People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au

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My research group focuses on the interface between social science and ecology to develop solutions for a wide range of issues facing coral reefs and the millions of people who depend on them. We integrate theories and methods from geography, economics, political science, ecology, and modeling to explore issues at the forefront of applied conservation. Our social science research is rigorous, quantitative, comparative in nature, and often conducted at extremely large scales.

Theme I. Governance and management of coral reefs

Photo by Tessa Hempton

Photo by Tessa Hempton

A large focal point of our research examines the role of socioeconomic factors in the collective management of common pool resources. We examine a broad range of governance arrangements, including customary management, co-management, marine protected areas, and international governance.






Theme II. Responding to environmental change

Photo by Joshua Cinner

Photo by Joshua Cinner

We examine how societies and ecosystems respond to environmental change.  This research is highly interdisciplinary, and links social, ecological and environmental systems. The theoretical foundation for this work is largely grounded in resilience and vulnerability.







Theme III. Linking social and ecological systems

Photo by Joshua Cinner

Photo by Joshua Cinner

Societies and ecosystems are linked in complicated ways. My group uses rigorous social science and ecological theory to explore dynamics, thresholds, and feedbacks between social and ecological systems. We use large-scale field data to examine the specific conditions under which different human-environment interaction models (e.g., Malthusian, ecological modernization, political economy) best explain ecosystem conditions at different scales. The current centrepiece of this research theme is my  global “Bright Spots” project, which seeks to identify and learn from the outliers- in this case, places with more fish than expected, given the socioeconomic and environmental conditions they are exposed to.  We published our first paper on the idea in July, and it was the cover feature of Nature!

Leader Professor Josh Cinner

I grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts, USA. I completed a Master’s degree in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island in 2000, and received a PhD from James Cook University in 2006. My research focuses on using social science to improve coral reef management. My interest in this field began in 1996 while working as a US Peace Corps Volunteer in the Montego Bay Marine Park in Jamaica. I witnessed first hand how conventional conservation strategies were failing because they did not understand or reflect the social, economic, and cultural needs of resource users. I have since worked with various coastal peoples in the Pacific Islands, South East Asia, East Africa, and the Caribbean to better understand how socioeconomic factors influence the ways in which people use, perceive, and govern coral reefs. My work draws together a wide range of social science disciplines (including human geography, common property, anthropology, and conservation policy) and I often work closely with ecologists on interdisciplinary research topics.  Increasingly, my research is moving beyond the case study approach toward a ‘big picture’ comparative exploration of human-environment interactions.

Postdoctoral Researcher

Cristian Rojas

Cristian is from the south of Chile. After finishing college, he received a Fulbright scholarship to continue his studies in the United States where he obtained a PhD in Environmental Economics from the University of Wyoming (2016). In 2017 he moved to the CoE for Coral Reef Studies as a Research Fellow. Cristian is interested in incorporating psychological insights into economic analysis. His research focuses in the study of coupled human and natural systems using tools from behavioural and experimental economics, aiming to develop mechanisms that increase resource efficiency and environmental sustainability. His current research uses economic field and laboratory experiments to understand how markets—and market structure—can affect people’s preferences for sustainability


Brock Bergseth

Brock hails from the beautiful, but typically frozen tundra of Minnesota in the northern United States. A childhood of wandering the woods fostered a healthy appreciation of the natural world, and guided his desire for further education in biology, ecology and natural resource management. During this time, Brock increasingly noticed that effective management of natural resources was more dependent on managing people rather than the resources themselves. This garnered further interest in understanding people’s environmental behaviour and decision-making processes, ultimately culminating in a PhD which focuses on user compliance in marine protected areas. During this project, Brock will be investigating people’s compliance behaviour by applying techniques and methodologies from a range of disciplines, including behavioural ecology, criminology, and social psychology. While his research is currently focused on marine protected areas, outputs from this research will be widely applicable to resource management and policy in numerous social-ecological systems.

Jacqueline Lau

Jacqui is from Melbourne. She completed a PhB in sociology at the Australian National University in 2012, followed by an MPhil in Environment, Society and Development from the University of Cambridge in 2014. During her MPhil she studied the role of identity in an artisanal oyster fishery in The Gambia, which inspired her to pursue a PhD on the links between conservation and development in coastal communities. Under the supervision of Joshua Cinner and Christina Hicks, her project investigates wellbeing and equity in small-scale and artisanal fisheries in a developing country context, comparing the impacts of different conservation strategies.

Emmanuel Kakunde Mbaru

Emmanuel has over seven years experience working on the small scale marine fisheries, with a special emphasis on fishing gear technology innovations as well as stock assessment. Besides working on the small scale fisheries, he has participated in various research initiatives including ship surveys, FAD fisheries, dropline fisheries and satellite applications in fisheries research. His research work is supported by scientific outputs inform of publications, presentations in international conferences and short-course training programs on fisheries research, telemetry and ocean governance. Currently, he is working towards developing ecosystem based fisheries management tools for the Kenyan small scale fisheries through his PhD studentship at JCU with the ARC-CoE Coral Reef Studies Australia. He is also affiliated to Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) working as a Research Scientist.

Eva Maire

Eva grew up in a small Mediterranean town in the South of France. Eva decided to nourish her fascination for marine ecosystems by undergoing a 6 months internship with David Mouillot in Montpellier and Joshua Cinner in Australia, working on a global-scale assessment of coral reefs accessibility, based on travel time from human settlements. Currently, Eva is a PhD candidate at the University of Montpellier (France) and James Cook University/ARC Centre of Excellence of Coral Reefs Studies under the supervision of Professors David Mouillot and Joshua Cinner. Her research focuses on defining key drivers of reef fish biodiversity, biomass and functions, in order to understand how fish communities are shaped by both socio-economic drivers and larval dispersal patterns on coral reefs.

