Dr Leo Nankervis is an expert in aquaculture nutrition and feed development. He is a Senior Lecturer at JCU and leads the Tropical Aquafeeds Innovations Laboratory at James Cook University, which engages with fundamental research, development and consultancy within the Australian and international aquaculture industries. 

Previously Dr Nankervis has worked within commercial research, development and management within the global aquafeeds industry. He brings a diversity of experience, having lived in Australia, Norway and The Netherlands for extended periods and working across the aquaculture industry in 5 continents. Having led large highly skilled research and business groups, Dr Nankervis has experience with nutrition, formulation, quality, sustainability, feed safety, communications and feed production technologies in addition to his pimary focus of nutrition R&D. 

Research interests include using physiology to solve commercially relevant production bottlenecks, raw materials for aquafeeds, nutrient requirements, digestive processes in aquatic organisms, taste and palatability.

Research Projects on Offer

  • Initial investigations into nutrient requirements for grass emperor, a new species for aquaculture
  • Tropical spiny lobster feeds to fuel sustainable development; optimising feeding behaviour and nutrient requirements. 
  • Bringing out the giant in giant grouper; optimising energy inputs and metabolism for giant grouper growth and efficiency. 
  • Integrative nutrition and physiology in aquafeeds; understanding the interaction between feed ingredients, intestinal function and nutrient metabolism. 
  • AQ3002: Aquaculture: Feeds and Nutrition (Level 3; TSV)
  • AQ3003: Aquaculture: Propagation (Level 3; TSV)
  • AQ3008: Aquaculture: Systems Design (Level 3; TSV)
  • AQ5002: Aquaculture: Feeds and Nutrition (Level 5; TSV)
  • AQ5008: Aquaculture: Systems Design (Level 5; TSV)
  • Feed development for fish and crustaceans. Feed ingredient development and evaluation. Nutrient requirements. Integrative nutrition and physiology. Functional ingredient evaluation. Appetite and behavior regulation.
  • 2020 to present - Senior Lecturer, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2016 to 2019 - Marketinf/Product Performance Manager, Skretting Australia (Hobart)
  • 2007 to 2016 - Researcher/Team Leader, Skretting Aquaculture Research Centre (Stavanger, Norway)
  • 2005 to 2007 - Adjunct Lecturer, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2003 to 2007 - Consultant/R&D Manager/Technical Manager, Cell Aquaculture (Townsville/Freemantle/The Netherlands/Bulgaria)
  • 2000 to 2002 - Assistant Hatchery Manager, Seafood Online (Bowen)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 16+ research outputs authored by Dr Leo Nankervis from 2000 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Industrial Transformation Research Hubs

ARC Research Hub for Supercharging Tropical Aquaculture Through Genetic Solutions

Indicative Funding
$4,996,503 over 4 years, in partnership with Australian Genome Research Facility ($150,000); Cygnet Bay Pearls PL ($500,000); Mainstream Aquaculture ($500,000); Sea Forest Pty Ltd ($500,000) and THE COMPANY ONE PTY LTD ($500,000)
This project aims to integrate cutting edge genetic and genomic approaches into innovative aquaculture enterprises that farm in tropical northern Australia. It will deliver the requisite genetic knowledge to instigate world-leading and highly productive breeding programs for five species (barramundi, pearl oyster, prawn, grouper and marine seaweed), along with a novel understanding of the genetic basis of disease resistance and how the production environment interfaces with the bacterial microbiome, pathogens and water quality to cause disease. It will increase Australia's capacity to deliver advanced genetics outcomes to the aquaculture sector, while increasing productivity, international competitiveness, and lowered risk due to disease.
Dean Jerry, Kyall Zenger, Benjamin Hayes, Rocky de Nys, David Bourne, Andreas Lopata, Ron White, Jan Strugnell, Chaoshu Zeng, Kelly Condon, Mostafa Rahimi Azghadi, Ira Cooke, Leo Nankervis and Carla Ewels (College of Science & Engineering, The University of Queensland, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Selective Breeding; Genomics; Aquaculture

Australian Government - Innovation Connections

Towards sustainable economic aquafeed for spiny lobsters

Indicative Funding
$50,000 over 1 year, in partnership with Ornatas ($50,319)
Aquaculture of the tropical lobster Panulirus ornatus is a recently commercialised industry in Australia. Recent review of nutritional knowledge of this species has revealed significant limitations to commercialisation of feeds, including data on key nutrient requirements, raw materials and feed processing. This project will begin to address these limitations, placing this industry on the path towards improved sustainable development.
Leo Nankervis (College of Science & Engineering)
Lobster; Nutrition; Aquaculture; Panulirus ornatus

CRC for Developing Northern Australia Scheme - Scholarship

Intensification of the redclaw crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) industry: the importance of sperm quality and male fertility to productivity.

Indicative Funding
$60,000 over 3 years
Expansion of the redclaw aquaculture industry is limited by suboptimal methods to produce fertilized eggs and craylings for pond production. Improvement of reproductive efficiency is dependent on several factors as well as understanding the underlying causes of subfertility. This project seeks to develop advanced reproductive technologies to characterise sperm quality; establish optimal diets; and develop artificial fertilization and sperm cryopreservation techniques for superior male broodstock to accelerate selective breeding.
Jon Irish Aquino, John Cavalieri, Leo Nankervis and Estelle Venter in collaboration with Chaoshu Zeng and Lisa Elliot (College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, College of Science & Engineering and Australian Crayfish Hatchery)
Cherax quadricarinatus; Sperm quality; Redclaw crayfish aquaculture; Sperm freezing; Broodstock nutrition; Artificial fertilization

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research - Contract Research

PNG & Pacific Island Nations Feeds Review.

