CPHMVS Research Vet Science Fertility in Adverse Environments Group

Fertility in Adverse Environments Group


Animal production industries are critical to circumvent world-wide food shortages. However the fertility of animals in these industries is directly at risk from the impacts of adverse environmental conditions such as heat stress, social stress, disease, malnutrition, maternal age, and even in vitro embryo production. Our group uses in vivo/in vitro fertilization systems coupled with gamete & molecular biology techniques to investigate the underlying mechanisms that affect gamete quality and embryo survival in terrestrial and marine animals. Moreover, we actively develop mitigation strategies that will ultimately improve reproductive performance in these species.

Facilities Used @ JCU

The Mammalian Gamete & Embryo Laboratory (Discipline of Biomedical Science), houses temperature controlled equipment for the sterile culture & microscopic evaluation of animal germplasm. The Molecular Biology Laboratory (Biomedical Science) permits quantitative real-time PCR analysis and protein immunofluorescent labelling techniques. Additional access to facilities such as FACS (Biomedical Science/Medicine) and CASA (Veterinary Science), are available for sperm DNA integrity and sperm motility analysis respectively. Domestic animals are housed in purpose-built large animal & experimental hot-room facilities on site. Through collaborators, we also have access to fin-fish aquaculture and frog breeding facilities at JCU, as well as captive & field sites for wild mammals in Southern Africa.

Research and Development

Current research in our group includes the impact of heat stress on semen quality and embryo survival in pigs; effect of IVF and mare-age on embryo development in horses; correlating sperm quality with fecundity in barramundi; influence of season and social dominance on fertility in male African wild dogs; and the impact of chytrid fungus infection on gamete & embryo viability in frogs. Moreover, we undertake trials using nutritional supplements and novel pheromones to mitigate adverse effects on fertility in several of these species.

Industry Engagement

Our work is funded through AusAID, Morris Animal Foundation and various zoological institutions. Through our PhD and Research Masters programs, we deliver specialist training and knowledge transfer activities to students from regional developing countries in the tropics. Our results aim to inform best-practice in animal production via industry bodies such as Australian Pork Limited and Mainstream Aquaculture (Australia), as well as improve wildlife translocation practices via the Wild dog Advisory Group (South Africa).

Staff/HDR students – research team

Core JCU staff include Dr. Damien Paris (team leader), Prof. Bruce Gummow, Assoc. Prof. Anthony Parker; Assoc. Prof. Monique Paris, Assoc. Prof. Zoltan Sarnyai, and Dr. Lee Skerratt. We are further supported by internal JCU collaborations with Prof. Dean Jerry, Dr. Lee Berger, and Dr. Laura Brannelly. In addition, we have 3 PhD and 2 Honours Students undertaking projects in our group.


Dr. Damien Paris, Discipline of Biomedical Science, College of Public Health, Medical & Veterinary Sciences. Email: damien.paris@jcu.edu.au. Phone: +61 7 4781 6006