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.

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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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The interplay between economic values and societal settings in coral reef governance


Wednesday 12th August 4.00 pm

ARC Centre of Excellence Conference Room, JCU (DB44)
Christina Hicks, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

After starting life out as an inorganic chemist Christina travelled home to Kenya to reconnect with nature. She spent two years working on fisheries related issues with Dr Tim McClanahan. In this time she was responsible for the ongoing collection of fisheries statistics as well as the analysis of this ten year data set. She was also involved more broadly in fisheries issues, liaising with the Fisheries Department and Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. This work led her to a Masters degree at Newcastle University where her research took an ecological economics focus, assessing coral-reef social ecological systems. Prior to joining the Centre as a PhD student, Christina was involved in mapping the extent of interdisciplinary research in the Environmental Sciences with Prof Polunin. Supervised by Terry Hughes, Bob Pressey and Josh Cinner, her current research on ecosystem services has two key focuses: 1) understanding relationships between ecosystem service values and socio-economic characteristics 2) improving the integration of services conventionally overlooked (e.g. cultural services) into natural resource management and planning for conservation.


Recent rates of species and habitat losses, coupled with continued human population growth rates, have resulted in a loss in the provision and value of the goods and services humans derive from nature; or ecosystem services. Ecosystem service research has developed in part to redress this current trend, for declining ecosystem services, by incorporating ecosystem service values into decision making. Management, or the rules which govern natural resource use, have evolved in a variety of ways. Rules have arisen from within individual communities as well as through the involvement of external agencies. Whilst it may be possible for management to maximise all ecosystem services, approaches that only consider select values are more likely to experience unexpected losses. The impact these losses have on behaviour, and consequently the outcomes of management, will therefore also be unexpected. This PhD thesis examines how the values individuals assign to ecosystem services differs under alternate management regimes. The relationship between these values and key socio-economic conditions will be examined. Approaches that can account for all ecosystem service values will be better equipped to cope with losses, enabling management to adapt to local conditions whilst still incorporating broader objectives.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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