Jessica Zamborain Mason

Since young, Jessica has been fascinated by the immensity of the oceans and the creatures within them. This fascination grew with time, making Jessica complete a Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science (Oceanography) at the University of Vigo (Spain), and undertake internships at the University of Baja California (Mexico) and at the Algarve University (Portugal). During these learning adventures, Jessica decided she wanted to focus on contributing towards the ecologic, social and economic sustainability of the world’s fisheries. For her Honours, Jessica studied the impact of human development on marsh and seagrass ecosystems from the North Atlantic Spanish coast. Then, she completed a Master’s degree in Fisheries Biology and Management at James Cook University (Australia) where she used mathematical models and network theory to increase our knowledge on how marine reserve networks should be designed to promote the persistence of metapopulations. Currently, Jessica is at James Cook University and the ARC Centre of Excellence of Coral Reef Studies completing her PhD under the supervision of Professors Sean Connolly and Joshua Cinner. Her research aims to further our understanding on the current functional state of the world´s coral reef ecosystems, how this state is influenced by environmental and socio-economic factors, and provide tangible management recommendations that allow to achieve sustainable targets.

Former Students

Adrian Arias

Adrian’s project looked into compliance as related to natural resource use. Natural resource management is inherently about influencing peoples’ behaviour towards nature; therefore adequate user compliance is critical for conservation and sustainability. Adrian focused on fishers’ compliance with marine protected areas (MPAs); however, his work is applicable to a broad range of activities in both marine and terrestrial environments. To understand compliance Adrian was drawing on knowledge from diverse fields such as psychology and political science, and complementing it with empirical data from case studies in his native Costa Rica. This work did not only contribute to science, it considerably enhanced the effectiveness of MPAs in social and environmental terms.

Tom Brewer, Charles Darwin University

Tom worked on understanding interaction between social and ecological systems to improve human welfare. Within this broad research theme were two dominant research strands. First, for his Ph. D. under the supervision of Assoc. Professor Cinner, he worked towards understanding social phenomena that drive the exploitation and management of ecological systems. He conducted this research in Solomon Islands using coral reefs as his model ecological system. Second, he was interested in both the theory and application of understanding the links between human welfare (including health and well-being) and ecosystem states across different spatial, temporal and socio-political scales. A better understanding of the links helped target investments toward conserving dimensions of natural systems that we derive the greatest benefit from. His papers and résumé can be found at: http://jamescook.academia.edu/TomBrewer

Georgina Gurney, ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies

Georgina is from Tasmania, where she completed her BSc in Marine, Freshwater and Antarctic Science. Preferring tropical rather than Antarctic waters for diving, she headed north to do her Honours research in the Philippines, where she used bio-physical simulation modelling to explore potential reef futures under multiple management and climatic scenarios. Georgina’s experiences in the Philippines inspired her to pursue a PhD in understanding the human dimensions of marine resource management. Supervised by Bob Pressey, Josh Cinner, Natalie Ban and Nadine Marshall, her research focused on how social factors can be incorporated into several stages of systematic conservation planning with two key aims. First, she was investigating how to explicitly integrate fisheries livelihood objectives into spatial prioritization procedures to enable MPA designs to be better aligned with the needs of local stakeholders. Second, to inform the selection of contextually appropriate conservation actions, she explored the social impacts of MPA management, and the relative role of multiple-scale factors in influencing stakeholders’ engagement in collective MPA management.

Christina Hicks, University of Lancaster

Christina is an interdisciplinary social scientist working to develop sustainable, equitable, and efficient approaches to managing coastal resources. Her research integrates theory and methods from economics, psychology, political science, and fisheries science to examine the way people’s values relate to and change, depending on their social context. Her PhD was jointly supervised by Josh Cinner, Terry Hughes, Natalie Stoeckl and Bob Pressey. She worked directly with managers and NGOs to improve our understanding of how people are likely to develop and/or respond to resource management initiatives.

Fraser Januchowski-Hartley, IRD

Born in Edinburgh, Fraser grew up in the UK and Malawi. Having completed both his BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology and an MSc in Tropical Coastal Management at Newcastle University, he departed for Papau New Guinea in 2006 and worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society on coral reef conservation for the next three years. During this time, he realized that the human dimension of ecological systems was much more interesting than  previously thought. In his PhD, he investigated the effects of traditional fishing and marine management on fish behaviour, and how changes in this impinge on fishery and conservation goals, under the supervision of Josh Cinner, Nick Graham and Garry Russ.

 Jan Robinson

Jan left the UK on a short expedition almost 15 years ago and still hasn’t found his way back. This may have something to do with the fact that beer tastes better in warm climates. Having completed a BSc in Marine Biology at University College of Swansea, Wales, and then a master’s degree in Applied Marine Science at the University of Plymouth, Jan joined the Royal Geographical Society Shoals of Capricorn programme and went to Seychelles. The allure of tropical seas proved irresistible and he went on to become the manager of the Fisheries Research Unit of the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA). In 10-years working at SFA, Jan developed research interests focusing on a broad spectrum of tropical fish, ranging from rabbitfish to tunas. His research included studies on the effects of fishing on reef fish spawning aggregations, the impacts of climate change on small-island developing state economies, and the effects of coral bleaching on reef fisheries. He also held numerous responsibilities with regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) and is currently vice-chair of the Scientific Committee of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). Jan joined ARC to study for a PhD in April 2012. Under the wise guidance of Nick Graham, Josh Cinner and Glenn Almany, Jan focused on how the social behaviour of reef fish influences their vulnerability to fishing.

