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

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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Using social-ecological histories to advance marine conservation


Thursday 6th AUGUST 9:00 to 10:00 hrs (AEST)

Jennifer Selgrath
Jennifer Selgrath

Abstract: Historical perspectives of ecosystems are critical for establishing baselines, setting restoration targets, and distinguishing novel ecosystem states from variability that has occurred in the past. Such perspectives can be particularly important when trying to understand current and future impacts of global change. However, long-term records of social and ecological dynamics are often missing and many ecological studies are too short to differentiate inter-annual variability from meaningful transformation. Using vignettes of kelp forests and small-scale fisheries, I will explore examples of how a long-term view can transform our understanding of current ecosystems. The first example will explore my ongoing work to evaluate biodiversity change in Monterey Bay, California (USA) over two hundred years (1820-2020). This project brings a new perspective to the role of sea otters in shaping kelp forests, and considers approaches for tracking spatial and temporal shifts in biodiversity. My second example come from the central Philippines, and explores six decades of changes in the sustainability and spatial dynamics of these diverse coral reef fisheries. I’ll discuss how longitudinal perspectives can inform strategies for managing human pressures on contemporary oceans.

Biography: Dr. Jennifer Selgrath is a spatial ecologist and social scientist with the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary’s (CINMS) Science Team. She incorporates spatial and social-ecological tools into research, monitoring, conservation, and collaborative management of coastal ecosystems. Prior to joining CINMS, she was a Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University where she assessed biodiversity changes in Monterey Bay over the past two centuries. As a post-doc she also explored factors supporting the adaptive capacity of coastal fishing communities to climate change. Jennifer completed her PhD at the University of British Columbia. Her PhD research focused on understanding long-term changes in the sustainability of small-scale fisheries, the influence of fisheries governance, and the impacts of fishing and other stressors on the resilience of coral reefs. Jennifer earned her M.Sc. in Biology from San Diego State University and her bachelor degree from Wesleyan University. She is a former AmeriCorps volunteer and a former Fulbright Scholar.


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