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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Jorge G. Álvarez-Romero

Jorge G. Álvarez-Romero

Senior Research Fellow

Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, James Cook University (2022 to date)

Senior Research Fellow, ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University (2020-2021)

Research Fellow, ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University (2012-2019)

Casual research and GIS support, TropWater, James Cook University (2011-2012)

Mexico’s CITES Scientific Authority Coordinator, CONABIO (2003-2008)

PhD, James Cook University (2012)

Program 1: People and Ecosystems; The Conservation Planning Group

James Cook University

+61 07 4781 6517

Professional experience

Senior Research Fellow, Integrated land-sea planning, ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University (2020-2021)

Research Fellow, NESP Northern Australia, ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University (2016-2020)

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, NERP Northern Australia, ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University (2012-2015)

Casual research and GIS support, Marine Monitoring Program, TropWater, James Cook University (2011-2012)

Mexico’s CITES Scientific Authority Coordinator, CONABIO (2003-2008)

Curriculum vitae

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Short bio

I studied Biology at the National University of Mexico (UNAM), where I conducted research to inform the management of invasive terrestrial vertebrates. While working at the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (Conabio), I did a Masters in management, conservation and international wildlife trade at the International University of Andalusia (UNIA), Spain. My work at Conabio guided policy and practice for the conservation, management, and sustainable use and trade of wildlife in Mexico and internationally. My PhD in Systematic Conservation Planning (James Cook University) focused on integrated land-sea planning in the Gulf of California. I’m currently working on integrated catchment and marine planning at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies as part of the Conservation Planning Research Group.

Research Interests

I am interested in improving spatial planning for natural resource use to achieve long-term sustainability and positive outcomes for people and their environment. Broadly, my research aims to advance systematic conservation planning theory and practice through promoting and improving the integration of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine conservation planning initiatives.

My research explores theoretical and methodological aspects of decision-making problems associated with an integrated land-sea planning approach. For example, cost-effective mitigation of cross-system threats (e.g. land-based pollution affecting marine and freshwater ecosystems), identifying co-benefits and tradeoffs associated with different land/water uses and management decisions (e.g. spatial congruence between local and downstream land values), and improving collaboration among stakeholders with diverse (and sometimes conflicting) objectives across the land-to-sea continuum. My current research includes participatory scenario planning to inform land-water use and integrated catchment management and designing reserve networks considering ecological connectivity and the effects of global warming.

Selected publications 

Kiatkoski Kim, M., J.G. Álvarez-Romero, K. Wallace, D. Dannell, R. Hill, V. Adams, M. Douglas, R. Pressey. 2022. Participatory multi-stakeholder assessment of alternative development scenarios in contested landscapes. Sustainability Science 17: 221–241

Hill, R., P. Harkness, N. Raisbeck-Brown, I. Lyons, I., J.G. Álvarez-Romero, M. Kiatkoski Kim et al., 2022. Learning Together for and with the Martuwarra Fitzroy River. Sustainability Science 17: 351–375

Kiatkoski Kim, M., M. Douglas, D. Pannell, S. Setterfield, R. Hill, S. Laborde, L. Perrott, J.G. Álvarez-Romero, L. Beesley, C. Canham, A. Brecknell. 2022. When to Use Transdisciplinary Approaches for Environmental Research. Frontiers in Environmental Science 10: 840569

Grantham, R., J.G. Álvarez-Romero, D. Mills, C. Rojas, G. Cumming. 2021. Spatiotemporal determinants of seasonal gleaning. People and Nature 3: 376-390

Hughes, T., J. Kerry, S. Connolly, J.G. Alvarez-Romero, M. Eakin, S. Heron, M. Gonzalez, J. Moneghetti. 2021. Emergent properties in the responses of tropical corals to recurrent climate extremes. Current Biology 31: 5393-5399

Murray, N., E. Kennedy, J.G. Álvarez-Romero, M. Lyons. 2021. Data freshness in ecology and conservation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 36, 485-487

