KAREN MURCHIE

Chair of the Larkin Award – since 2010

 

Occupation: Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, College of The Bahamas, Freeport, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas

Expertise: My research interests are focused around the biology and ecophysiology of marine and freshwater fishes at both the basic and applied level. In particular I’m interested in energy dynamics at various ecological levels, the spatial ecology of individuals, and stress physiology in response to human activities and environmental changes. My aim is to undertake a research and conservation approach that embraces the complexity of our environment and the human dimension to further understand fisheries.

Credentials and Affiliations: Ph.D. in Biology, Carleton University, 2010; M.Sc. in Biology, University of Waterloo, 2002; B.Sc. in Biology (Honours), University of Waterloo, 1999; American Fisheries Society; Bahamas National Trust

Hobby/Pastime: Stand-up-paddleboarding, snorkelling, photography

 

INTERVIEW WITH KAREN MURCHIE

Q: Why did you enter the field of fisheries and aquatic science?

KM: I have always loved the outdoors but in the 3rd year of my undergraduate education at University of Waterloo, I took a field course in Discovery Bay, Jamaica that changed my life. I was snorkelling and had a fairy basslet befriend me and it swam everywhere I went. From that point on I decided I was going to study fish and I haven’t looked back. Fish are amazing creatures and I love studying and enjoying their behaviour.

 

Q: What motivated you to pursue a career in academia?

KM: I love being able to share my passion for learning with my students and also still be able to actively participate in research. I have some creative freedoms in this position that I really enjoy.

 

Q: What brought you to The College of the Bahamas, and how long have you been working there?

KM: My PhD research focused on using bonefish (Albula vulpes) as a model species to understand how animals make a living in the dynamic flats environment. Since my research took place in Eleuthera, The Bahamas, I quickly became attached to the beauty of the environment and the citizens of the country. When a position came up at the College of The Bahamas, I applied and accepted a position in 2011.

 

Q: What are some of your major focuses/projects currently underway?

KM: I continue to focus on bonefish ecology as this sport fish brings in over $141 million a year to the Bahamian economy. One of my current projects aims to determine spawning locations around Grand Bahama – with the goal of understanding not only the biology of the species, but the potential threats to these critical habitats.

 

Q: How long have you been a CARS member?

KM: 15 years (I believe – since I’ve been a member of AFS)

 

Q: What role does CARS play in your work, or how does your work influence your involvement with CARS?

KM: Given that I live and work outside of Canada, being a member of CARS allows me to keep connected with the fisheries issues in the country and also the people working on them.

 

Q: What brought you be the Chair of the Larkin Award?

KM: I have been lucky enough to win the Larkin Award along with the J Frances Allen Scholarship, and so it is a way for me to give back by serving as a chair for the Larkin and also acting a judge (in the past) for the J Frances Allen award.

 

Q: What do you see as the most important challenge faced by Canadian (or worldwide) aquatic systems and their fisheries today?

KM: I think one of the biggest challenges is to get the general public to recognize the importance of aquatic systems and their communities. We need to continue to strive to connect with citizens who are not biologists and get them to care about the environment.

 

SELECT PUBLICATIONS:

Adams, A and K.J. Murchie.  2015.  Recreational fisheries as conservation tools for mangrove habitats.  Pages 43-56 in K.J. Murchie and P.P. Daneshgar (Eds.), Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Mangroves as Fish Habitat. Mazatlán, Mexico.  American Fisheries Society, Symposium 83, Bethesda, Maryland.

 

Cooke, S.J., and K.J. Murchie.  2015.  Status of aboriginal, commercial and recreational inland fisheries in North America:  past, present and future.  Fisheries Management and Ecology.  22:1-13.

 

Murchie, K.J., S.J. Cooke, A.J. Danylchuk, and C.D. Suski.  2011.  Estimates of field activity and metabolic rates of bonefish (Albula vulpes) in coastal marine habitats using acoustic tri-axial accelerometer transmitters and intermittent-flow respirometry.  Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 396:147-155.