Pete Waldie

Peter is interested in integrating contemporary ecosystem-based management programs into existing customary marine tenure systems, drawing on partnerships with international research institutions, NGOs, government departments and local communities. His work is focused on commercially important grouper spawning aggregations in Papua New Guinea – investigating relevant biological spatial scales for management (e.g. larval dispersal patterns and home ranges) alongside the spatial scales of existing governance systems (i.e. customary marine tenure systems). Peter’s PhD is supervised by Glenn Almany, Joshua Cinner, Richard Hamilton and John Pandolfi.

Duan Biggs, Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions




Chris Bartlett

Key Collaborators

 Tim McClanahanWildlife Conservation Society



 Nick Graham, Lancaster Environment Centre



Aaron MacNeilDalhousie University



Jack KittingerConservation International



David FearyUniversity of Nottingham



Eddie-Allison-528x528Eddie Allison, University of Washington



Stefan GelcichStefan Gelcich, University Católica de Chile



Katrina Brown, University of Exeter

Where to publish A Handbook of Scientific Journals for Contributors to Marine Conservation


McClanahan TR and J. Cinner. (2012). Adapting to a Changing Environment: confronting the consequences of climate change. Oxford University Press.  New York.

Recent (2009+) Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

2017/In press

Bergseth, B. et al. (2017) A social-ecological approach to assessing and managing poaching by recreational fishers. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Blythe, J. P. Cohen, H. Eriksson, JE Cinner, D. Boso, A. Schwarz, N. Andrew (2017). Strengthening post-hoc analysis of community-based fisheries management through the social-ecological systems framework. Marine Policy. 82: 50-58.

Gelcich et al. (2016). Fishers’ perceptions on the Chilean coastal TURF system after two decades: problems, benefits and emerging needs. Marine Pollution Bulletin. 93: 53-67

Graham, NAJ, TR McClanahan, MA MacNeil, SK Wilson, JE Cinner, C Huchery, TH Holmes (2017) Human disruption of coral reef trophic structure. Current Biology, 23: 231-236

–        Cover feature & highlighted in a ‘Dispatches’ editorial

–        Altmetric score of 151

Hughes, TP, M. Barnes, D. Bellwood, JE Cinner, GS Cumming, JBC Jackson, J Kleypas, I van de Leemput, J Lough, TH Morrison, SR Palumbi, E van Ness, M Scheffer (2017) Coral Reefs in the Anthropocene. Nature. 546: 82-90

–        Altmetric score of 499 (88th percentile of all Nature articles)


Arias, A., RS Pressey, R. Jones, J. Alvarez-Romero, J Cinner (2016). Optimizing enforcement and compliance in offshore marine protected areas: A case study from Coco’s Island, Costa Rica Oryx 50: 18-26.

Cinner, J et al. (2016). Bright spots among the world’s coral reefs. Nature 535: 416-419.

  • Cover feature
  • Received cover feature and News & Views editorial in Nature
  • Coverage in 110 news outlets, including The Atlantic, LA Times, BBC, Washington Post, Daily Mail, NPR
  • Altmetric score of 1129- which is in the 99th percentile of all articles and 97th percentile of Nature articles
  • Recommended by Faculty of 1000

Cinner J,  MS Pratchett, NAJ Graham, V Messmer , MMPB Fuentes, T Ainsworth ,  NC Ban, LK Bay, JL Blythe, D Dissard, S Dunn, LS Evans, M Fabinyi, P Fidelman, J Figueiredo, AJ Frisch, CJ Fulton, CC Hicks,  V Lukoschek, J Mallela, A Moya, L Penin, JL Rummer, S Walker, DH Williamson (2016). A framework for understanding climate change impacts on coral reef social-ecological systems. Regional Environmental Change. 16: 1133-1146

  • ISI Highly Cited paper

Gelcich et al. (2016). Fishers’ perceptions on the Chilean coastal TURF system after two decades: problems, benefits and emerging needs. Marine Pollution Bulletin. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5343/bms.2015.1082

Gurney, G,  JE Cinner, J Sartin, RL Pressey, NC Ban, N. Marshall, D. Prabuning (2016). Participation in devolved commons management: Multiscale socioeconomic factors related to individuals’ participation in community-based management of marine protected areas in Indonesia. Environmental Science & Policy. 61: 212-220

Maire, E., JE Cinner, L. Velez, C. Huchery, C. Mora, S. Dagata, L. Vigliola, L. Wantinez, M. Kulbicki, D. Mouillot. (2016). How accessible are reefs to people? A global assessment based on travel time. Ecology Letters. 19: 351-360.

  • Cover feature

McClanahan, T., JE Cinner, S. Ruiz (2016). Simulating the outcomes of resource user- and rule-based regulations in a coral reef fisheries-ecosystem model. Global Environmental Change. 38: 58-69

Pendleton et al. (2016). Coral Reefs and People in a High-CO2 World: Where Can Science Make a Difference to People? PLoS ONE 11(11): e0164699. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0164699

  • Covered in Washington Post & Boston Globe

Waldie, P., GR. Almany, TH Sinclair-Taylor, RJ Hamilton, T Potuku, MA. Priest, KL Rhodes, J Robinson, JE Cinner, ML Berumen (2016). Restricted grouper reproductive migrations support community-based Management. Royal Society Open Science 3: 150694. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.150694


