewfish: spatiotemporal variation and the influence of environmental change

The black jewfish (Protonibea diacanthus) is highly prized fish for its table qualities. It has been heavily overfished across their tropical Indo-West Pacific distribution with northern Australia as one of the last strongholds of this species. Skin mucus bacteria form the first barrier against infections by opportunistic pathogens and parasites and could potentially be used as microbial biomarkers of fish health, thus aiding management of wild fish populations.

We are seeking a suitable candidate to undertake PhD research study to

  • explore the phylogenetic structure of fish skin mucus and gut microbial communities;
  • investigate the effect of environmental drivers on the structure of microbial communities in both tissues;
  • examine relationships between microbial communities and indicators of fish health; and,
  • provide research outputs linking microbiome structure to fish health and disease as tools for fisheries management.

See Flyer (PDF, 1.15 MB)for more information.

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