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AMRRIC supports and partners with researchers working in the fields of animal and human health

AMRRIC recognises that ethical, culturally sensitive research can result in significant and tangible benefits for both Indigenous communities and their companion animals. We also value the benefits of the involvement of Indigenous people as full partners in research projects. Such collaboration builds capacity both within communities and of Indigenous researchers, institutions and organisations, and is a model that AMRRIC strongly supports.

As Australia’s only independent organisation focusing on all areas of companion animal management in rural and remote Indigenous communities, AMRRIC is in a unique position to facilitate effective and appropriate research collaborations. We are eager to engage with Indigenous communities and researchers to assist in the development and implementation of projects that align with our Research Policy (PDF, 395kb) and strategic objectives.

AMRRIC’s Research Priorities

  1. Links between animal, human and environmental health, including best-practice management of interdependent animal and human health and welfare issues promoting trans-disciplinary approaches.
  2. Animal health and welfare education priorities 
  3. Animal behaviour and community safety
  4. Capacity building in regards to One Health knowledge
  5. Links between animal abuse and human abuse
  6. Program evaluation and policy development and analysis

For further information about collaborating with AMRRIC on research projects, please contact AMRRIC.

Previous and ongoing research projects include:

• AMRRIC was a partner in the University of Sydney Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (ARC) project “Healthy Dogs, Healthy Communities” , chaired by the late Professor Robert Dixon. The project examined the relationships between culturally-appropriate education and training, dog health and welfare, and human health and welfare in 6 remote Indigenous communities across Australia. The project sought to demonstrate that the improvement of the health and welfare of dogs through sustainable dog health programs are directly due to the community involvement catalysed by specifically-designed knowledge and skill sharing activities. The project furthered aimed to show that the improvement of dog health and welfare also impacts on human health and welfare in Indigenous communities. Published manuscripts include:

  • Constable, S. E., Brown, G., Dixon, R. M., & Dixon, R. (2008). Healing the hand that feeds you: exploring solutions for Dog and Community Health and Welfare in Australian Indigenous cultures. Faculty of Education-Papers, 219-229.
  • Constable, S., Dixon, R., & Dixon, R. (2010). For the Love of Dog: The Human Dog Bond in Rural and Remote Australian Indigenous Communities. Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 23(4), 337-349.
  • Constable, S., Dixon, R., & Dixon, R. (2011). Learning Preferences and Impacts of Education Programs in Dog Health Programs in Five Rural and Remote Australian Indigenous Communities. The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, 40, 48-5
  • Constable SE. (2012) Knowledge-sharing education and training to enhance dog health initiatives in remote and rural Indigenous communities in Australia. PhD Thesis. University of Sydney, Sydney. 
  • Constable, S. E., Dixon, R. M., & Dixon, R. J. (2013). Education resources in remote Australian Indigenous community dog health programs: a comparison of community and extra-community-produced resources. Health promotion international, 28(3), 333-344.

• The Transmissible Cancer Group (TCG) at the University of Cambridge studies the genetic changes that cause cancers to become transmissible. There are only two known naturally occurring transmissible cancers in mammals, and these are the canine transmissible venereal tumour (TVT) affecting dogs, and the transmissible facial tumour affecting Tasmanian devils. In collaboration with AMRRIC, the TCG is studying the genetic changes in TVT tumours in Australia, and using this information to trace the history and spread of TVT and to design better treatment and prevention strategies. Publications from this research include:

  • Murchison, E.P. et al. (2014) Transmissable Dog Cancer Genome Reveals the Origin and History of an Ancient Cell Lineage. Science 343, 437 doi: 10.1126/science.1247167
  • Strakova, A., Murchison, E.P., (2015) The cancer which survived: insights from the genome of an 11,000 year-old cancer. Current Opinion in Genetics and Development. 30:49-55, doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2015.03.005
  • Strakova, A., Murchison, E.P., (2015) The changing global distribution and prevalence of canine transmissible venereal tumour. BMC Vet Res. Sept 3;10:168, doi: 10.1186/s12917-014-0168-9

• AMRRIC assisted University of Sydney researchers investigating the movements and interactions of community dogs as part of a broader rabies preparedness project. Publications include:

  • Dürr S, Ward MP (2015) Development of a Novel Rabies Simulation Model for Application in a Non-endemic Environment. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 9(6): e0003876. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0003876 
  • Salome Dürr, Michael P. Ward, (2015) Roaming behaviour and home range estimation of domestic dogs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in northern Australia using four different methods. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, Volume 117, Issue 2, 15 November 2014, Pages 340-357, doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2014.07.008.