Aguilera, S.E., Cole, J., Finkbeiner, E.M., Le Cornu, E., Ban, N.C., Carr, M.H., Cinner, J.E., Crowder, L.B., Gelcich, S., Hicks, C.C., Kittinger, J.N., Martone, R., Malone, D., Pomeroy, C., Starr, R.M., Seram, S., Zuercher, R., Broad, K. (2015) Managing small-scale commercial fisheries for adaptive capacity: Insights from dynamic social-ecological drivers of change in Monterey Bay. PLoS One 10: e0118992

Arias, A., J. E. Cinner, R. E. Jones and R. L. Pressey. 2015. Levels and drivers of fishers’ compliance with marine protected areas. Ecology and Society 20(4):19

Bergseth B, Cinner J, Russ G. (2015). Measuring and monitoring compliance in no-take marine reserves. Fish & Fisheries 16: 240-258

Biggs et al. (2015) Marine tourism in the face of global change: the resilience of enterprises to crises. Ocean and Coastal Management 105: 65-74

Cinner et al. (2015) Changes in adaptive capacity of Kenyan fishing communities. Nature Climate Change 5: 872-876

Cinner J, MS Pratchett, NAJ Graham, V Messmer , MMPB Fuentes, T Ainsworth , NC Ban, LK Bay, JL Blythe, D Dissard, S Dunn, LS Evans, M Fabinyi, Fidelman, J Figueiredo, AJ Frisch, CJ Fulton, CC Hicks, V Lukoschek, J Mallela, A Moya, L Penin, JL Rummer, S Walker, DH Williamson. (2015) A framework for understanding climate change impacts on coral reef social-ecological systems. Regional Environmental Change DOI 10.1007/s10113-015-0832-z

Eckstrom et al. (2015). Vulnerability and adaptation of US shellfisheries to ocean acidification. Nature Climate Change 5: 207–214

Gurney, G., R. Pressey, J. Cinner, R. Pollnac, and S. Campbell. (2015) Integrating Conservation and Development: evaluating a community-based marine protected area project for equity of socioeconomic impacts. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 370: 20140277

Hicks CC, JE Cinner, N. Stoeckl, TR McClanahan. (2015). Linking ecosystem services and human values theory. Conservation Biology 29: 1471-1480

Januchowski-Hartley, F., NAJ Graham, JE Cinner. G Russ. (2015) Local fishing influences coral reef fish behavior inside protected areas of the Indo-Pacific. Biological Conservation 182: 8-12

MacNeil et al. (2015) Recovery potential of the world’s coral reef fishes. Nature 520: 341-344

Maina et al. Integrating social-ecological vulnerability assessments with climate forecasts to improve local climate adaptation planning.Regional Environmental Change 16:881-891

McClanahan, TR, MA MacNeil, NAJ Graham, J Cinner (2015). Biomass-based targets and the management of multispecies coral reef fisheries.Conservation Biology 29: 409-417

McClanahan TR, Cinner J, Alison EH. (2015). Managing fisheries for human and food security. Fish & Fisheries 16: 78-103

Robinson et al. (2015). Fish and fisher behaviour influence the susceptibility of groupers to fishing at a multispecies spawning aggregation site. Coral Reefs 34: 371-382


Arias, A., RS Pressey, R. Jones, J. Alvarez-Romero, J Cinner. (2014). Optimizing enforcement and compliance in offshore marine protected areas: A case study from Coco’s Island, Costa Rica. Oryx 50: 18-26

Campbell SJ, Mukminin A, Kartawjaya T, Huchery C, Cinner J. (2014). Changes in a coral reef fishery along a gradient of harvesting intensity in an Indonesian marine protected area. Aquatic Conservation: marine and freshwater ecosystems 24: 92-103

Cinner J. Coral reef livelihoods. (2014). Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 7:65-71

Cinner, J and TR McClanahan. (2014) A sea change on the African coast: Preliminary social and ecological outcomes of a governance transformation in Kenyan fisheries. Global Environmental Change 30: 133-139

Cinner J, et al. (2014). Winners and losers in marine conservation: Fisher’s experiences of displacement and perceptions of spillover from marine protected areas in Seychelles and Kenya. Society & Natural Resources 27: 994-1005

Condy M, J Cinner, TR McClanahan, DB Bellwood (2014). Projections for the recovery of fish catch and ecosystem function by gear modifications in an impoverished fishery. Aquatic Conservation 25: 396-410

Cortesi, F., Feeney, W.E., Ferrari, M.C.O., Waldie, P.A., Phillips, G.A.C., McClure, E.C., Sköld, H.N., Salzburger, W., Marshall, N.J., Cheney, K.L. (2015) Phenotypic Plasticity Confers Multiple Fitness Benefits to a Mimic. Current Biology 25: 1–6

Graham, NAJ, J Cinner, A Norström, M Nyström (2014). Coral reefs as novel ecosystems: embracing new futures. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 7: 9-14
– ISI Highly Cited paper

Gurney et al. (2014). Poverty and protected areas: an evaluation of a marine integrated conservation and development project in Indonesia.Global Environmental Change. 26: 98-107

Hicks CC and JE Cinner (2014). Social, institutional, and knowledge mechanisms mediate diverse ecosystem service benefits from coral reefs.PNAS 111: 17791-17796

Hicks CH, Stoeckl N, Cinner J, Robinson J. (2014) Fishery benefits and stakeholder priorities associated with a coral reef fishery and their implications for management. Environmental Science & Policy 44: 258-270.

Januchowski-Hartley FA, Cinner J, Graham NAJ. (2014). Fisheries benefits attained from behavioural modification of fishes in periodically harvested fisheries closures in Melanesia. Aquatic Conservation 24: 777-790.

Kittinger et al. (2014). A practical approach for putting people in ecosystem-based ocean planning. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12: 448-456

McClanahan et al. (2014). Perceived benefits of management benefits in Madagascar. Ecology & Society 19(1): 5.

