Samantha Munroe

Dr Samantha Munroe

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD (as Co-Supervisor) - email supervisor to discuss availability.

I am an ecologist who specializes in stable isotope analysis. I enjoy studying the diet and movement of animals, the distribution patterns of plants, and try to better understand their role in the environment. I have had amazing opportunities to study both marine and land species, including sharks, bony fish, prawns, shrubs, and grass. In my current role at the University of Adelaide, I design ecosystem observation programs for the country’s largest environmental monitoring agency, the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN). I help create advanced applications and databases that enable ecological research, conservation, and management.

My primary area of expertise is stable isotope analysis. Stable isotopes are naturally occurring alternative forms of elements like carbon and nitrogen, which are distinguished by their different molecular weights. They are an amazing tool that let us trace the flow of nutrients up the food chain, or track the migration of fish, birds, and insects across entire continents and oceans. Using isotopes, I have studied the habitat use and diet of sharks on the Great Barrier Reef, traced the movement patterns of prawns, and mapped the influence of climate on grass and shrub distribution across Australia. My other key research interests include species distribution modeling, animal tracking, and food webs. 

My current projects examine the climate and soil conditions that control the distribution of warm-season (aka C4) and cool-season (aka C3) plants. My goal is to create vegetation maps of Australia that predict the distrubtion n of these species across the country and into the future. I also plan to build δ13C leaf isoscape, a map that predicts of carbon isotope ratios of plants at a continental scale. 

I also really enjoy communicating my work to the public. I have been lucky enough to be selected for the 2021-2022 of Superstars of STEM, and organisation that aims to smash society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the public visibility of women in STEM. If you are interested in having me speak with your school or community group about my research or just what it is like to be scientist, drop me a line. Links to a few of my blogs and news articles can be found here:

Surviving the 'Post-docalypse'

Just what is an isotope? And how can we use it to unlock the secrets of deep-water sharks?

Can buying up fishing licences save Australia's sharks?

Queensland's small sharks are 'homebodies', research finds

Prawn chemical fingerprints identify human influences in urban coastal habitats


                         Hear about my job in science, in under 60 seconds!
  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2018 Postdoctoral Research Fellow University of Adelaide
    2015 - 2017 Postdoctoral Research Fellow Griffith University
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2019 Award AMP Tomorrow Maker AMP Foundation Australia
    2016 Research Award Save Our Seas Foundation Small Grant Award Save Our Seas Foundation Switzerland
    2015 Award Queensland Fresh Science ECR winner Fresh Science Australia
    2012 Research Award Joyce W. Vickery Scientific Research Fund Linnaean Society of NSW Australia
    2012 Research Award Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Science for Management Award Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority Australia
    2011 Scholarship James Cook University International Scholarship James Cook University Australia
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2011 - 2015 James Cook University Australia PhD
    2006 - 2010 Acadia University Canada Bachelor of Science (B.Sc. Honours)
  • Research Interests

  • Journals

    Year Citation
    2021 Munroe, S. E. M., McInerney, F. A., Andrae, J., Welti, N., Guerin, G. R., Leitch, E., . . . Sparrow, B. (2021). The photosynthetic pathways of plant species surveyed in Australia’s national terrestrial monitoring network. Scientific Data, 8(1), 97-1-97-10.
    2021 Munroe, S., Guerin, G., Saleeba, T., Martín‐Forés, I., Blanco‐Martin, B., Sparrow, B., & Tokmakoff, A. (2021). ausplotsR
    : An R package for rapid extraction and analysis of vegetation and soil data collected by Australia's Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network. Journal of Vegetation Science, 32(3).

