Prof. Eugene Murphy - Profile
Prof. Eugene J. Murphy
My main focus is on the controls on the structure and functioning (operation) of ocean ecosystems and how physical-chemical and biological process interactions at different scales affect the ecosystem structure. This requires a multi-disciplinary approach that combines oceanographic and ecological studies. The geographical focus of my research has been the Southern Ocean and the ecological focus has centred on Antarctic krill, which is a key species in Southern Ocean food webs.
Particular topics of interest include: the role of zooplankton in marine food webs, zooplankton population dynamics, coupled models of krill dynamics and dispersal, predator-prey interactions in patchy systems, connectivity in ocean ecosystems, cross scale processes, food web modelling, end-to-end modelling of ecosystems and emergent structure of ecosystems, variability in oceanic ecosystems, impacts of fisheries and climate change in ocean ecosystems, linking biogeochemical and food web processes, sustainable management of fisheries and the role of ecological processes in the Earth System.
Specific achievements include:
- Scale-based approaches to analyses of ocean ecosystems that have influenced national Southern Ocean research efforts for over 20 years and contributed to global understanding of the controls on the structure and functioning of ocean ecosystems.
- Integrated assessment of the structure and functioning of large scale ocean ecosystems focussed on the Scotia Sea region of the Southern Ocean.
- Development of understanding of how climate variability across the Southern Hemisphere affects ocean and sea-ice and the structure and functioning of oceanic ecosystems.
- Elucidation of the role of advection in the dispersal and distribution of krill populations and in maintenance of ecosystem structure in the Southern Ocean.
- Models of the population dynamics of krill and coupled physical-biological models of their dispersal, growth and survival.
- Models of predator-prey processes and the impacts of historical and future change on krill and ecosystems in the Southern Ocean.
- Development and maintenance of one of the longest multi-disciplinary and multi-trophic long term ecological observational site in the Southern Ocean and one of the few available for any area of the world ocean.
- Contributions to the development of ecosystem based approaches to sustainable management of marine living resources through the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).
The focus is on developing large-scale (to circumpolar) analyses and models of the controls on the structure and functioning of Southern Ocean ecosystems.
Specific projects include
- Analyses of the variability and impacts of variability on the structure and functioning of ocean ecosystems and key species.
- Modelling the life cycle of Antarctic krill to predict circumpolar distribution and abundance.
Developing approaches to modelling the structure and functioning of oceanic food webs as part of work on the end-to-end operation of ecosystems.
- Comparative analyses of the structure and functioning of Antarctic and Arctic ocean ecosystems and the impacts of change in polar ecosystems.
Current major projects and funding:
- Science Leader of the BAS Core supported Ecosystems Programme encompassing ~ 40 staff in 4 workpackages
- Capital equipment awards over the last 2 years.
- Co-I or partner on current grants:
- Gliders: Excellent New Tools for Observing the Ocean (GENTOO) (Karen Heywood, UEA; Sophie Fielding, BAS).
- Impacts of Southern Ocean warming on marine connectivity: Integrating oceanographic modelling with molecular ecology and developmental biology (Gary Carvhalo, Bangor, Emma Young, BAS)
- Coordinating International Research on Southern Ocean Ecosystems: Implementation of the ICED Programme (Rachel Cavanagh, BAS)
- Biophysical and ionic controls of buoyancy in diapausing calanoid copepods (David Pond, SAMS, Geraint Tarling, BAS).
4. International funded activities include:
- EUR-OCEANS Consortium Polar Ecosystem Change and Synthesis (PECS) with Professor Dieter Wolff Galdrow (AWI).
- IMBER/SCOR funding for the ICED SSC and programme development.
- SCAR funding for the ICED activities and programme development.
Bednarsek, N., Tarling, G.A., Bakker, D.C.E., Fielding, S., Jones, E.M., Venables, H.J., Ward, P., Kuzirian, A., Leze, B., Feely, R.A., and Murphy, E.J., 2012, Extensive dissolution of live pteropods in the Southern Ocean: Nature Geosci, v. 5, p. 881-885.
The first observation of evidence of natural dissolution in a marine pteropod in surface waters of the Southern Ocean. The international study examined the shell characteristics of small pelagic mollusc in the Southern Ocean that has a potentially important role in biogeochemically cycling and regional food webs. We found that in one particular area the surface water pH was reduced and the shells of the pteropods showed significant dissolution effects. This was related to an area of upwelling of water of low pH, with evidence that atmospheric changes in CO2 concentration had contributed to the reduced pH.