Robinson J, Cinner JE, Graham NAJ (2014) The Influence of Fisher Knowledge on the Susceptibility of Reef Fish Aggregations to Fishing. PLoS ONE 9(3): e91296.


Albert S, M Love, TD Brewer. 2013. Contrasts in social and ecological assessments of coral reef health in Melanesia. Pacific Science. In Press

Arias, A. and Sutton, S.G. (in press). Understanding recreational fishers’ compliance with no-take zones in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Ecology and Society

Bijoux JP, Dagorn L, Berke G, Cowley PD, Soria M, Gaertner J-C, Robinson J (2013) Temporal dynamics, residency and site fidelity of spawning aggregations of a herbivorous tropical reef fish, Siganus sutor. Marine Ecology Progress Series 475: 233-247

Brewer T, Cinner J, Green A, Pressey R. (2013). Market access and socioeconomic development explain patterns of exploitation on coral reefs. Conservation Biology 27: 443-452

Cinner J, MA MacNeil, X. Basutro, S. Gelcich. (2013). Looking beyond the fisheries crisis: Cumulative learning from small-scale fisheries through diagnostic approaches.Global Environmental Change6: 1359-1365

Cinner J, Graham NAJ, Huchery C, MacNeil MA. (2013). Global impacts of local human population density and distance to markets on the condition of coral reef fisheries. Conservation Biology 27: 453-458

Cinner J, Huchery C. (2013). A comparison of social outcomes associated with different fisheries co-management institutions. Conservation Letters

Cinner J, Huchery C, Darling ES, Humphries AT, Graham NAJ, Hicks CH, Marshall N, McClanahan TR. (2013) Evaluating social and ecological vulnerability of coral reef fisheries to climate change. PLoS One. 8(9): e74321. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074321

Cohen P, Cinner J, Foale SJ. (2013). Fishing dynamics associated with periodically harvested marine closures. Global Environmental Change 6: 1702-1713

Cvitanovic C. et al. (2013). Critical research needs for managing coral reef Marine Protected Areas: perspectives of academics and managers. Journal of Environmental Management 114: 84-91

Graham NAJ, Bellwood DR, Cinner J, TP Hughes, Norström AV, Nyström M.  (in press). Managing resilience to reverse phase shifts in coral reefs. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Grüss A, Kaplan DM, Robinson J (2013) Evaluation of the effectiveness of marine reserves for transient spawning aggregations in data-limited situations. ICES Journal of Marine Science DOI: 10.1093/icesjms/fst028

Hicks CH, Graham, NAJ, Cinner J (2013). Synergies and tradeoffs in how managers, scientists, and fishers value coral reef ecosystem services. Global Environmental Change 6: 1444-1453

Januchowski-Hartley FA, Graham NAJ, Cinner J, Russ GR. (2013). Spillover of fish naïveté from marine reserves. Ecology Letters 16:191-197

Johnson AE, Cinner J, Hardt M, Jacquet J, McClanahan TR, Sanchirico J. (2013). Trends, current understanding, and future directions for artisanal coral reef fisheries research. Fish & Fisheries DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-2979.2012.00468.x

MacNeil A, Cinner J. (2013). Hierarchical livelihood outcomes among co-managed fisheries. Global Environmental Change http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.04.003

McClanahan TR, Cinner J, Abunge C (2013). Identifying management preferences, institutional organizational rules, and attributes, and their capacity to improve fisheries management in Pemba, Mozambique. African Journal of Marine Science 35(1)

McClanahan TR, Cinner J, Alison EH. (in press). Managing fisheries for human and food security. Fish & Fisheries DOI: 10.1111/faf.12045

Pietri D, Gurney G, Benitez-Vina N, Kuklok A, Maxwell S, Whiting L, Vina M, Jenkins L. (In press) Practical recommendations to help students bridge the “research-implementation gap” and promote conservation. Conservation Biology


Ban N.C., Mills M., Tam J., Hicks C.C., Klain S., Stoeckl N., Bottrill M.C., Levine J., Pressey R.L., Satterfield T., Chan K.M.A. (in  press) Towards a social-ecological approach for conservation planning: embedding social considerations.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment

Ban, NC. J Cinner, V Adams, M Mills, GR. Almany, S Ban, LJ. McCook, A White. (2012) The glass as half full: Emerging trends and opportunities for marine protected areas through adaptive management. Aquatic Conservation: 22: 262–271

Bohensky E, A Smajgl, TD Brewer 2012. Patterns in household engagement with climate change in Indonesia. Nature Climate Change. doi:10.1038/nclimate1762

Brewer TD. 2013. Dominant discourses, among fishers’ and middlemen, of the factors affecting coral reef fish stocks in Solomon Islands. Marine Policy. 37: 245-53

Brewer, T., J. Cinner, R. Fisher, A. Green, SK Wison. (2012). Market access, population density, and socioeconomic development explain diversity and functional group biomass of coral reef fish assemblages. Global Environmental Change. 2: 399-406

Bruggeman et al. (2012). Wicked social-ecological problems forcing unprecedented change on the latitudinal margins of coral reefs: the case of southwest Madagascar. Ecology & Society

Campbell et al. (2012) Avoiding conflicts and protecting coral reefs: Customary management protects habitat and fish biomass. ORYX 46: 486-494

Campbell SJ, Hoey AS, Maynard J, Kartawijaya T, Cinner J, Graham NAJ, Baird AH. (2012). Weak compliance undermines the success of no-take zones in a large government controlled marine protected area. PLOS One 7(11): e50074. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050074

Cinner, J., TR. McClanahan, MA MacNeil, NAJ. Graham, TM. Daw, A Mukminin, DA Feary, AL Rabearisoa, A. Wamukota, N Jiddawi, SJ Campbell, AH Baird, FA Januchowski-Hartley, S Hamed, R Lahari, T Morove, J Kuange. 2012. Comanagement of coral reef social-ecological systems. Proceedings of the US National Academies of Sciences (PNAS): 109: 5219-5222.