    2020 Sparrow, B. D., Edwards, W., Munroe, S. E. M., Wardle, G. M., Guerin, G. R., Bastin, J. -F., . . . Lowe, A. J. (2020). Effective ecosystem monitoring requires a multi-scaled approach.. Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, 95(6), 1706-1719.
    DOI Scopus6 WoS6
    2020 Munroe, S. E. M., Rigby, C. L., & Hussey, N. E. (2020). Evidence for inter- and intraspecific trophic niche separation among deepwater elasmobranchs on the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. MARINE ECOLOGY PROGRESS SERIES, 636, 107-121.
    2019 Heupel, M. R., Munroe, S. E. M., Lédée, E. J. I., Chin, A., & Simpfendorfer, C. A. (2019). Interspecific interactions, movement patterns and habitat use in a diverse coastal shark assemblage. Marine Biology, 166(6), 68-1-68-17.
    DOI Scopus9 WoS10
    2019 Guerin, G. R., Martin Fores, I., Munroe, S. E. M., Sparrow, B., & Lowe, A. J. (2019). Alien plants alter the growth form ratio and structure of Australian grasslands. APPLIED VEGETATION SCIENCE, 22(4), 582-592.
    DOI Scopus2 WoS2
    2018 Munroe, S. E., Coates-Marnane, J., Burford, M., & Fry, B. (2018). A benthic bioindicator reveals distinct land and ocean–based influences in an urbanized coastal embayment. PLoS ONE, 13(10), e0205408-1-e0205408-28.
    DOI Scopus2
    2018 Bird, C. S., Veríssimo, A., Magozzi, S., Abrantes, K. G., Aguilar, A., Al-Reasi, H., . . . Trueman, C. N. (2018). A global perspective on the trophic geography of sharks. Nature Ecology and Evolution, 2(2), 299-305.
    DOI Scopus57 WoS52 Europe PMC7
    2018 Munroe, S. E., Fry, B., & Olley, J. (2018). Underutilized biogeochemical tracers distinguish invertebrate populations in a complex river system. Limnology and Oceanography: Methods, 16(7), 444-458.
    DOI Scopus1 WoS1
    2016 Munroe, S., Simpfendorfer, C., & Heupel, M. (2016). Variation in blacktip shark movement patterns in a tropical coastal bay. ENVIRONMENTAL BIOLOGY OF FISHES, 99(4), 377-389.
    DOI Scopus6 WoS6
    2015 Espinoza, M., Munroe, S. E., Clarke, T. M., Fisk, A. T., & Wehrtmann, I. S. (2015). Feeding ecology of common demersal elasmobranch species in the Pacific coast of Costa Rica inferred from stable isotope and stomach content analyses. JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL MARINE BIOLOGY AND ECOLOGY, 470, 12-25.
    DOI Scopus30 WoS25
    2015 Munroe, S. E. M., Heupel, M. R., Fisk, A. T., & Simpfendorfer, C. A. (2015). Geographic and temporal variation in the trophic ecology of a small-bodied shark: evidence of resilience to environmental change. CANADIAN JOURNAL OF FISHERIES AND AQUATIC SCIENCES, 72(3), 343-351.
    DOI Scopus9 WoS9
    2015 Munroe, S. E. M., Heupel, M. R., Fisk, A. T., Logan, M., & Simpfendorfer, C. A. (2015). Regional movement patterns of a small-bodied shark revealed by stable-isotope analysis. Journal of Fish Biology, 86(5), 1567-1586.
    DOI Scopus11 WoS11 Europe PMC3
    2015 Munroe, S. E. M., Simpfendorfer, C. A., Moloney, J., & Heupel, M. R. (2015). Nearshore movement ecology of a medium-bodied shark, the creek whaler Carcharhinus fitzroyensis. Animal Biotelemetry, 3(1).
    DOI Scopus4
    2014 Munroe, S. E. M., Simpfendorfer, C. A., & Heupel, M. R. (2014). Habitat and space use of an abundant nearshore shark, Rhizoprionodon taylori. Marine and Freshwater Research, 65(11), 959-968.
    DOI Scopus18 WoS17
    2014 Munroe, S. E. M., Simpfendorfer, C. A., & Heupel, M. R. (2014). Defining shark ecological specialisation: Concepts, context, and examples. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 24(1), 317-331.
    DOI Scopus26 WoS26
    2011 Munroe, S., Avery, T., Shutler, D., & Dadswell, M. (2011). Spatial attachment-site preferences of macroectoparasites on Atlantic sturgeons Acipenser oxyrinchus in Minas Basin, Bay of Fundy, Canada. Journal of Parasitology, 97(3), 377-383.
    DOI Scopus7 WoS7 Europe PMC5
    Munroe, S., Guerin, G., Saleeba, T., Martín-Forés, I., Blanco-Martin, B., Sparrow, B., & Tokmakoff, A. (n.d.). ausplotsR: An R package for rapid extraction and analysis of vegetation and soil data collected by Australia’s Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network.
    Munroe, S., McInerney, F. A., Guerin, G., Andrae, J., Welti, N., Caddy-Retalic, S., . . . Sparrow, B. (n.d.). Plant families exhibit unique geographic trends in C4 richness and cover.
    Martín-Forés, I., Guerin, G., Munroe, S., & Sparrow, B. (n.d.). Applying conservation reserve design strategies to define ecosystem monitoring priorities.
  • Book Chapters

