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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Winners and Losers in Coral Reefs: Access, Equity, and Ecosystem Services


Tuesday 15th March 2016 - 12:00 to 13:00 hrs.

Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building) Room #106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville
Jacqueline Lau
Jacqueline Lau

Abstract: Coral reefs support the livelihoods of millions of people in developing countries. Loss of biodiversity on coral reefs will therefore compromise human wellbeing. In recent decades, the ecosystem services approach has become the dominant way of expressing people’s reliance on nature. It aims to tackle the challenges of biodiversity loss and human development together, by articulating and valuing the role ecosystem services play in human wellbeing. However, to date, most ecosystem service studies have left out the mechanics and politics of how people access ecosystem services, who benefits, who does not, and why. These dynamics are crucial to wellbeing across the whole spectrum of social diversity, because they create patterns of winners and losers. To address these gaps, I draw on a range of social science disciplines including political ecology, access theory, and environmental justice to conduct three case studies in communities across the Western Indian Ocean and Oceania. Specifically, I will examine how different groups of people prioritise coral reef ecosystem services, how institutions influence people’s access to coral reef ecosystem services, and what resource users themselves perceive to be fair in access and management. My findings will extend beyond understanding coral reef ecosystem services, to how ecosystem services approaches to conservation can better incorporate and address winners and losers, ultimately strengthening the framework’s ability to address human wellbeing.

Jacqui is originally from Melbourne and completed a degree in sociology at the Australian National University. She specialised in environmental sociology, before pursuing an MPhil in Environment, Society and Development at the University of Cambridge. During her MPhil she studied the role of identity in an artisanal oyster fishery in The Gambia, which fostered her interest in the links between conservation and development in coastal communities. In 2015 she started a PhD at the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies under the supervision of Joshua Cinner and Christina Hicks. Her project investigates how ecosystem services approaches to conservation can better incorporate and address winners and losers.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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