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Division of Natural Sciences & MathematicsDepartment of Biological Sciences

Faculty & Staff

Associate Professor

Shannon M. Murphy

Shannon Murphy

Office: Boettcher West 302

Office Phone: 303-871-7571

Lab: Boettcher West 301

Email: [email protected]

Personal webpage

DU Organismal Biologists Group




  • 1997 BA, Environmental, Population and Organismic Biology - University of Colorado - Boulder, CO
  • 2005 PhD, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology - Cornell University - Ithaca, NY

Research Interests

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 on the Murphy Lab webpage.