Heupel, Michelle

Dr Michelle Heupel

Principal Research Scientist

Contact Information

Phone (07) 4753 4205
Int +61-7-4753 4205
Email m.heupel@aims.gov.au


My research program focuses on the ecology of predators, namely sharks and rays. The majority of research has focused on shark movement ecology to determine space use and movement patterns within various habitats and ecosystems. These data are used to define the ecology of species within the context of management and conservation efforts. Movement can play a key role in the efficacy of management and policy and exploring these questions has been a major focus of my research career. Based on my expertise I a former member of the Commonwealth Threatened Species Scientific Committee and current member of the Conservation Working Group advising the Convention on Migratory Species Sharks MOU. I serve as a scientific advisor to the Ocean Tracking Network based in Canada, and am heavily involved in the Integrated Marine Observing System Animal Tracking Facility.


1994 BSc Colorado State University
1995 Post Graduate Diploma University of Queensland
1999 PhD University of Queensland
2011 Graduate Certificate in Tertiary Teaching


My research focuses on the movement and ecology of marine predators. Current projects include: 
long-term monitoring of inshore predators within a dynamic coastal system
movement of coral reef predators in relation to environmental conditions
connectivity of reef habitats for mobile predator species
analysis of marine park zoning in the context of predator movement
status of reef shark populations based on baited underwater video surveys
Through these projects I aim to refine our understanding of how marine predators interact with their environment and produce outcomes relevant to the management and conservation of these species.


Member Sustainable Fisheries Expert Panel for QLD Fisheries
Member Independent Shark Advisory Panel for Western Australia
Member IMOS Science and Technology Advisory Committee
Scientific Advisory Committee Member for the IMOS Animal Tracking Facility
Scientific Advisory Committee Member for the Ocean Tracking Network
Associate Editor for Animal Biotelemetry
Advisory Editor for Environmental Biology of Fishes


Heupel MR, Papastamatiou YP, Espioza M, Green ME, Simpfendorfer CA (2019) Reef shark science – Key questions and future directions. Frontiers in Marine Science 6:12. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00012

Martins APB, Heupel MR, Chin A, Simpfendorfer CA (2018) Batoid nurseries: definition, use and importance. Marine Ecology Progress Series 595:253-267

Heupel MR, Lédée EJ, Simpfendorfer CA (2018) Telemetry reveals spatial separation of co-occurring reef sharks. Marine Ecology Progress Series 589:179-92

Schlaff AM, Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA (2017) Environmental effects on space use of a common reef shark on an inshore reef. Marine Ecology Progress Series 571:169-181

Espinoza M, Heupel MR, Tobin AJ, Simpfendorfer CA (2016) Evidence of partial migration in a large coastal predator: opportunistic foraging and reproduction as key drivers? PLoS ONE 11(2): e0147608. doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0147608

Udyawer V, Simpfendorfer CA, Read M, Hamann M, Heupel MR (2016) Exploring habitat selection in sea snakes using passive acoustic monitoring and Bayesian hierarchical models. Marine Ecology Progress Series 546:249-262

Lédée EJI, Heupel MR, Tobin AJ, Simpfendorfer CA (2015) Movements and space use of giant trevally in coral reef habitats and the importance of environmental drivers. Animal Biotelemetry 3:6 doi:10.1186/s40317-015-0024-0

Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA (2015) Long-term movement patterns of a coral reef predator. Coral Reefs 34:679-691

Matley JK, Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA (2015) Depth and space use of leopard coralgrouper (Plectropomus leopardus) using passive acoustic tracking. Marine Ecology Progress Series 521:201-216

Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA, Espinoza M, Smoothey A, Tobin AJ, Peddemors V (2015) Conservation challenges of sharks with continental scale migrations. Frontiers in Marine Science doi: 10.3389/fmars.2015.00012

Heupel MR,Knip DM, Simpfendorfer CA, Dulvy NK (2014) Sizing up the ecological role of sharks as predators. Marine Ecology Progress Series 495: 291-298

Chin A, Tobin AJ, Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA (2013) Population structure and residency patterns of the blacktip reef shark Carcharhinus melanopterus in turbid coastal environments. Journal of Fish Biology 82:1192-1210

Knip DM, Heupel MR, Simpfendorfer CA (2012) Evaluating marine protected areas for the conservation of tropical coastal sharks. Biological Conservation 148:200-209