Sykora-Bodie, S., J.G. Álvarez-Romero, V. Adams, G. Gurney, J. Cleary, R. Pressey, N. Ban. 2021. Methods for identifying spatially referenced conservation needs and opportunities. Biological Conservation 260: 109138

Sykora-Bodie, S., J.G. Álvarez-Romero, J. Arata, A. Dunn, J. Hinke, G. Humphries, et al., 2021. Using forecasting methods to incorporate social, economic, and political considerations into marine protected area planning. Frontiers in Marine Science 8: 908

Cockerell, B., R. Pressey, A. Grech, A., J.G. Álvarez-Romero, T. Ward, R. Devillers. 2020. Representation does not necessarily reduce threats to biodiversity: Australia’s Commonwealth marine protected area system, 2012–2018. Biological Conservation 252: 108813

Adams, V., M. Mills, R. Weeks, D. Segan, R. Pressey, G. Gurney, C. Groves, F. Davis, J. G. Álvarez-Romero. 2019. Implementation strategies for systematic conservation planning. Ambio 48: 139-152

Álvarez-Romero, J. G., M. Mills, V. Adams, G. Gurney, R. Pressey, R. Weeks, N. Ban, J. Cheok, T. Davies, J. Day, M. Hamel, H. Leslie, R. Magris, C. Storlie. 2018. Research advances and gaps in marine planning_ towards a global database in systematic conservation planning. Biological Conservation 27: 369-382

Álvarez-Romero, J. G., A. Munguía-Vega, M. Beger, M. Mancha-Cisneros, A. Suárez-Castillo, G. Gurney, R. Pressey, L. Gerber, H. Morzaria-Luna, H. Reyes-Bonilla, V. Adams, M. Kolb, E. Graham, J. VanDerWal, A. Castillo-López, G. Hinojosa-Arango, D. Petatán-Ramírez, M. Moreno-Baez, C. Godínez-Reyes, J. Torre. 2018. Designing connected marine reserves in the face of global warming. Global Change Biology 24: e671-e691

Adams, V., J. G. Álvarez-Romero, S. Capon, G. Crowley, A. Dale, M. Kennard, M. Douglas, R. Pressey. 2017. Making time for space: the critical role of spatial planning in adapting natural resource management to climate change. Environmental Science and Policy 74: 57–67

Hughes, T., J. Kerry, M. Álvarez-Noriega, J. G. Álvarez-Romero, K. Anderson, A. Baird et al. 2017. Global warming and recurrent mass bleaching of corals. Nature 543 (7645): 373-7

Wenger, A., G. Ahmadia, J. G. Álvarez-Romero, M. Barnes, J. Blythe, J. Brodie, J. Day, H. Fox, D. Gill, N. Gomez, G. Gurney, K. Holmes, S. Jupiter, J. Lamb, S. Mangubhai, E. Matthews, K. Matthews, R. Pressey, L. Teneva, A. Tewfik, S. Wells, E. Darling. 2017. Coral Reef Conservation Solution-Scape White Paper. Wildlife Conservation Society, NY, USA

Adams, V., R. Pressey, J. G. Álvarez-Romero. 2016. Using optimal land-use scenarios to assess tradeoffs between conservation, development, and social values. PLoS ONE 11: e0158350

Álvarez-Romero, J. G., R. Pressey, N. Ban, J. Brodie. 2015. Advancing land-sea conservation planning: integrating modelling of catchments, land-use change, and river plumes to prioritise catchment management and protection. PLoS ONE 10: e0145574

Álvarez-Romero, J. G., V. Adams, R. Pressey, M. Douglas, A. Dale, A. Augé, D. Ball, J. Childs, M. Digby, R. Dobbs, N. Gobius, D. Hinchley, I. Lancaster, M. Maughan, I. Perdrisat. 2015. Integrated cross-realm planning: a decision-makers perspective. Biological Conservation 191: 799-808

Gurney, G., R. Pressey, N. Ban,  J. G. Álvarez-Romero, S. Jupiter, V. Adams. 2015. Integrating socioeconomic considerations into conservation planning: stakeholders-specific objectives produced more efficient and equitable designs in a marine protected area case study from Fiji. Conservation Biology 29: 1378-1389