Indicative Funding
$11,485 over 1 year
Review the barriers to expansion of tilapia aquaculture for development in PNG, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste, with special reference to feeds and fingerlings.
Leo Nankervis (College of Science & Engineering)
Papua New Guinea; Nutrition; Pacific Islands; Feeds; Aquaculture

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research - Fisheries Program - Small Research Activity

Supporting grouper farming small holders in Vietnam to produce commercial feeds

Indicative Funding
$206,468 over 2 years
Developing key nutrient requirements for giant grouper in Australia for application to Australia and Vietnam. The project is based at JCU Townsville, with engagement from key stakeholders in the aquafeed industry in Vietnam through development of an Expert Working Group for dissemination and input into future research. It is aimed at developing feeds for grouper that enable smallholders to transition from `trash? fish feeding to commercially produced feeds and to support the industry in R&D dissemination, implementation and feed supply debottlenecking.
Leo Nankervis (College of Science & Engineering)
Grouper; Fish Nutrition; Formulated Feeds; Nutrient Requirements; Vietnam; Developing Countries

CRC for Developing Northern Australia - Grant

Improved education and training models to futureproof the aquaculture industry need for skilled staff to 2050

Indicative Funding
$128,155 over 1 year, in partnership with LMC Training Pty Ltd ($1,000) and the Fisheries Research & Development Corporation ($18,200)
By evaluating industry workforce needs currently and into the future and analysing the gaps between industry need and educational output, we aim to highlight gaps in careers pathways to meet future industry requirements. These careers pathways will form the basis of promotional tools created to highlight education and skills development options that lead secondary students into the aquaculture industry. Cost-effective delivery models for training will be key to the outcomes of the project and a pilot project to up-skill existing industry employees in biosecurity will be used to develop and de-bottleneck new training delivery models.
Leo Nankervis, Kelly Condon and Amy Diedrich (College of Science & Engineering)
aquaculture; Careers; educational models

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research - Contract Research

Grouper nutrition review

Indicative Funding
$50,272 over 1 year
A new ACIAR Concept Note is in preparation for the continuation of ACIAR investment in hybrid grouper aquaculture in Vietnam (FIS/2020/106). In parallel with the development of the Concept Note that will include a high level approach to nutrition research, a desk-top review of existing research is needed to prepare a targeted and practical research focus for the grow-out nutrition component of the project. The frequency of publication of peer-reviewed articles in grouper nutrition is ever increasing and understanding the current status of research is critical in order to maximise ACIAR investment in this area. The review will inform the detail of the experimental approach in the next ACIAR project, which needs to be planned in advance of the project start to maximise outcomes (possible start in July 2021). In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented further scoping travel to Vietnam in the short-term which will necessitate careful remote planning with proposed research partners to identify the most appropriate research systems and resource requirements in Vietnam and Australia for this research component (to be considered in time for resource requirements to be included in the Concept Note submitted in June 2019).
Leo Nankervis and Jennifer Blair (College of Science & Engineering)
Aquaculture; Vietnam; Grouper (Epinephelus sp); Marine Fish Hatcheries; Fish Nutrition; Developing Economies

Tarac Technologies Pty Ltd - Contract Research

Acti-meal dose-response for abalone.

Indicative Funding
$59,500 over 1 year
Tarac international wish to evaluate their grape marc commercially marketed as `Acti-Meal?. This has shown positive effects on growth for greenlip abalone. Marketing this product needs further validation and examination of mode-of-action, which we hope to elaborate with this project. This research is expected to lead on to further contracts with Tarac, including abalone and prawn nutrition.
Leo Nankervis (College of Science & Engineering)
Fish Nutrition; Consultancy; Commercial Feeds

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research - Contract Research

ACIAR Lobster Nutrition Review

Indicative Funding
$35,490 over 1 year
A new ACIAR scoping project is being prepared in support of possible new ACIAR investment in tropical rock lobster (Panulirus homarus and Panulirus ornatus) aquaculture in Indonesia. A thorough review of literature is proposed in order to prepare for the nutrition and feeds development component of the project, ensuring that we apply the learnings from previous projects and current scientific literature. The review will inform the detail of the experimental approach in a proposed new ACIAR project, which will benefit from advanced planning prior to the project start to maximise outcomes (possible start in July 2021). In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented any scoping travel to Indonesia in the short-term, providing opportunity to complete a review and facilitating best use of resources once the project starts.
Leo Nankervis and Clive Jones (College of Science & Engineering)
Aquaculture; Indonesia; Lobster (Panulirus sp); Developing Economies; Crustacean nutrition; Review

Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research - Research Grant

Scoping study for hybrid grouper aquaculture production in Vietnam

Indicative Funding
Travel to Vietnam to meet with R&D collaborators from government and industry to scope the R&D priorities in hybrid grouper aquaculture in Vietnam. For the scoping study ? total 10 days each for J Cobcroft and L Nankervis (2 days for background reading prior to the trip; 2 days travel between home base and Vietnam; 4 days scoping study meetings and information gathering with proposed team members and others in Vietnam; 2 days for writing-up scoping study report). After this scoping study, prepare the ACIAR Concept Proposal for submission by 30 June 2020, full proposal development and review July 2020 -April 2021, for successful proposal contracting by 30 June 2021 and project start 1 July 2021.
Jennifer Blair and Leo Nankervis (College of Science & Engineering)
Aquaculture; Grouper; Fish nutrition; Vietnam; Marine fish hatcheries; Developing economies

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Planktivorous fishes on coral reefs: a trophic exploration (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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