• Through collaboration with the University of New England, AMRRIC and the Tiwi Islands Regional Council, PhD candidate Jessica Sparkes quantified the Nguiu (Tiwi Islands) dog population and assessed the effects of sex and reproductive state on activity patterns and contact rates of free-roaming dogs using mark-recapture and GPS telemetry methods. This work was part of broader team project conducting research into rabies, aiming to assist Australia’s efforts in preventing the disease entering Australia or halting its spread should the disease breach quarantine. Publications from this project include:

  • Sparkes, J., Körtner ,G., Ballard, G., Fleming, P.J., Brown, W.Y. (2014) Effects of Sex and Reproductive State on Interactions between Free-Roaming Domestic Dogs. PLoS ONE 9(12): e116053. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0116053 
  • Sparkes, J., Ballard, G., Fleming, P.J., Brown, W. (2014) Social, conservation and economic implications of rabies in Austalia. Australian Zoologist In-Press. doi: 10.7882/AZ.2014.033 
  • Sparkes, J., Ballard, G., Koertner, G., Fleming, P.J., Brown, W.Y, (2014) Canine Rabies in Australia: Modelling Spread Through the Landscape, Conference Proceedings, Australian Society for Infectious Disease,
  • Sparkes, J., Fleming, P.J., Ballard, G., Scott-Orr, H., Durr, S., Ward, M.P., (2015) Canine rabies in Australia: a review of preparedness and research needs. Zoonoses Public Health 62(4):237-53 doi: 10.1111/zph.12142

• Ticks collected from community dogs during AMRRIC veterinary programs have been sent to Murdoch University for analysis by Professor Peter Irwin and colleagues who are investigating potential pathogens (including zoonoses) in ticks across Australia. Visit Tick Vectors for further information. Publications include:

  • Gofton, A.W., et al (2015) Inhibition of the endosymbiont “Candidatus Midichloria mitochondrii” during 16S rRNA gene profiling reveals potential pathogens in Ixodes ticks from Australia. Parasites and Vectors 8:345 DOI 10.1186/s13071-015-0958-3 

• AMRRIC was involved in an Honors Project through the Menzies School of Health Research entitled ‘The occurrence of the melioidosis agent Burkholderia pseudomallei in scats from captive and wild animals in the Darwin region’. Melioidosis is an emerging infectious disease caused by the soil bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei, impacting humans and animals in northern Australia and South East Asia with an increasingly expanding geographic range. Collaboration with AMRRIC by way of sampling from animals in Indigenous communities was a crucial component of this study as melioidosis is a disease which disproportionately impacts Indigenous Australians.

• AMRRIC has assisted a research group at Flinders University investigating Strongyloides – a group of parasitic hookworms capable of infecting humans and other mammals. The research group is investigating environmental factors that determine Strongyloides distribution, and the role that dogs might play in Strongyloides transmission.

  • Taylor, M.J., Garrard, T.A., O’Donahoo, F.J., Ross, K.E., (2014) Human strongyloidiasis: identifying knowledge gaps, with emphasis on environmental control, Research and Report in Tropical Medicine 5:55-63 doi: 10.2147/RRTM.S63138 

• By facilitating the collection of dog blood samples, AMRRIC supported University of Queensland research investigating the presence of Rickettsia felis – a vector-borne organism of zoonotic disease significance. This became the first reported study demonstrating the presence of Rickettsia felis in Indigenous community dogs in the Northern Territory.

  • Hii, S.-F., Kopp, S.R., Thompson, M.F., O’Leary, C.A., Rees, R.L., Traub, R.J. (2011) Molecular evidence of Rickettsia felis infection in dogs from the northern territory, Australia. Parasites & Vectors, 4:198

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Darwin NT 0801