Environmental Initiatives



Steve Munch is on the research faculty of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is a fisheries ecologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Service working on basic and applied problems in ecology and present-day evolution. After obtaining a Ph.D. in coastal oceanography from Stony Brook University in 2002, Munch was a postdoctoral fellow with the Center for Stock Assessment Research and the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics at UCSC. In 2005 Munch returned to Stony Brook as a faculty member in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

Munch took his current position as a fisheries ecologist with NOAA in 2010. He continues to serve Stony Brook University as program faculty in the Department of Ecology and Evolution and the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

He is widely recognized for his work on the evolution of harvested populations. With David Conover and colleagues, Munch conducted the first long-term empirical demonstration of the evolutionary effects of catch selection on fish. This work demonstrated that significant (40 percent) reductions in fisheries yield could arise in only several generations as a result of size-selective catch of fish (e.g., catching the biggest fish). Munch frequently provides analytical support to environmental organizations to further conservation planning and advocacy. Over the past decade, he has worked as a consultant with The Nature Conservancy, The Ocean Conservancy, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and other high-profile U.S. environmental non-governmental organizations in order to advance the designation of contaminated water bodies on California’s Impaired Waters list and promote science-based recovery plans for threatened species.



2002 Ph.D. Coastal Oceanography, State University of New York at Stony Brook
    - Dissertation: Evolution of growth rate in Menidia menidia: bioenergetics, life history theory, and implications for management.
1997 M.S. Marine Sciences, State University of New York at Stony Brook
    - Thesis:   Recruitment   dynamics   of   bluefish,   Pomatomus   saltatrix   on   the continental shelf from Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod, 1973-1995.
1993 B.S. Biology and B.A. Art Studio, magna cum laude, State University of New York at Binghamton


2010 Present: Fisheries Ecologist, Fisheries Ecology Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, Santa Cruz, CA.
2005 2010: Assistant/Associate Professor, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY.
2002 2005: Post-doctoral research fellow, Center for Stock Assessment Research, UC Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA.
1999 2001: Consultant in ecological risk assessment. Applied Biomathematics, Setauket, NY.
1993 1994: Field and laboratory technician, California Department of Fish and Game, Stockton, Ca.


2007 2009: Advisory Board, Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Research, SBU
2006 2008: Multi-species Technical Committee , ASMFC
2005 2007: Marine Protected Areas Science Integration Panel, NOAA


• Clarke, LM, Munch, SB, Thorrold, SR and Conover, DO 2010. High connectivity among locally adapted populations of a marine fish (Menidia menidia). Ecology, 91: 3526-3537.

• Perez, K.O. and Munch, S.B. 2010. Extreme selection in the early lives of fishes. Evolution, 64:2450-2457.

• Marshall, D.J., Heppell, S.S., Munch, S.B., and Warner, R.R. 2010. The relationship between maternal phenotype and offspring quality: Do older mothers really produce the best offspring? Ecology, 91: 2862-2873.

• Munch, S.B. and S. Salinas 2009. Latitudinal variation in lifespan within species is explained by the metabolic theory of ecology. PNAS, 106: 13860-13864.

• Conover, D.O., S.A. Arnott, and S.B. Munch. 2009. Reversal of evolutionary downsizing caused by selective harvest of large fish. Proceedings of the Royal Society B., 276:2015-202.

• Munch, S.B. and A. Kottas 2009. A Bayesian modeling approach for determining productivity regimes and their characteristics. Ecol. Appl., 19:527-537.

• Clarke, L.M., Walther, B.D., Munch, S.B., Thorrold, S.R., and Conover, D.O. 2009. Chemical signatures in the otoliths of a coastal marine fish, Menidia menidia, from the northeastern United States: spatial and temporal differences. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 384:261-271.

• Munch, S.B. and L. Clarke 2008. A Bayesian approach to identifying mixtures from otolith chemistry data.Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 65: 2742-2751.

• Vogel, E. R., S. B. Munch, and C. H. Janson. 2007. Understanding escalated aggression over food resources in white-faced capuchin monkeys. Animal Behavior, 74:71-80.

• Conover, D.O. and S.B. Munch. 2007 Faith, evolution, and the burden of proof. Fisheries, 32: 90-91.

• Munch, S.B. and M. Mangel 2006. Evaluation of mortality trajectories in evolutionary demography. PNAS, 103: 16604-16607.
• D.O. Conover, L.M. Clarke, S.B. Munch, and G.N.Wagner 2006. Spatial and temporal scales of adaptive divergence in marine fishes and the implications for conservation. Journal of Fish Biology, 69 (suppl. C): 21-47.

• Walsh, M.R., S.B. Munch, S. Chiba, and D.O. Conover. 2006. Maladaptive changes in multiple traits caused by fishing: impediments to population recovery. Ecology Letters, 9:142-148.

• Munch, S.B., T. Kottas and M. Mangel. 2005. Bayesian non-parametric analysis of stock-recruitment relationships.Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 62:1808-1821.

• Mangel, M. and S.B. Munch 2005. A life-history perspective on short- and long-term consequences of growth compensation. American Nature, 166 (6): E155-E176.

• Munch, S.B., M.L. Snover, G. Watters, M. Mangel. 2005. A unified treatment of top-down and bottom-up control of reproduction in populations. Ecology Letters, 8: 691-695.

• Munch, S.B., M. Walsh, and D.O. Conover. 2005. Harvest selection, genetic correlations, and recruitment: one less thing to worry about? Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 62:802-810.

• Conover, D.O., S.A. Arnott, M.R. Walsh, and S. B. Munch. 2005. Darwinian Fishery Science: lessons from the Atlantic silverside. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 62:730-737.

• Munch, S.B. and D.O. Conover. 2004. Non-linear growth cost in Menidia menidia: theory and empirical evidence.Evolution, 58:661-664.

• Munch, S.B. and D.O. Conover. 2003. Rapid growth results in increased susceptibility to predation in Menidia menidia. Evolution, 57: 2119-2127.

• Munch, S.B., Mangel, M., Conover, D.O. 2003. Quantifying natural selection on body size from field data with an application to winter mortality in Menidia menidia. Ecology, 84: 2168-2177.

• Conover, D.O., T. Gilmore, S.B.Munch 2003. Estimating the relative contribution of spring and summer-spawned cohorts to the Atlantic coast bluefish stock. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 132: 1117–1124.

• Conover, D.O. and S.B. Munch 2002. Sustaining fisheries yields over evolutionary time scales. Science, 297:94-96.

• Munch, S.B. and D.O. Conover 2002. Accounting for local physiological adaptation in bioenergetic models: testing hypotheses for growth rate evolution by virtual transplant experiments. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Science, 59:393-403.

• Dunning, D., Q. Ross, S.B. Munch, and L.R. Ginzburg 2002. Measurement error affects risk estimates for recruitment to the Hudson River stock of striped bass. The Scientific World, 2(S1):238-253.

• Munch, S.B. and D.O. Conover 2001. Recruitment dynamics of bluefish, Pomatomus saltatrix from Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod, 1973-1995. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 57:393-402.

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