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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


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

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Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Co-managing coral reef social-ecological systems


12pm - 1pm Thursday 29 March 2012

Sir George Fisher Building Conference Room #114 (DB32 upstairs)
Joshua Cinner, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, JCU, Townsville


Abstract: In an effort to deliver better outcomes for people and the ecosystems they depend on, many governments and civil society groups are engaging natural resource users in collaborative management arrangements (frequently called co-management). Yet there are few empirical studies demonstrating the social and institutional conditions conducive to successful co-management outcomes, especially in small-scale fisheries. Dr Cinner will evaluate 42 co-management arrangements across five countries and show: i) co-management is largely successful at meeting social and ecological goals; ii) co-management tends to benefit wealthier resource users; iii) resource overexploitation is most strongly influenced by market access and users’ dependence on resources; and iv) institutional characteristics strongly influence livelihood and compliance outcomes, yet have little effect on ecological conditions.

Biography: Dr Cinner’s research explores how social, economic, and cultural factors influence the ways in which people use, perceive, and govern natural resources, with a particular emphasis on using applied social science to inform coral reef management.  His background is in human geography and he often works closely with ecologists to uncover complex linkages between social and ecological systems. He has worked on human dimensions of resource management in  Jamaica, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Mauritius, Seychelles, Indonesia, Mozambique, and the USA. His research has had impacts on policy and on-the-ground conservation, including: developing strategies to integrate marine science and customary taboos in Papua New Guinea; helping Kenyan fishermen’s organizations (known as Beach Management Units) develop effective co-management; and the banning of beach seine nets in Tanga, Tanzania. His recent research has been covered in the New York Times, CNN, BBC and other major news networks and his career has been highlighted in Science (http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org/career_magazine/previous_issues/articles/2010_06_18/caredit.a1000061).

Josh began his work on the human dimensions of marine conservation while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica in the mid 1990s.  He has since completed a Master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island and a PhD from James Cook University.  He is now an Associate Professor at James Cook University and holds a five-year Australian Research Fellowship from the Australian Research Council (ARC). He is based in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.


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