    Year Citation
    2019 Munroe, S. E., Meyer, L., & Heithaus, M. (2019). Dietary Biomarkers in Shark Foraging and Movement Ecology. In C. Simpfendorfer, J. Carrier, & M. Heithaus (Eds.), Shark Research: Emerging Technologies and Applications for the Field and Laboratory (pp. 22 pages). Boca Rayton, FL; USA: CRC Press.
  • Conference Items

    Year Citation
    2019 Irvine, K., Sparrow, B., O'Neill, S., Guerin, G. R., Tokmakoff, A., Munroe, S., . . . Lawrence, R. (2019). Wild Orchid Watch: creating a citizen science program. Poster session presented at the meeting of Ecological Society of Australia conference, 'ESA19: Science for Practical Solutions'. Launceston, Tasmania.
  • Report for External Bodies

    Year Citation
    2019 Munroe, S., & Huveneers, C. (2019). Monitoring the presence and residency of sharks at key locations
    off Victor Harbor (Encounter Marine Park)
  • Datasets

    Year Citation
    2020 Munroe, S., McInerney, F., Andrae, J., Welti, N., Guerin, G., Emrys, L., . . . Sparrow, B. (2020). The Photosynthetic Pathways of Plant Species surveyed in TERN Ecosystem Surveillance Plots.
  • Software

    Year Citation
    2020 Guerin, G., Saleeba, T., Munroe, S., Blanco-Martin, B., Martin-Fores, I., & Tokmakoff, A. (2020). ''ausplotsR' - TERN AusPlots analysis package (Version 1.2) [R statistical computing environment]. The Comprehensive R Archive Network (CRAN).
    2020 Guerin, G., Saleeba, T., Munroe, S., Blanco-Martin, B., Martín-Forés, I., & Tokmakoff, A. (2020). ausplotsR: TERN AusPlots Analysis Package (Archive v1.2) (Version v1.2) [Computer Software]. Zenodo.

I have lectured in Aquatic Ecology, Ecology and Conservation of Communities, Soils and Landscapes, Frontiers in Marine Science, and Food Production in a Future Climate III

  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2021 Co-Supervisor Comparing the past and present floral communities of Naracoorte Caves, South Australia. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Rachel Amber Atkins
    2021 Co-Supervisor Measurement and Analysis of Nitrogen Isotopes to Identify Movement of Nitrogen in Soil by Australian Native Acacia Species Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Patrick David Timmins
  • Other Supervision Activities

    Date Role Research Topic Location Program Supervision Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 - ongoing Co-Supervisor Carbon isotopic tools for determining the photosynthetic pathway of floral communities University of Adelaide Department of Earth Sciences Honours Rachel Atkins
    2019 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Direct measurement of soil microplastic concentration using MIR spectroscopy University of Adelaide School of Agriculture, Food, and Wine Honours Patrick Timmins
  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2020 - 2015 Council Oceania Chondrichthyan Society Oceania Chondrichthyan Society Australia
    2018 - ongoing Member Australian Marine Science Association (AMSA)-South Australia Australian Marine Science Association Australia
  • Editorial Boards

    Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country
    2018 - ongoing Editor PLoS One PLoS One United States
  • Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow
  • Phone: 88318376
  • Email:
  • Campus: Waite
  • Building: John Davies
  • Org Unit: School of Biological Sciences

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