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Biological Sciences
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Dr Rebecca J Morris MA(Cantab), PhD

Associate Professor in Ecology, Principal Investigator (Community Ecology)

Dr Rebecca J Morris's photo

Dr Becky Morris joined Biological Sciences in November 2016 as a Royal Society University Research Fellow bringing expertise in experimental community ecology and tropical ecology.

Quantifying the structure, dynamics and functioning of ecological networks in natural and human-modified landscapes.

Career History

2018-present: Associate Professor in Ecology. University of Southampton, UK.
2016-present: Senior Research Associate. Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK.
2016-2017: Royal Society University Research Fellow. Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, UK.
Royal Society University Research Fellow. Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK.
Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellow. Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, UK.
Post-doctoral Research Associate. University of Bristol, UK.
Post-doctoral Research Associate. NERC Centre for Population Biology, Silwood Park, Imperial College London, UK.

Academic Qualifications

PhD in Community Ecology. Imperial College London, UK.
BA(Hons) Natural Sciences (Zoology). University of Cambridge, UK.

Research interests

I lead a research group quantifying the structure, dynamics and functioning of ecological communities, and investigating how they respond to environmental change. I have a long-standing interest in transferring ecological theory into the field to test predictions about how ecological mechanisms, including density- and trait-mediated indirect interactions, structure networks. I use a range of empirical and quantitative approaches, particularly rigorous, large-scale manipulative experiments. Much of my work involves insects, primarily herbivorous insects and their parasitoids and host plants, and takes place in natural and human-modified tropical rainforests.

I am leading a socio-ecological collaboration promoting the resilience of subsistence farming to El Niño events in Papua New Guinea. I am also a principal investigator in the LOMBOK consortium, working at the Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) Project Site in Borneo. We are combining surveys of biodiversity and biogeochemistry along a gradient of forest modification with in situ manipulative experiments, to gain a mechanistic understanding links between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

My research is funded by the Royal Society, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Department for International Development (DFID), through the NERC Human Modified Tropical Forest (HMTF) Research Programme and the NERC/DFID “Understanding the impacts of the current El Niño event” research programme.

PhD Supervision

Chris Terry (Primary Supervisor): University of Oxford. Trophic Interaction Modifications in Ecological Networks. Funded by NERC Oxford Environmental Research Doctoral Training Partnership.
Mirjam Hazenbosch: University of Oxford. Sustainable land use for smallholder farming communities in Papua New Guinea. Funded by BBSRC Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership.

Research group

Ecology and Evolution

Affiliate research group

Plants and Food Security

Research project(s)

The effects of climate change on the distribution, biodiversity and ecosystem services of tropical montane forests

Biodiversity, Ecosystem Functions and Policy Across a Tropical Forest Modification Gradient

LOMBOK (Land-use Options for Maintaining BiOdiversity and eKosystem functions) is part of the HMTF (Human Modified Tropical Forests) programme, a multidisciplinary consortium of researchers investigating biodiversity and the services it provides in human-modified tropical forests.

Promoting resilience of subsistence farming to El Niño events in Papua New Guinea: an integrated socio-ecological approach

The project aim is to improve the environmental and socio-economic evidence of the impacts of the 2015 El Niño event on our study site and suggest strategies to improve the resilience of PNG subsistence farming to future extreme weather events, ultimately enhancing societal well-being and local development.

The importance of rare species in tropical forests

The project aim is to quantify the role of rare species in community structure and functioning, by investigating the species richness, host specificity and community structure of insects on rare tropical forest plants.

Enhancing ecosystem functioning to improve resilience of subsistence farming in Papua New Guinea

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Associate Editor, Journal of Animal Ecology

Editorial Board, Biotropica

Member of British Ecological Society

Member of Association of Tropical Biology and Conservation



Module co-ordinator & lecturer

BIOL3070 Tropical Ecology Field course (Belize)
BIOL3053 Biodiversity and Conservation


BIOL2004 Pure and Applied Population Ecology
BIOL3009 Applied Ecology


Dr Rebecca J Morris
School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Environmental and Life Sciences
Life Sciences Building 85
University of Southampton
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 85/6041

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