Dr David Murrell
My research concentrates on understanding what biological processes act to maintain biodiversity. In other words, what acts as the glue to hold natural communities together? In particular I am interested in the effects of spatial structure on population and community ecological and evolutionary dynamics.
The theoretical framework for plant ecology is arguably still someway behind that for animal ecology. Whilst neighbourhood interactions have been incorporated into models, incredibly size structure has yet to be added. This is despite strong evidence that shows neighbour size may be at least as important as neighbour identity. (A good big `un will almost always beat a good little `un.)
Key areas of future research
1. My previous work has shown that the distances over which interactions occur are crucial in deciding the outcome of competition. Yet, we still know very little about the distances over which plants interact. One of my aims is to gain a better understanding of the spatial scale of neighbourhood interactions.
2. I will develop theory that it is more relevant to natural communities. One goal is to develop models that incorporate both neighbourhood interactions and size structure. Such a model will be highly non-linear and this means that it is hard to predict a priori the effects of adding in size structure. But this also makes it more interesting.
3. I also want to test more spatial theory via experiment and manipulation of natural communities. There is still a vast body of spatial theory that has yet to be tested.
4. There exists a gulf between theory and empirical research in spatial ecology. Theory almost always talks about long term dynamics, whereas empirical research is often over short time scales. Can equilibrium-based ecological theory and empirical data ever be successfully reconciled?
5. When is it possible to determine the ecological process from the ecological pattern? Often we are faced with snapshots of natural communities in both space and time, and from these snapshots we wish to understand the recent past, and project likely dynamics in the near future. This has a difficult task since many ecological patterns of interest have been shown to be generated by multiple causes. I am interested in finding robust (repeatable) patterns in ecological data that can be used to discern the likely processes that may have created them.
Up to date publication records
I coordinate the Biosciences undergraduate course BIOL2012, Fundamentals in Ecology. I also coordinate a masters-level field-trip to Plymouth; and lecture on ecology and biodiversity in a variety of other undergraduate and graduate courses.
- Flügge AJ, Olhede SC, Murrell DJ (2012). The memory of spatial patterns - changes in local abundance and aggregation in a tropical forest. Ecology, , - . doi:10.1890/11-1004.1
- Nattrass S, Baigent SA, Murrell DJ (2012). Quantifying the likelihood of coexistence for communities with asymmetric competition. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, 74(10), 2315 - 2338. doi:10.1007/s11538-012-9755-8
- Barraquand F, Murrell DJ (2012). Intense or spatially heterogeneous predation can select against prey dispersal. PLoS ONE, 7(1), - .
- Barraquand F, Murrell DJ (2011). Evolutionarily stable consumer home range size in relation to resource demography and consumer spatial organization. Theoretical Ecology, , 1 - 23.
- Murrell DJ (2010). When does local spatial structure hinder competitive coexistence and reverse competitive hierarchies?. Ecology, 91(6), 1605 - 1616.
- Vogt DR, Murrell DJ, Stoll P (2010). Testing Spatial Theories of Plant Coexistence: No Consistent Differences in Intra- and Interspecific Interaction Distances. The American Naturalist, 175(1), 73 - 84.
- Murrell D (2010). Deadly animal diseases poised to infect humans. The Independent on Sunday, , - .
- Murrell D (2009). On the emergent spatial structure of size-structured populations: when does self-thinning lead to a reduction in clustering?. Journal of Ecology, 97(2), 256 - 266.
- Murrell D (2009). World faces epidemiological transition.
- Ellis RJ, A K Lilley SJL, D Murrell AHCJG (2007). Frequency-dependent advantages of plasmid carriage by Pseudomonas in homogeneous and spatially structured environments.. The ISME Journal, 1, 92 - 95.
- van Veen FJF, Murrell DJ (2005). A simple explanation for universal scaling relations in food webs. Ecology, 86(12), 3258 - 3263.
- Murrell DJ (2005). Local spatial structure and predator-prey dynamics: Counterintuitive effects of prey enrichment. The American Naturalist, 166(3), 354 - 367.
- Murrell DJ, Dieckmann U, Law R (2004). On moment closures for population dynamics in continuous space. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 229(3), 421 - 432.
- Levine JM, Murrell DJ (2003). The community-level consequences of seed dispersal patterns. ANNUAL REVIEW OF ECOLOGY EVOLUTION AND SYSTEMATICS, 34, 549 - 574.
- Murrell DJ, Law R (2003). Heteromyopia and the spatial coexistence of similar competitors. Ecology Letters, 6(1), 48 - 59.
- Law R, Murrell DJ, Dieckmann U (2003). Population growth in space and time: Spatial logistic equations. Ecology, 84(1), 252 - 262.
- Murrell DJ, Purves DW, Law R (2002). Intraspecific aggregation and species coexistence.. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 17, 211 - 212.
- Rejmánek M, Murrell D, Purves D, Law R (2002). Intraspecific aggregation and species coexistence (multiple letters). Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 17(5), 209 - 211.
- Murrell D, Purves D, Law R (2002). Intraspecific aggregation and species coexistence - Response from Murrell, Purves and Law. TRENDS IN ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, 17(5), 211 - 211. doi:10.1016/S0169-5347(02)02504-1
- Murrell DJ, Travis JMJ, Dytham C (2002). The evolution of dispersal distance in spatially-structured populations. OIKOS, 97(2), 229 - 236.
- Murrell DJ, Purves DW, Law R (2001). Uniting pattern and process in plant ecology. TRENDS IN ECOLOGY & EVOLUTION, 16(10), 529 - 530.
- Murrell DJ, Law R (2000). Beetles in fragmented woodlands: a formal framework for dynamics of movement in ecological landscapes. JOURNAL OF ANIMAL ECOLOGY, 69(3), 471 - 483.
- Travis JMJ, Murrell DJ, Dytham C (1999). The evolution of density-dependent dispersal. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 266(1431), 1837 - 1842.
- Murrell DJ, Law R, Dytham C (1999). Population dynamics in heterogeneous landscapes: towards a theoretical framework.