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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Bob Pressey

Bob Pressey

Professor; Chief Investigator and Program 1 Leader

Conservation planner in marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments. Seven years as a private environmental consultant, working mainly on survey and conservation evaluation of freshwater wetlands. Nineteen years as a research scientist with the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service, focused on semi-arid and forest ecosystems. During work with the Parks Service, contributed to establishing the field of systematic conservation planning. Since 2007, a Professor and Chief Investigator at James Cook University's ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, with marine (as well as terrestrial and freshwater) research projects across Australia, through the Asia-Pacific region, and further afield.

BSc (Hons), USyd • MEnvStud, Macquarie University • PhD, University of New South Wales

James Cook University

+61 (0)7 4781 6194

Professor Bob Pressey is a Distinguished Professor in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. He leads the Centre’s Program 6: Conservation Planning. Bob’s research team focuses on spatial solutions to diverse resource management problems, involving the design of conservation areas and applications of a variety of conservation actions.

Bob’s students and postdocs work in marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments with study sites spread across and around Australia, through the Coral Triangle and Oceania, and further afield in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica and East Africa. By engaging with local communities, managers and policy makers, the team’s goal is to guide management that promotes the persistence and sustainable use of natural resources.

Bob is widely credited with establishing the important and emerging field of systematic conservation planning and continues to be recognised internationally as one of its leading proponents and innovators. Bob is widely known for the quality, number and impact of his publications. He is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher in Ecology/ Environment, in the top 0.1% of the field. Bob has also led a world-wide shift towards translating the concepts and techniques of systematic conservation planning into actual conservation decisions on the ground.

Research Interests

Curriculum vitae

Selected Publications:

Adams V, Pressey R and Álvarez-Romero J (2016) Using optimal land-use scenarios to assess trade-offs between conservation, development, and social values. PLoS ONE, 11 (6).

Arias A, Pressey R, Jones RAlvarez-Romero J and Cinner J (2016) Optimizing enforcement and compliance in offshore marine protected areas: a case study from Cocos Island, Costa Rica. Oryx, 50 (1). pp. 18-26

Bode M, Williamson D, Weeks RJones G, Almany G, Harrison H, Hopf J and Pressey R (2016) Planning marine reserve networks for both feature representation and demographic persistence using connectivity patterns. PLoS ONE, 11 (5). pp. 1-23

Bridge T, Grech A and Pressey R (2016) Factors influencing incidental representation of previously unknown conservation features in marine protected areas. Conservation Biology, 30 (1). pp. 154-165

Chacón A, Stoeckl NJarvis D and Pressey B (2016) Using insights about key factors impacting ‘quality of life’ to inform effective on-farm conservation programs: a case study in Northern Australia. Australasian Journal of Environmental Management, 23 (4). pp. 338-355

Cheok J, Pressey R, Weeks R, Andréfouët S and Moloney J (2016) Sympathy for the devil: detailing the effects of planning-unit size, thematic resolution of reef classes, and socioeconomic costs on spatial priorities for marine conservation. PLoS One, 11 (11). pp. 1-25

Dale A, Vella K, Pressey R, Brodie J, Gooch M, Potts R and Eberhard R (2016) Risk analysis of the governance system affecting outcomes in the Great Barrier Reef. Journal of Environmental Management, 183 (Part 3). pp. 712-721

Fuentes M, Chambers L, Chin A, Dann P, Dobbs K, Marsh H, Poloczanska E, Maison K, Turner M and Pressey R (2016) Adaptive management of marine mega-fauna in a changing climate.Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 21 (2). pp. 209-224

Grech A, Pressey R and Day J (2016) Coal, cumulative impacts, and the Great Barrier Reef.Conservation Letters, 9 (3). pp. 200-207

Gurney GCinner J, Sartin J, Pressey R, Ban N, Marshall N and Prabuning D (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. pp. 212-220

Magris R, Treml E, Pressey R and Weeks R (2016) Integrating multiple species connectivity and habitat quality into conservation planning for coral reefs. Ecography, 39 (7). pp. 649-664

Sheaves MColes R, Dale P, Grech A, Pressey R and Waltham N (2016) Enhancing the value and validity of EIA: serious science to protect Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Conservation Letters, 9 (5). pp. 377-383

Complete list of publications





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