Cinner, J., T .M. Daw, T.R. McClanahan, N. Muthiga, C. Abunge, S. Hamed, B. Mwaka, A. Rabearisoa, A. Wamukota, E. Fisher, N. Jiddawi. (2012) Transitions toward co-management: the process of marine resource management devolution in three east African countries. Global Environmental Change 22:651-658

Cinner, J, T.R. McClanahan, N.A.J. Graham, T.M. Daw, J. Maina, S.M. Stead, A. Wamukota, K. Brown, Ö. Bodin (2012). Vulnerability of coastal communities to key impacts of climate change on coral reef fisheries. Global Environmental Change. 22: 12–20

–        Highlighted in Nature Climate Change

Cinner, J., X. Basurto, P. Fidelman, J. Kuange, R. Lahari, A. Mukminin. (2012) Institutional designs of customary fisheries management arrangements in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Mexico. Marine Policy. 36: 278-285

Cinner, J. and RS Pomeroy (2012). People and the Sea. Coastal Management  40: 235-238

Daw TM, Cinner JE, McClanahan TR, Brown K, Stead SM, Graham NAJ and Maina J (2012). To Fish or Not to Fish: Factors at Multiple Scales Affecting Artisanal Fishers’ Readiness to Exit a Declining Fishery. PLoS One 7(2): e31460.

–        Covered by BBC news

Fidelman, P, L. Evans, M. Fabinyi, S. Foale, J. Cinner, F. Rosen (2012). Governing large-scale marine commons: contextual challenges in the Coral Triangle. Marine Policy. 36:42-53

Guillotreau P, Campling L, Robinson J (2012) Vulnerability of small island fishery economies to climate and institutional changes. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 4:   287-291

Hicks .C.C., McClanahanT.R., (2012) Assessing gear modifications needed to optimize yields in a heavily exploited,  multi-species, seagrass and coral reef fishery. PloS ONE  7: e36022. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036022

Hughes, S., A Yaua, L Max, N Petrovicc, F Davenport, M Marshall, TR McClanahan, EA Allison, JE Cinner (2012). A Framework to Assess National Level Vulnerability from the Perspective of Food Security: The Case of Coral Reef Fisheries. Environmental Science and Policy  23: 95-108

Januchowski-Hartley FA, Nash KL, Lawton RJ. (2012) Influence of spear guns, dive gear and observers on estimating fish flight initiation distance on coral reefs. Marine Ecology Progress Series 469: 113-119.

McClanahan, T., C.A. Abunge, J. Cinner. (2012). Heterogeneity in fishers’ and managers’ preferences towards management restrictions and benefits in Kenya. Environmental Conservation.  doi:10.1017/S0376892912000197

McLoed L, A Green, E Game, K Anthony, J Cinner, S Heron, J Kleypas, C Lovelock, J Pandolfi, R Pressey, R Salm, S Schill, C Woodroffe. (accepted). Integrating climate and ocean change vulnerability into conservation planning. Coastal Management 40: 651-667

Nash KL, Graham NAJ, Januchowski-Hartley FA, Bellwood DR. (2012) Influence of habitat condition and competition on foraging behaviour of parrotfishes. Marine Ecology Progress Series 457: 113-124.

Setiawan, A., J Cinner, S Sutton, A Mukim. (2012). The perceived impact of customary marine resource management on household and community welfare in northern Sumatra, Indonesia. Coastal Management. 40: 239-249

Wamukota, A., JE Cinner, TR McClanahan (2012). Co-management of coral reef fisheries: A critical evaluation of the literature. Marine Policy. 36: 481-488



Ban, NC, V Adams, GR Almany, S Ban, J Cinner, LJ McCook, M Mills, RL Pressey, A White. (2011) Designing, implementing and managing marine protected areas: emerging trends and opportunities for coral reef nations. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 408: 21-31

Cinner, J Social-ecological traps in coral reef fisheries (2011). Global Environmental Change. 21: 835-839

–        Listed in Faculty of 1000

Cinner, J. and G. David (2011). Human dimensions of coastal and marine ecosystems in the western Indian Ocean. Coastal Management. 39: 351-357

Cinner, J., C. Folke, T. Daw, C. Hicks. (2011) Responding to change: using scenarios to understand how socioeconomic factors may influence amplifying or dampening exploitation feedbacks among Tanzanian fishers. Global Environmental Change. 21: 7-12

Daw, TM., J Cinner, TR McClanahan, NAJ Graham, SK Wilson. (2011) Design factors & socioeconomic variables associated with ecological responses to fishery closures in the western Indian Ocean. Coastal Management. 39: 412-424

Graham et al. From Microbes to People: Tractable benefits of no-take areas for coral reefs.(2011). Oceanography and Marine Biology: an Annual Review: 46: 251-296

Hicks C.C. (2011) How do we value our reefs? Risks and trade-offs across scales in ‘biomass based’ economies. Coastal Management 39:358-376

Feary, D., JE Cinner, N.A.J Graham, F.A. Januchowski-Hartley. (2011). Effects of Customary Marine Closures on Fish Behavior, Spear-Fishing Success, and Underwater Visual Surveys. Conservation Biology. 25: 341-349

Januchowski-Hartley, F., N.A.J. Graham, D. Feary, T. Morove; J. E. Cinner. Fear of Fishers: Human Predation Explains Behavioral Changes in Coral Reef Fishes. PLoS ONE. 6(8): e22761.

