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The Australian National University

Cooper Lab - Insect physiology, salt and water regulation

Teaching | Research | Research opportunities | Lab members | Lab awards | Publications | Grants

Associate Professor Paul Cooper

Building 116,
Research School of Biology,
The Australian National University,
Acton, ACT 0200
T: 61253069


I undertook my Ph.D. at UCLA studying water balance in desert beetles. I then went travelling, taking a postdoctoral position wherever I found one; so I was at the Univ. of Tennessee-Knoxville, Univ. of Arizona and Univ. of British Columbia. I obtained a postdoc at La Trobe Univ. before being appointed as a contract lecturer here at the ANU in 1987.  I have lectured in physiological, behavioural and introductory ecology, invertebrate and vertebrate zoology, entomology and the current physiology courses.  My research uses various microscopic techniques (confocal, SEM, x-ray µCT), as well as a variety of electrophysiological techniques.  I am an editor for the Australian Journal of Zoology and act as the convenor of the recovery team for the Grassland Earless Dragon, an endangered agamid lizard that has known populations only in the ACT and NSW south to Cooma.


Biol2103 Human Physiology (Course convenor)
Biol1008 Human Biology
Biol3203 Histology and Advanced Microscopy(Course convenor)
Supervision of undergraduate and Honours research projects
Teaching Awards
2010 Biol1008 Joint teaching award with Drs Andras Keszei, Isabelle Ferru and William Foley

Research interests

Regulation of feeding in insects by neural and endocrine systems.  Physiology and ecology of aquatic macroinvertebrates, especially salt and pH regulation, and their use as indicators of water quality.  Physiology and ecology of insect pests of Australian agriculture.

Current projects

Regulation of cricket salivary glands

Examines the way that feeding affects the morphology and chemistry of the insect salivary gland.        Show more detail...

Feeding and ecology of grapevine scales

The phenology and ecology of grapevine scales in the region around the ACT are being studied to understand the reason these insects are a problem to the wine industry.        Show more detail...

Regulation of rat reproduction in rice fields of south east Asia

Natural chemicals are being screened to determine how rat reproduction may be controlled in the rice fields.        Show more detail...

Effect of endocrine disruptors on reproduction in daphniids

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals produced by humans that can affect a number of hormonally controlled processes in other organisms. This study will examine how reproduction is affected by endocrine disruptors in the aquatic daphniids (Crustacea)        Show more detail...

Student research opportunities

Environmental physiology of locusts

Temperature regulation and acclimation of locusts to high and low temperatures. Reproductive physiology of locusts.        Show more detail...

Insect ecology, morphology or physiology

Any topic that encompasses some aspect of insect feeding biology or morphology will be supported.        Show more detail...

Role of gonadotrophins in the maintenance of reproductive quiescence of the female tammar wallaby.

Study aimed at understanding role of GnRH in maintenance of corpus luteum and/or blastocyst quiescence in tammar wallabies        Show more detail...

Lab members

  • Paul Cooper (Lab Leader)
  • Monique Pereira (Occupational Trainee)
  • Nelson Simbiken (PhD student)

» Go to lab directory

Lab awards and achievements

Past students have jobs at universities and in a number of government agencies. The lab is very successful at ensuring post grad and Honours students are able to obtain positions.


Selected publications

Cooper, P.D., Schaffer, W.M. and Buchmann, S.L. 1985. Heat budgets and temperature regulation in honey bees foraging in the desert. Journal of Experimental Biology 114, 1-15.

Cooper, P.D. 1994. Mechanisms of hemolymph acid-base regulation in aquatic insects. Physiological Zoology 67, 29-53.

Cooper, P.D. and He, P.-H. 1994. Control of foregut contraction in the black field cricket, Teleogryllus commodus Walker (Orthoptera, Gryllidae). Journal of Insect Physiology 40, 475-481.

East, P.D., Hales, D.F.& Cooper, P.D. 1997. Distribution of sulfakinin-like peptides in the central and sympathetic nervous system of the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana (L.) and the field cricket Teleogryllus commodus (Walker). Tissue and Cell 39, 347-354.

Cooper, P.D. 2001. What physiological processes permit insects to eat Eucalyptus leaves? Australian Journal of Ecology 26, 556-562.

Woodman, J.D. P.D. Cooper and V.S. Haritos. 2007. Cyclic gas exchange in the giant burrowing cockroach, Macropanesthia rhinoceros: effect of oxygen tension and temperature. Journal of Insect Physiology 53, 497-504.

Woodman, J.D., Paul D. Cooper and Victoria S. Haritos. 2008. Neural regulation of discontinuous gas exchange in Periplaneta americana. Journal of Insect Physiology 54, 472-480.

Woodman, J.D., V. S. Haritos and P.D. Cooper. 2008. Effects of phosphine on the neural regulation of gas exchange in Periplaneta Americana. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 147: 271-277.

Cooper, P.D., S.R. Dennis, J.D. Woodman, A. Cowlings and C. Donnelly. 2010. Effect of opioid compounds on feeding and activity of the cockroach, Periplaneta americana. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology C 151, 298-302.

Cooper, P.D. & Beckage, N.E. 2010. The effects of parasitism on foregut contraction in the caterpillar of the tobacco hornworm, Manduca sexta L. Journal of Insect Physiology, 56, 1958-1965.

All publications

Click here to see a full list of publications on the ISI website...

Recent grants

Students have been funded by the Malaysian government and AusAID in the last 5 years.  No Australian government grants in that period.

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Updated:  21 December 2010/Responsible Officer:  Director RSB /Page Contact:  RSB Webmaster