Common to all of our research projects is that it’s applied and conducted in partnership with end users (e.g., WCS-Fiji, WWF-Malaysia, IUCN, State and Federal Environment Departments in Australia and overseas). Our research generally falls into 4 themes: land-sea conservation planning, ocean zoning and protected area design, social equity in conservation, and sustainable seafood 🐙
Land-sea conservation planning
Terrestrial activities impact marine ecosystems
We produce quantitative models that predict how various land-uses – including oil palm, agriculture, urban development, and forestry – impact seagrass, mangrove, and coral reef ecosystems and marine species. These models were developed to inform conservation and management decisions.
Prioritising management actions to mitigate impacts
Using decision science,
we develop methods for determining the most cost- effective strategies for conserving coastal ecosystems, answering questions like: Should we protect or restore the land or sea to conserve sea grass? Where is the best place for developing agriculture or forestry to minimise negative impacts on coral reefs?
Decision support tools for protecting the ocean
We have synthesised research, developed planning guidelines, and produced quantitative tools to assist conservation planners and natural resource managers faced with difficult decisions about how, what, and where to best protect marine biodiversity around the world.
A summary of our work in this area can be found here.
This work has been pursued in partnership with governments and non-government organisations to influence land-use decisions in Australia, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea to improve the effectiveness of conservation of coral reefs. Notably, our work with Fiji’s Protected Area Committee informed decisions about the location of marine and terrestrial protected areas in Fiji. This work has been supported by two Australian Research Council Grants (Discovery and Linkage) and two grants from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, including a Science for Nature and People Partnership grant.
Ocean zoning and protected area design
Protected areas are the cornerstone of most marine and terrestrial biodiversity conservation strategies worldwide. The principal focus of our protected area work is on developing techniques for designing protected areas that incorporate ecological and evolutionary processes, habitat condition, and socioeconomic knowledge. Given that most protected area design programs involve some form of zoning, like in the Great Barrier Reef, we also develop methods for zoning the ocean for multiple uses (e.g., fishing, energy use, recreation, mining, aquaculture) and multiple types of protected areas (e.g., IUCN I-VI).
This work has been pursued in partnership with government and non-government institutions involved in marine zoning exercises in Australia, UK, Papua New Guinea, USA, and Malaysia. For example, we supported the Malaysian government in zoning their first multi-zone marine park (1.02 million hectares). Our zoning work has been supported by many external organisations, including the Australian Government, World Wildlife Fund Malaysia, and The Wildlife Conservation Society.
Social equity in conservation
In biodiversity conservation, achieving social equity along with economic and environmental benefits – the triple bottom line – is commonly seen as the key to successful outcomes. However, despite widespread recognition of the importance that equitable distribution of benefits or costs across society can play in conservation success, little formal theory exists for how to explicitly incorporate equity into conservation planning. We are developing this theory and applying it to a range of conservation initiatives around the world.
This work is supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant a fellowship to Carissa Klein from The University of Queensland.
Global per capita seafood consumption has over doubled since the 1960s. Fisheries and aquaculture provide more than 3.1 billion people with ~20% of their animal protein. Although aquaculture is a rapidly increasing seafood source, fisheries remain important not only as a direct source of seafood, but indirectly, providing fishmeal required for many types of aquaculture. This reliance on fishing has caused widespread declines in fisheries, which comes with severe ecological and socioeconomic consequences. Our research focuses on improving the sustainability of the seafood we eat, focusing on seafood trade and consumption.