McClanahan, TR, NAJ Graham, MA MacNeil, N. Muthiga, J Cinner, H. Bruggeman, SK WIlson (2011). Critical thresholds and tangible targets for ecosystem-based management of coral reef fisheries. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) doi/10.1073/pnas.1106861108

–        Listed in Faculty of 1000

–       Coverage in Sydney Morning Herald, Courier Mail, ABC news, and other key media outlets

McClanahanT.R., Hicks .C.C., ( 2011) Changes in life history and ecological characteristics of the fish catch community with increasing fishery management. Fisheries Management and  Ecology 18: 50-60

Mora, C. O Aburto-Oropeza, A Ayala Bocos, P Ayotte, S Banks, A Bauman, M Beger, S Bessudo, D Booth, E Brokovich, A Brooks, P Chabanet, J Cinner, J Cortés, J Cruz-Motta, AC Magaña, E DeMartini, G Edgar, D Feary, S Ferse, A Friedlander, K Gaston, C Gough, N Graham, A Green, H Guzman, M Hardt, M Kulbicki, Y Letourneur, AL Perez, M Loreau, Y Loya, C Martinez, I Mascareñas-Osorio, T Morove, MO Nadon, Y Nakamura, G Paredes, N Polunin, M Pratchett, HR Bonilla, F Rivera, E Sala, S Sandin, G Soler, R Stuart-Smith, E Tessier, D Tittensor, M Tupper, P Usseglio, L Vigliola, L Wantiez, I Williams, S Wilson, and F Zapata. (2011) Global human footprint on the linkage between diversity and function in reef fishes. PLoS Biology. 9(4): e1000606

–       Coverage in CNN

–        Listed as a ‘must read’ by Faculty of 1000

Skinner, M. P., Brewer, T.D., Johnstone, R., Fleming, L. E., Lewis, R.J. 2011. Ciguatera fish poisoning in the Pacific Islands (1998 to 2008). PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases 5: e1416

Steneck, R.S. T.P. Hughes,  J. Cinner, N. Adger, S. Arnold, S. Boudreau, K. Brown,  F. Berkes, C. Folke, L. Gunderson, P. Olsson, M. Scheffer, B. Walker, J. Wilson, B. Worm. (2011) Creation of a gilded trap by the high economic value of the Maine lobster fishery. Conservation Biology. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2011.01717.x

–       Coverage in New York Times

–        Listed as ‘exceptional’ by Faculty of 1000

Stoeckl, N., Hicks, C.C, Mills M, Fabricius K, Esparon, M, Kroon F, Kaur, Costanza, R. (2011) The economic value of ecosystem services in the Great Barrier Reef: State of knowledge and information gaps. in “Ecological Economics Reviews” Costanza R., Limburg K., Kubiszewski I., Eds. Annals of the New York Academy of Science. 1219:113-133



Cinner, J. (2010) Poverty and the use of destructive fishing gear near east African marine protected areas. Environmental Conservation.(4): 321–326.

Cinner, J and Ö. Bodin. (2010). Livelihood diversification in tropical coastal communities: a network-based approach to analyzing ‘livelihood landscapes’ PLoS ONE. 5(8): e11999

Cinner, J TR. McClanahan, A. Wamukota.  (2010). Differences in livelihoods, socioeconomic characteristics, and environmental perceptions between fishers and non-fishers living near and far from marine parks on the Kenyan coast.  Marine Policy: 34:22-28

Feagan R.A., N. Mukherjee, K. Shanker, AH. Baird, J. Cinner, AM. Kerr, N Koedam, A. Sridhar, R.  Arthur, L.P. Jayatissa, DL Seen, M Menon, S. Rodriguez, Md. Shamsuddoha, F. Dahdouh-Guebas. Shelter from the storm? The use and misuse of ‘bioshields’ in managing for natural disasters on the coast. Conservation Letters. 3: 1-11

Fuentes MMPB, JE Cinner (2010) Using expert opinion to prioritize impacts of climate change on sea turtles’ nesting grounds. Journal of Environmental Management: 91: 2511-2518

Hicks C.C., Fitzsimmons C., Polunin N.V.C. (2010) An analysis of Interdisciplinarity within the environmental sciences. Environmental Conservation37: 464-477

MacNeil, A. NAJ Graham, JE Cinner, PA Loring, S Jennings, NK Dulvy, AT Fisk, TR McClanahan. (2010). Transitional states in marine fisheries: adapting to predicted global change. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. 365: 3753-3763

Pollnac, R., P. Christie, J. Cinner, T. Dalton, T. Daw, G. Forrester, N. Graham, T. McClanahan (2010). Marine reserves as linked social-ecological systems.  Invited article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).  107: 18262-18265

-covered in Faculty of 1000

Wilson, S.K. et al. (2010). Critical knowledge gaps in current understanding of climate change impacts on coral reef fishes. Journal of Experimental Biology: 213: 894-900



Bartlett C.Y., C. Manua, J. Cinner, S. Sutton, R. Jimmy, R. South, J. Nilsson, J. Raina. (2009). Comparison of outcomes of permanently closed and periodically harvested coral reef reserves. Conservation Biology: 23:1475-1484

Brewer, T. J. Cinner, A. Green, J. Pandolfi. (2009) Thresholds and multiple scale interactions of environment, resource use, and market proximity on reef fishery resources in the Solomon Islands. Biological Conservation 142: 1797–1807

