Dr Rebecca Cramp

Research Fellow

School of the Environment
Faculty of Science
r.cramp@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 58539

Overview

I am a comparative and environmental physiologist based at the University of Queensland. My research focuses primarily how the environment constrains the physiology of invertebrates, fish, amphibians and reptiles. I have a highly diverse research program that incorporates fundamental, curiosity-driven research and increasingly, a more applied research agenda in 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. My research interests encompass the general areas of osmo- and ion-regulation, digestive and thermal physiology, environmental drivers of physiological function (specifically immune function and disease susceptibility) and animal performance in anthropogenically modified environments.

Research Interests

  • 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. By taking a conservation physiology approach to studies of the impacts of environmental change on organisms, we can determine not only the degree of threat but most importantly an organisms’ capacity for acclimatisation/adaptation to these changes.
  • Integrative Physiology

Research Impacts

My research program, incorporates fundamental, curiosity-driven research and increasingly, a more applied research agenda in the emerging field of conservation physiology. By taking a conservation physiology approach to studies of the impacts of environmental change on organisms, we can determine not only the degree of threat but most importantly an organisms’ capacity for acclimatisation/adaptation to these changes. Exploring how organisms cope at environmental extremes and predicting how they respond to environmental change is becoming increasingly important as ecosystems are modified and threatened by human activity and climate change.

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science (Honours), The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science, The University of Queensland

Publications

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Supervision

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Available Projects

  • Many freshwater fish spawn in response to elevated flows. Water resource development can reduce flow magnitude, timing, frequency, duration and rate of change therefore negatively effecting the flow response required for spawning in native fish. While some aspects of fish spawning physiology and biology are well understood, many gaps remain and these gaps make it difficult to assess the impacts of water management policy on current and future species distributions. This project will focus on key water quality requirements for successful spawning and larval development in a range of native QLD fish species. This work will be used to inform policy development and help assess Queensland Water Plans within the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water.

  • Climate change is increasing sea surface temperatures and frequency of marine heatwaves in critical aquaculture production zones, which is pushing animals to their thermal limits, reducing their growth and increasing disease risks. This project will explore novel nutritional solutions to improve the thermal resiliance of aquaculture species (fish, crustaceans).

  • Climate change imposes increasingly variable environmental conditions that may be challenging to early life-history stages in animals with complex life histories, leading to detrimental physiological effects in later life. Yet, the latent nature of these carryover effects, combined with the long temporal scales over which they can manifest, means that this phenomenon remains understudied and is often overlooked in short-term studies limited to single life-history stages. This project will look at how ultraviolet B radiation impacts larval amphibian development and health in both short and longer term scales.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book Chapter

  • Whiterod, Nick S., Lintermans, Mark, Cramp, Rebecca L., Franklin, Craig E., Kennard, Mark J., McCormack, Rob, Pearce, Luke, Raadik, Tarmo A., Ward, Michelle and Zukowski, Sylvia (2023). The impact of the 2019–20 Australian wildfires on aquatic systems. Australia's Megafires: Biodiversity Impacts and Lessons from 2019-2020. (pp. 59-77) edited by Libby Rumpff, Sarah M. Legge, Stephen van Leeuwen, Brendan A. Wintle and John C. Z. Woinarski. Melbourne, VIC Australia: CSIRO.

  • Ohmer, Michel E.B., Alton, Lesley A. and Cramp, Rebecca L. (2021). Physiology provides a window into how the multi-stressor environment contributes to amphibian declines. Conservation physiology: applications for wildlife conservation and management. (pp. 165-182) edited by Christine L. Madliger, Craig E. Franklin, Oliver P. Love and Steven J. Cooke. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oso/9780198843610.003.0010

  • Cramp, Rebecca L., Rodgers, Essie M., Myrick, Christopher, Sakker, James and Franklin, Craig E. (2021). Using physiological tools to unlock barriers to fish passage in freshwater ecosystems. Conservation physiology: applications for wildlife conservation and management. (pp. 89-108) edited by Christine L. Madliger, Craig E. Franklin, Oliver P. Love and Steven J. Cooke. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oso/9780198843610.003.0006

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • Many freshwater fish spawn in response to elevated flows. Water resource development can reduce flow magnitude, timing, frequency, duration and rate of change therefore negatively effecting the flow response required for spawning in native fish. While some aspects of fish spawning physiology and biology are well understood, many gaps remain and these gaps make it difficult to assess the impacts of water management policy on current and future species distributions. This project will focus on key water quality requirements for successful spawning and larval development in a range of native QLD fish species. This work will be used to inform policy development and help assess Queensland Water Plans within the Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water.

  • Climate change is increasing sea surface temperatures and frequency of marine heatwaves in critical aquaculture production zones, which is pushing animals to their thermal limits, reducing their growth and increasing disease risks. This project will explore novel nutritional solutions to improve the thermal resiliance of aquaculture species (fish, crustaceans).

  • Climate change imposes increasingly variable environmental conditions that may be challenging to early life-history stages in animals with complex life histories, leading to detrimental physiological effects in later life. Yet, the latent nature of these carryover effects, combined with the long temporal scales over which they can manifest, means that this phenomenon remains understudied and is often overlooked in short-term studies limited to single life-history stages. This project will look at how ultraviolet B radiation impacts larval amphibian development and health in both short and longer term scales.

  • Increasing instances of environmental hypoxia in waterholes of the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) represent a significant risk to the native fish populations that rely on these refuge environments to survive extended drought periods. Hypoxic conditions are known to cause widespread mass fish kills in the MDB, however little is known about the physiological mechanisms underpinning chronic hypoxia tolerance in Australian endemic fish species. This study will examine how freshwater fish physiologically and behaviourally respond to prolonged hypoxia and whether the mechanisms underpinning these responses allow fish to compensate for the negative impacts of hypoxia on physiological function. This project relates to on-going research by QLD government regarding the health and management of QLD Murray Darling Basin waterholes and their suitability as refugia for key native fish species

  • Ash and post fire sediment runoff into streams and waterbodies can compromise animal physiological function, with significant effects on short and long-term health and survival. As with most toxicants, the impacts are dependent on both the dose of the substance as well as the duration over which animals are exposed. The threshold tolerances of fish and other aquatic animals for ash and post-fire sediment loads in Australian waterways are unknown. The provision of this information would inform the management of waterway flows to both sufficiently dilute sediment slugs and ensure that they move through sensitive habitats quickly enough before they can adversely affect animal health. This project proposes to examine the effects of acute and chronic exposure to ash and/or post-fire runoff sediment on the physiological tolerance of Australian freshwater fish and invertebrates.

  • Nitrate pollution in freshwater environments is caused by runoff from fertilisers, urban waste and debris. Despite evidence of the negative effects of nitrate toxicity on aquatic species, it is considered to be relatively non-toxic, and after heavy rain, can found in concentrations up to 100 times the current guideline of 50 mg/l.This project will examine how nitrate interacts with other environmental stressors to affect the health and survival of amphibian larvae. The outcomes of this work will feed into advice to improve the the management of water qaulity for threatened ampibian species.