Wildlife Conservation Physiology lab

Wildlife Conservation Physiology (WCP) is an area of research within the Brain Function Research Group. Our research focuses on the ecophysiology and thermoregulation of African, Australian and Arabian mammals, as well as the physiological responses of wild mammals to global climate change and game capture procedures.

Current research:

  • Body temperature and thermoregulation of African, Australian and Arabian mammals
  • Thermoregulation of small, arid-dwelling mammals
  • Effects of habitat transformation on the physiology of animals
  • The mechanisms involved in the control of selective brain cooling during heat stress and dehydration
  • Effects on human interference on selective brain cooling in ungulates
  • Thermal stress of capture
  • Cooling of hyperthermic animals during capture
  • Prevention of respiratory depression in opioid-immobilized animals


Prof Andrea Fuller
Dr Robyn Hetem
Dr Hilary Lease
Dr Richard McFarland
Dr Ian Murray
Dr Benjamin Rey

Honorary staff 
Prof Duncan Mitchell 
Dr Leith Meyer, University of Pretoria
Dr Shane Maloney, University of Western Australia
Prof Louise Barrett, University of Leithbridge, Canada 



Postgraduate opportunities: 

Click here for  BFRG Postgraduate Opportunities

Latest publications from WEP:

McFARLAND R, HETEM RS, FULLER A, MITCHELL D, HENZI SP, BARRETT L. Cross-validation of observational and biologger techniques to quantify activity in a free-ranging primate Animal Behaviour, in press 

TEULIER L, TORNOS J, ROUANET J-L, REY B, ROUSSEL D. Metabolic response to lipid infusion in fasting winter-acclimatized king penguin chicks (Aptenodytes patagonicusComparative Biochemistry and Physiology A, in press

GRAY DA, MARAIS M, MALONEY SK. A review of the physiology of fever in birds Journal of Comparative Physiology B, in press

McFARLAND, R & MAJOLO, B. The importance of considering the behavioural form of reconciliation in studies of conflict resolution International Journal of Primatology, 34: 15-29 

McFARLAND R, ROEBUCK H, YAN Y, LI W, MAJOLO B, GUO K. Social interactions through the eyes of macaques and humans PLoSONE, 8(2): e56437, 2013

PASTERNAK G, BROWN LR, KIENZLE S, FULLER A, BARRETT L, HENZI SP. Population ecology of vervet monkeys in a high latitude, semi-arid riparian woodland Koedoe 55(1): 1078, 2013

REY B, ROUSSEL D, ROUANET J-L, DUCHAMP C. Differential effects of thyroid status on regional H202 production in slow- and fast-twitch muscle of ducklings Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 183: 135–143, 2013

HETEM RS, STRAUSS WM, FICK LG, MALONEY SK, MEYER LCR, SHOBRAK M, FULLER A, MITCHELL D. Does size matter? Comparison of body temperature and activity of free-living Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx) and the smaller Arabian sand gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa marica) in the Saudi desert Journal of Comparative Physiology B182: 437-449, 2012 

HETEM RS, STRAUSS WM, FICK LG, MALONEY SK, MEYER LCR, SHOBRAK M, FULLER A, MITCHELL D. Activity re-assignment and microclimate selection of free-living Oryx leucoryx: responses that could minimise effects of climate change? Zoology, 115: 411-416, 2012 

HETEM RS, STRAUSS WM, FICK LG, MALONEY SK, MEYER LCR, SHOBRAK M, FULLER A, MITCHELL D. Selective brain cooling in Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx): a physiological mechanism for coping with aridity? The Journal of Experimental Biology 215: 3917-3924, 2012

LEASE HM, KLOK CJ, KAISER A, HARRISON JF. Body size is not critical for critical PO2 in scarabaeid and tenebrionid beetles Journal of Experimental Biology, 215: 2524-2533

MCFARLAND R, MAJOLO B. The occurrence and benefits of postconflict bystander affiliation in wild Barbary macaques, Macaca sylvanus Animal Behaviour 84: 583–591

MURRAY IW, SMITH FA. Estimating the influence of the thermal environment on activity patterns of the desert woodrat (Neotoma lepida) using temperature chronologies Canadian Journal of Zoology 90:1171-1180, 2012 

SHRESTHA AK, VAN WIEREN SE, VAN LANGEVELDE F, FULLER A, HETEM RS, MEYER LCR, DE BIE S, PRINS HHT. Body temperature variation of three South African antelope in two climatically contrasting environments Journal of Thermal Biology 37: 171-178, 2012

FULLER A, HETEM RS, MEYER LCR, MALONEY SK. Angularis oculi vein blood flow modulates the magnitude but not the control of selective brain cooling in sheep American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, 300: R1409-R1417, 2011 

HETEM RS, DE WITT BA, FICK LG, FULLER A, MALONEY SK, MEYER LCR, MITCHELL D, KERLEY GIH. Effects of desertification on the body temperature, activity and water turnover of Angora goats Journal of Arid Environments 75: 20-28, 2011

HETEM RS, STRAUSS WM, HEUSINKVELD BG, DE BIE S, PRINS HHT, VAN WIEREN SE. Energy advantages of orientation to solar radiation in three African ruminants Journal of Thermal Biology, 36: 452-460, 2011

LESKU JA, MEYER LCR, FULLER A, MALONEY SK, DELL’OMO G, VYSSOTSKI AL, RATTENBORG NC. Ostriches sleep like platypuses PLoS ONE 6(8): 1-7, 2011

MALONEY SK, FULLER A, MEYER LCR, KAMERMAN PR, MITCHELL G, MITCHELL D. Minimum daily core body temperature in western grey kangaroos decreases as summer advances: a seasonal pattern, or a direct response to water, heat or energy supply? The Journal of Experimental Biology, 214: 1813-1820, 2011

TORRAO N, HETEM RS, MEYER LCR, FICK LG. An assessment of the use of temperature-sensitive microchips to determine core body temperature
The Veterinary Record 168: 328, 2011

FULLER A, DAWSON T, HELMUTH B, HETEM RS, MITCHELL D, MALONEY SK. Physiological mechanisms in coping with climate change Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 83: 713-720, 2010

HETEM RS, STRAUSS WM, FICK LG, MALONEY SK, MEYER LCR, SHOBRAK M, FULLER A, MITCHELL D. Variation in the daily rhythm of body temperature of free-living Arabian oryx (Oryx leucoryx): does water limitation drive heterothermy? Journal of Comparative Physiology B Biochemical, Systems, and Environmental Physiology, 180: 1111-1119, 2010

MALONEY SK, FULLER A, MITCHELL D. A warming climate remains a plausible hypothesis for the decrease in dark Soay sheep
Biology Letters, 6: 680-681, 2010

MEYER LCR, HETEM RS, FICK LG, MITCHELL D, FULLER A. Effects of serotonin agonists and doxapram on respiratory depression and hypoxemia in etorphine-immobilized impala (Aepyceros MelampusJournal of Wildlife Diseases, 46: 514-524, 2010

WILSON WA, O’RIAIN MJ, HETEM RS, FULLER A, FICK LG. Winter body temperature patterns in free-ranging Cape ground squirrel Xerus inauris: no evidence for torpor Journal of Comparative Physiology B Biochemical, Systems, and Environmental Physiology, 180: 1099-1110, 2010

For more information on Wildlife Environmental Physiology, Brain Function Research Group, contact Dr Robyn Hetem,