Asia Murphy


PhD student in Ecology. fiction writer. photographer.


The Science

a gif showing a fawn sniffing a camera

I use cameras to spy on wildlife. My research is focused on answering questions like:

  • Where are species present and why?

  • How many individuals are there in a population?

  • What strategies do species use to coexist together?

I firmly believe in building research capacity in other countries and hope to use camera traps and other noninvasive tools to further our knowledge of and ability to conserve threatened species across the world.


The Fiction

Gray: a healer and witch-hunter that has nightmares about the last time a mysterious plague swept the land.

Naj: a sailor who is roped into a promise and must return her people's dead to their island home while avoiding certain death by vengeful gang leader.

Shi Veisya: the Goddess' right hand, who has awakened in blood and snow on the eve of apocalypse.

A flower dripping tar in the middle of a massacre. Metal ruins from a long-forgotten civilization. A land dying a slow death.

This is the world of Red Sun.

Red Sun is my current work-in-progress, an ecologically-inspired fantasy novel. Check out my patreon for updates!


The Pictures

While I'm out doing field work I get a lot of chances to take pictures. Check out my etsy shop for prints, calendars, and more!

Projects

How Do Carnivore Interactions & Distribution Influence Fawn Distribution & Survival?

For baby deer, the forest is a landscape varying in safety, changing depending on the habitat, time of day, and the predator that they are avoiding. Throw in more than one predator and you have a very complicated chessboard to navigate!

Using three years of camera trap data at three state forests in PA, I hope to figure out how fawns use habitat, space, and time to avoid being eaten by black bears, coyotes, and bobcats. Check out #whoseatingbambi for tweets!


How many fosa are there in Madagascar's largest protected area?

Madagascar's unique carnivore family (Eupleridae) is severely understudied. For many species, population estimates are lacking, which makes it very difficult to correctly determine how threatened they are.

Using data from fifteen surveys across seven sites, we found that there is likely about 1,000 adult fosa in the protected area (as little as 600 and as many as 1,800). This means that the Masoala-Makira protected area is home to a significant number of the fosa left in the world.


Can we use extra camera trap data to provide new information for little-studied species?

Camera traps are awesome because they take pictures of EVERYTHING that walks in front of the camera. We got thousands and thousands of pictures of birds, small mammals, and a (mainly) Madagascar-exclusive insectivore group called tenrecs.

Using this data we found that we were less likely to detect many of the bird species if we saw a lot of feral cats in the area, and that red forest rats (adorably rusty-colored pudgy rodents) were detected more often further from the forest edge.


Are lemur densities different between undisturbed and disturbed forests?

In addition to running fifteen camera trap surveys in Masoala-Makira, we ran lemur surveys on forest paths that we walked night and day. All told, we got over a thousand observations of lemurs, including critically endangered species like silky sifaka and indri, while walking over 1,000 kilometers!

We provided the very first statistically-rigorous population estimates of three species for the region, and found that you were less likely to observe lemurs in very disturbed forests compared to undisturbed forests.

publications

2019

Murphy, A., Diefenbach, D.R., Ternent, M., Lovallo, M., and Miller, D. In prep. Landscapes of fear in a changing world: habitat use of three carnivores and their shared prey in an agroforest landscape.

Mpemba, H., Fan, Y., Murphy, A., Heng, B., and Jiang, G. 2019. First camera trap based evidence of grey wolf Canis lupus in the Hanma National Nature Reserve, Inner Mongolia, China. Pakistan Journal of Zoology, 50:0 (pdf).

Davis, C.L., et al. 2019. Ecological correlates of the spatial co-occurrence of sympatric mammalian carnivores worldwide. Ecology Letters 21:1401-1412 (pdf).

2018

Murphy, A., Kelly, M.J., Karpanty, S.M., Andrianjakarivelo, V., and Farris, Z.J. 2018. Using camera traps to investigate spatial co-occurrence between exotic predators and native prey species: a case study from northeastern Madagascar. Journal of Zoology doi:10.1111/jzo.12645 (pdf).

Murphy, A., Gerber, B.G., Kelly, M.J., Karpanty, S.M., Ratelolahy, F., and Farris, Z.J. 2018. Making the most of sparse data to estimate the density of rare and threatened species: a case study with a little- studied Malagasy carnivore (fosa, Cryptoprocta ferox). Animal Conservation doi: 10.1111/acv.12420 (pdf).

2017

Murphy, A., Ferguson, B., and Gardner, C.J. 2017. Recent estimates of ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) population declines are methodologically flawed and misleading. International Journal of Primatology 38:623-628 (pdf).

Murphy, A., Farris, Z.J., Karpanty, S., Kelly, M.J., Miles, K.A., Ratelolahy, F., Rahariniaina, R.P., and Golden, C.D. 2017. Using camera traps to examine landscape and dynamic occupancy trends of ground-dwelling birds in the rainforest of northeastern Madagascar. Bird Conservation International 1-14. doi:10.1017/S0959270917000107 (pdf).

Murphy, A., Goodman, S.M., Farris, Z.J., Karpanty, S.M., Andrianjakarivelo, V., and Kelly, M.J. 2017. Landscape trends in small mammal occupancy in the Makira-Masoala protected areas, northeastern Madagascar. Journal of Mammalogy 98:272-282 (pdf).

Farris, Z.J., Kelly, M.J., Karpanty, S., Murphy, A., Ratelolahy, F., Andrianjakarivelo, V., and Holmes, C. 2017. The times they are a changin’: Multi-year surveys reveal exotics replace native carnivores at a Madagascar rainforest site. Biological Conservation 206:320-328 (pdf).

2016

Murphy, A., Farris, Z.J., Karpanty, S., Ratelolahy, F., and Kelly, M.J. 2016. Estimating encounter rates and density of three lemur species in northeastern Madagascar. International Journal of Primatology 37:371-389 (pdf).

Januchowski-Hartley, S.R., Hilborn, A., Crocker, K.C., and Murphy, A. 2016. Scientists stand with Standing Rock. Science 353:1506 (pdf).

2015

Farris, Z.J., Boone, H.M., Karpanty, S., Murphy, A., Ratelolahy, F., Andrianjakarivelo, V., and Kelly, M.J. 2015. Feral cats and the fitoaty: first population assessment of the black forest cat in Madagascar’s rainforests. Journal of Mammalogy 97:518-525 (pdf).

Farris, Z.J., Gerber, B.D., Karpanty, S., Murphy, A., Andrianjakarivelo, V., Ratelolahy, F. and Kelly, M.J. 2015. When carnivores roam: temporal patterns and overlap among Madagascar’s native and exotic carnivores. Journal of Zoology 296:45-57 (pdf).

Farris, Z.J., Golden, C.D., Karpanty, S., Murphy, A., Stauffer, D., Ratelolahy, F., Andrianjakarivelo, V., Holmes, C.M., and Kelly, M.J. 2015. Hunting, exotic carnivores, and habitat loss: anthropogenic effects on a native carnivore community, Madagascar. PLoS ONE 10:e0136456 (pdf).