Stoeckl, N., T. Chaiechi, M. Farr, D. Jarvis, J. G. Álvarez-Romero, M. J. Kennard, V. Hermoso, R. Pressey. 2015. Co-benefits and tradeoffs between agriculture and conservation: a case study in Northern Australia. Biological Conservation 191: 478-494

Álvarez-Romero, J. G., S. N. Wilkinson, R. Pressey, N. Ban, J. Kool, J. Brodie. 2014. Modeling catchment nutrients and sediment loads to inform regional management of water quality in coastal-marine ecosystems: a comparison of two approaches. Journal of Environmental Management 146: 164-178

Adams, V., J. G. Álvarez-Romero, J. Carwardine, L. Cattarino, V. Hermoso, M. Kennard, S. Linke, R. Pressey, N. Stoeckl. 2014. Planning across freshwater and terrestrial realms: co-benefits and tradeoffs between conservation actions. Conservation Letters 7: 425-440

Mills, M., J. G. Álvarez-Romero, K. Vance-Borland, H. Ernstson, P. Cohen, A. Guerrero, R. Pressey. 2014. Linking regional planning and local action: towards using social network analysis in systematic conservation planning. Biological Conservation 169: 6-13

Álvarez-Romero, J. G., R. Pressey, N. Ban, J. Torre-Cosío, O. Aburto-Oropeza. 2013. Marine conservation planning in practice: lessons learned from the Gulf of California. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 23: 483-505

Visconti, P., M. Di Marco, J. G. Álvarez-Romero, S. Januchowski-Hartley, R. Pressey, R. Weeks, C. Rondinini. 2013. Effects of errors and gaps in spatial data sets on assessment of conservation progress. Conservation Biology 27: 1000-1010

Álvarez-Romero, J. G., M. Devlin, E. Teixeira da Silva, C. Petus, N. Ban, R. Pressey, J. Kool, J. Roberts, S. Cerdeira-Estrada, A. Wenger, J. Brodie. 2013. A novel approach to model exposure of coastal-marine ecosystems to riverine flood plumes based on remote sensing techniques. Journal of Environmental Management 119: 194-207

Ban, N., S. Januchowski-Hartley, J. G. Álvarez-Romero, M. Mills, R. Pressey, S. Linke, D. de Freitas. 2013. Marine and freshwater conservation planning: from representation to persistence. In: Conservation Planning: Shaping the Future. L. Craighead and C. Convis (editors). ESRI Press, Redlands, CA

Álvarez-Romero, J. G., R. Pressey, N. Ban, K. Vance-Borland, C. Willer, C. Klein, S. Gaines. 2011. Integrated land-sea conservation planning: the missing links. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 42: 381-409

Major recent projects

Multi-objective planning in northern Australia: Given the proposed expansion of developments in northern Australia and tensions among stakeholders, there is a need to develop and trial spatially-explicit tools to guide planning that support multiple uses of land and water that maintain environmental and cultural values. This project aims to operationalise multi-objective catchment planning. Stakeholders can collaboratively construct and assess the outcomes of alternative development scenarios (including identifying and managing potential co-benefits and tradeoffs between objectives). We followed a participatory scenario planning approach in collaboration with stakeholders in the Fitzroy River catchment, Kimberley Region, Western Australia.

Marine reserve networks in the Gulf of California: Overfishing and climate change threaten marine biodiversity and fisheries. Addressing these problems is critical in areas of high species richness and endemicity, such as the Midriff Islands, Gulf of California (Mexico), where livelihoods of coastal communities are threatened by depletion of fish stocks and potential loss of species associated with climate change. In collaboration with fishers, government agencies, and NGOs, we are guiding the design and implementation of a network of marine reserves for this priority conservation area. We developed a novel approach to designing marine reserve networks that consider the effects of ocean warming on larval connectivity (see video).


Australian Research Council Pandora

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