Cinner, J. (2009). Migration and Coastal Resource Use in Papua New Guinea. Ocean & Coastal Management 51: 411-416

Cinner, J, T.M. Daw, T.R. McClanahan (2009). Socioeconomic factors that affect artisanal fishers’ readiness to exit a declining fishery. Conservation Biology: 23: 124-130

Cinner, J, M.M.P.B. Fuentes, H. Randriamahazo. (2009). Exploring social resilience in Madagascar’s marine protected areas. Ecology & Society: 14(1): 41. [online] URL: http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol14/iss1/art41/

Cinner, J. T. McClanahan, T. Daw, N.A.J. Graham, J. Maina, S.K. Wilson, T.P. Hughes. (2009) Linking social and ecological systems to sustain coral reef fisheries. Current Biology: 19: 206-212

–        Commentary in Moving beyond Malthus (R. Steneck, Current Biology, 2009, 19: R117-119)

–        Listed as a ‘must read’ by Faculty of 1000

–        Coverage in New York Times, CNN, Scientific American, ScienceNews, Discovery Channel etc.

Cinner, J. T. McClanahan, N.A.J. Graham, M. Pratchett, S.K. Wilson, J.B. Raina. (2009). Gear-based fisheries management as a potential adaptive response to climate change and coral mortality. Journal of Applied Ecology: 46: 724-732

Cinner, J. A. Wamukota, H. Randriamahazo,  A Rabearisoa. (2009) Toward community-based management of inshore marine resources in the Western Indian Ocean. Marine Policy: 33: 489-496

Hicks, C., TR McClanahan, J Cinner, and J Mills. (2009) Trade offs in ecological goods and services associated with different coral reef management strategies. Ecology & Society: 14:10.

Lokrantz, J., M. Nystrom, A. Norstrom, C. Folke, J. Cinner. (2009) Impacts of artisanal fishing on key functional groups and the potential vulnerability of coral reefs. Environmental Conservation. 36: 327-337

McClanahan T.R, J. Cinner, J Maina, N.A.J. Graham, T.M. Daw, S.M. Stead, A. Wamukota, K. Brown, M. Ateweberhan, V. Venus, & N.V.C. Polunin. (2009). Identifying reefs of hope and hopeful actions: Contextualizing environmental, ecological, and social parameters to effectively respond to climate change.Conservation Biology: 23: 662–671

Book Chapters

Kritzer J, Hicks CC, Mapstone B, Pina F, Sale P, (invited submission) Ecosystem-based management of coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds. In The Sea. Ed. Fogerty M. Harvard University Press

Kittinger J, Cinner J, Aswani S, White A. (in press). Back to the Past? Integrating Customary Practices and Institutions into Co-Management of Small-Scale Fisheries. In “Historical Ecology of Marine Social-Ecological Systems” J. Kittinger et al (eds). University of California Press.

McClanahan T, Allison EH, Cinner J. (in press). Managing marine resources for food and human security. In C. Barrett et al. (eds) Food or Consequences: Food Security and Global Stability. Oxford University Press.

Pratchett, MS, JD Bell, PL Munday, M Kronen, NAJ Graham, SK Wilson, RJ Lawton, S Pinca, K Friedman, AJ Williams, L Chapman, F Magron, JE Cinner, T Brewer, and A Webb. (2011) Coastal Fisheries. Chapter 9. In: Bell J (Ed) Climate change and the vulnerability of Pacific fisheries. Secretariat for the Pacific Community, Noumea.

Pomeroy, R, J. Cinner and J. Raakjaer Nielsen. (2011) Conditions for Successful Fisheries and Coastal Resources Co-management: Lessons Learned in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, and the wider Caribbean. In Cutts, R (ed.) Small scale fisheries management: Frameworks and approaches for the developing world. CABI Publishing: pp. 256

Hicks C.C. Hills J.M., LeTissier M. (2010) Natural Capital- valuing the coast. In Coastal Zone Management, Ed. Green D. R. Thomas Telford, London. pp 92-118

Cinner, J, T. R. McClanahan, C. Abunge, and A. Wamukota (2009). Human dimensions of conserving Kenya’s coral reefs. in J. Hoorweg and N. A. Muthiga, editors. Advances in Coastal Ecology: People, processes and ecosystems in Kenya. African Studies Centre, African Studies Collection Volume 20, Leiden, Netherlands.

The Cinner Research Group is committed to using the best possible science to inform policy at various scales.  We regularly work with local coastal communities, government agencies, and international organizations to provide policy advice.  We have developed a series of policy briefs on collaborative management in English, Portuguese, Swahili, French, and Indonesian.

Photo by Tim McClanahan

English version

French version

Indonesian version

Portugese version

Swahili version

Featured Media

Sydney Morning Herald

March 2017

The Atlantic

June 2016

LA Times

June 2016

The Guardian

June 2016

New York Times

March 2009


February 2009


February 2012

The Australian

November 2012

National Geographic

December 2011

Voice of America

April 2012


February 2009

Brisbane Times

February 2010

Townsville TV News

Interviews and Profiles

Nature Podcast



The Conversation Articles

There are bright spots among the world’s coral reefs – the challenge is to learn from them – July 21, 2017

The world’s coral reefs are in trouble, but don’t give up on them yet – June 1, 2017

Poverty, not population, is ruining coral reef ecosystems – Sep 30, 2011




Solution spaces for navigating coral reefs through the Anthropocene

Vulnerability of coastal communities to key impacts of climate change on coral reef fisheries

Linking social and ecological systems to sustain coral reef fisheries


Australian Research Council Pandora

Partner Research Institutions

Partner Partner Partner Partner
Coral Reef Studies

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au