Amy L. Moran

Associate Professor

Contact Information

235 Long Hall
Phone: 864-656-1488
FAX: 864-656-0435


  • Ph.D. University of Oregon, 1997
  • Bates College, 1990

Research Interests

  • Despite the fundamental importance of larvae in the life cycles of organisms, the factors controlling larval success or failure in the ocean are one of the great ‘black boxes’ of marine science. The majority of marine animals have a larval stage of development that is free-living, long-lived, and intermediate between the egg and the adult stages. Human activities in the sea are triggering a rapid and unprecedented decline in the natural resources of the ocean; for many species the impact of human activities and environmental degradation on the adult life history stages are fairly well understood, but very little is known of the fate of larval stages. I study the physiological and morphological adaptations of larvae and juveniles to different environmental conditions, and the implications of these for larval survival, dispersal, and recruitment into adult populations. My research also focuses on identifying the fundamental evolutionary and ecological forces that have driven the tremendous diversity of life history modes seen today among marine organisms.
  • Research in my laboratory currently has three primary branches:
    (i) understanding the physiological and ecological factors that are important to larval and juvenile survival and growth in the ocean
    (ii) determining the role of physical dispersal of planktonic, free-living larvae in connecting populations of benthic marine species, particularly those which are endangered or of commercial interest
    (iii) integrating the two previous branches with phylogenetic data and information from the fossil record to form a historical perspective on how life histories have evolved in a broad spectrum of marine taxa.
  • Because free-living larvae are found in almost every marine phylum, work in my laboratory utilizes a wide range of organisms including molluscs, echinoderms, and polychaetes. We also study larvae of related organisms that develop in very different environments, from tropical seas to the Antarctic Ocean.

Selected Publications

  • Moran, A.L. 2004. Egg size evolution in tropical American bivalves: the fossil record and the comparative method. Evolution 58: 2718-2733.
  • Marko, P.B., S.C. Lee, A. Rice, G. Harper, T. Fitzhenry, J. McAlister and A.L. Moran. 2004. Product mislabeling in a reef fish fishery. Nature 430:39-40.
  • Moran, A.L. and D.T. Manahan. 2004. Physiological recovery from prolonged starvation in larvae of the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 306:17-36.
  • Moran, A.L. and D.T. Manahan. 2003. Energy metabolism during larval development of green and white abalone, Haliotis fulgens and H. sorenseni. Biological Bulletin204:270-277.
  • Moran, A.L. and R.B. Emlet. 2001. Offspring size and hatchling performance of an intertidal gastropod under variable field conditions. Ecology 82:1597-1612.