Principal Research Scientist
My research program focuses on the ecology of predators, namely sharks and rays. The majority of research has focused on shark movement ecology to determine space use and movement patterns within various habitats and ecosystems. These data are used to define the ecology of species within the context of management and conservation efforts. Movement can play a key role in the efficacy of management and policy and exploring these questions has been a major focus of my research career. Based on my expertise I a former member of the Commonwealth Threatened Species Scientific Committee and current member of the Conservation Working Group advising the Convention on Migratory Species Sharks MOU. I serve as a scientific advisor to the Ocean Tracking Network based in Canada, and am heavily involved in the Integrated Marine Observing System Animal Tracking Facility.
  • 1994 BSc Colorado State University
  • 1995 Post Graduate Diploma University of Queensland
  • 1999 PhD University of Queensland
  • 2011 Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching
Current Research Activities
My research focuses on the movement and ecology of marine predators. Current projects include:
  • long-term monitoring of inshore predators within a dynamic coastal system
  • movement of coral reef predators in relation to environmental conditions
  • connectivity of reef habitats for mobile predator species
  • analysis of marine park zoning in the context of predator movement
  • status of reef shark populations based on baited underwater video surveys
Through these projects I aim to refine our understanding of how marine predators interact with their environment and produce outcomes relevant to the management and conservation of these species.
Expert Committees and Boards
  • Scientific Advisory Committee Member for the IMOS Australian Animal Tracking Facility
  • Scientific Advisory Committee Member for the Ocean Tracking Network
  • Review Editor for Aquatic Biology
  • Associate Editor for Animal Biotelemetry
  • Advisory Editor for Environmental Biology of Fishes
Over 135 science and technical papers in international journals. The following are a selection of recent publications.

Selected recent publications

Schlaff AM, Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA (2017) Environmental effects on space use of a common reef shark on an inshore reef. Marine Ecology Progress Series 571:169-181

Espinoza M, Heupel MR, Tobin AJ, Simpfendorfer CA (2016) Evidence of partial migration in a large coastal predator: opportunistic foraging and reproduction as key drivers? PLoS ONE 11(2): e0147608. doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0147608

Udyawer V, Simpfendorfer CA, Read M, Hamann M, Heupel MR (2016) Exploring habitat selection in sea snakes using passive acoustic monitoring and Bayesian hierarchical models. Marine Ecology Progress Series 546: 249-262

Lédée EJI, Heupel MR, Tobin AJ, Simpfendorfer CA (2015) Movements and space use of giant trevally in coral reef habitats and the importance of environmental drivers. Animal Biotelemetry 3:6 doi:10.1186/s40317-015-0024-0

Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA (2015) Long-term movement patterns of a coral reef predator. Coral Reefs 34: 679-691

Matley JK, Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA (2015) Depth and space use of leopard coralgrouper (Plectropomus leopardus) using passive acoustic tracking. Marine Ecology Progress Series 521: 201-216

Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA, Espinoza M, Smoothey A, Tobin AJ, Peddemors V (2015) Conservation challenges of sharks with continental scale migrations. Frontiers in Marine Science doi: 10.3389/fmars.2015.00012

Currey LM, Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA, Williams AJ (2014) Inferring movement patterns of a coral reef fish using oxygen and carbon isotopes in otolith carbonate. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 456: 18-25

Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA (2014) Importance of environmental and biological drivers in the presence and space use of a reef-associated shark. Marine Ecology Progress Series 496: 47-57

Heupel MR,Knip DM, Simpfendorfer CA, Dulvy NK (2014) Sizing up the ecological role of sharks as predators. Marine Ecology Progress Series 495: 291-298

Chin A, Tobin AJ, Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA (2013) Population structure and residency patterns of the blacktip reef shark Carcharhinus melanopterus in turbid coastal environments. Journal of Fish Biology 82: 1192-1210

Knip DM, Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA (2012) Evaluating marine protected areas for the conservation of tropical coastal sharks. Biological Conservation 148: 200-209

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