Jim Morley, Ph.D

Assistant Scientist, Coastal Studies Institute
Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, ECU

Office: Room No. 362
850 NC 345, Wanchese, NC 27981

Phone: 252-475-5454
Fax: 252-475-3545
Email: morleyj19@ecu.edu


North Carolina State University, Ph.D., Zoology, 2013

North Carolina State University, M.S., Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, 2004

SUNY Cortland, B.S., Biology, 2000

Research Interests

Jim is a fisheries ecologist and conducts a mix of modeling and field or laboratory-based research. Ecological modeling studies often use long-term survey data to examine trends in species distribution and abundance. Such models can be used to determine key environmental factors that impact species. In the field, the Morley-lab often combines traditional net and trap sampling approaches with modern technology, including sonar and acoustic tags.

The scope of Jim’s work ranges from local studies that are focused on North Carolina’s resources to studies that encompass the entire North American coast. A central theme is determining how climate variability and long-term change impact marine species and habitats. In addition to climate change, many other human-based stressors impact marine ecosystems and it is important to quantify these impacts so that policy makers have the right tools for decision making.

Academic Positions

2020 to Present: Assistant Professor, East Carolina University

2018 to 2019: Postdoctoral Researcher, University of North Carolina

2015 to 2018: Postdoctoral Researcher, Rutgers University


Flanagan PH, Jensen OP, Morley JW, Pinsky ML (2019) Response of marine communities to local temperature changes. Ecography 42:214-224

Morley JW, Selden RL, Latour RJ, Frolicher TL, Seagraves RJ, Pinsky ML (2018) Projecting shifts in thermal habitat for 686 species on the North American continental shelf. PLoS ONE, 13(5):1-28

Batt RD, Morley JW, Selden RL, Tingley MW, Pinsky ML (2017) Gradual changes in range size accompany long-term trends in species richness. Ecology Letters 20:1148-1157

Morley JW, Batt RD, Pinsky ML (2017) Marine assemblages respond rapidly to winter climate variability. Global Change Biology 23:2590-2601

Morley JW, Buckel JA (2014) Effects of temperature and prey size on predator-prey interactions between bluefish and bay anchovy. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 461:449-457

Morley JW, Buckel JA, Lankford TE (2013) Relative contribution of spring- and summer-spawned bluefish cohorts to the adult population: effects of size-selective winter mortality, overwinter growth, and sampling bias. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 70:233-244

Led by East Carolina University (ECU), The Coastal Studies Institute is a multi-institutional research and educational partnership of the UNC System including North Carolina State University, UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, and Elizabeth City State University.



Based at the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI), the North Carolina Renewable Ocean Energy Program (NCROEP) advances inter-disciplinary marine energy solutions across UNC System partner colleges of engineering at NC State University, UNC Charlotte, and NC A&T University.  Click on the links below for more information.




ECU's Integrated Coastal Programs (ECU ICP) is a leader in coastal and marine research, education, and engagement.   ECU ICP includes the Coastal Studies Institute, ECU's Department of Coastal Studies, and ECU Diving and Water Safety.


The faculty and staff at the Coastal Studies Institute come from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, as well as departments and organizations including ECU Department of Biology, ECU Department of Coastal Studies, NC Sea Grant, the North Carolina Renewable Energy Program, and the UNC Institute for the Environment.


Tour the ECU Outer Banks Campus and learn about the research, education, and engagement projects of CSI and ECU Integrated Coastal Programs through our 360 virtual tour.


The ECU Outer Banks campus is home to the Coastal Studies Institute.
Located on Roanoke Island along the banks of the second largest estuary
in the United States, this coastal campus spans 213 acres of marshes, scrub wetlands, forested wetlands, and estuarine ecosystems.