Office: SG Mudd 309
Office Phone: 303-871-7571
1997 BA, Environmental, Population and Organismic Biology - University of Colorado - Boulder, CO
2005 PhD, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology - Cornell University - Ithaca, NY
Herbivorous insects account for just over one quarter of all living plant and animal species. Indeed, there are 10 times more butterfly and moth species than there are species of birds and mammals combined - and that's just one of the many groups of herbivorous insects! My research interests focus on the ecology and evolution of interactions between herbivorous insects, the plants that they feed upon and the predators and parasitoids that feed upon them. My goal is to understand why insects eat what they do and to approach this research by asking questions at multiple scales, from populations to communities to ecosystems. At the scale of populations, I am interested in why some herbivorous insects are specialists while others are generalists and how each of these groups choose their host plants. At the scale of communities, I seek to understand how natural enemies affect community structure and population dynamics of herbivorous insects. Finally, at the ecosystem scale, I study how nutrient cycling and resource subsidies may affect interactions between herbivorous insects and their host plants both directly as well as indirectly by altering the impact that natural enemies and detritivores have on populations of herbivores. My underlying approach in developing my research program is integrative, drawing on techniques and theory developed in a variety of disciplines including anatomy, behavior, biogeochemistry, botany, chemistry, ecology, entomology and evolutionary biology.
Link to Murphy's publications (.pdf)