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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Patrick Smallhorn-West

Patrick Smallhorn-West

Research Fellow

Postdoctoral Fellowship on Conservation NGOs and human rights in Small-Scale Fisheries

PhD (2020), BSc with with 1st Class Honours (2014)

James Cook University

My research focuses on the intersection between conservation and food security, with a particular focus on small-scale fisheries, which account for 90% of all fishers and 50% of global fisheries yields. While my background is in coral reef ecology, I take an interdisciplinary approach to my research, incorporating fisheries science, community-based resource management, conservation planning, and impact evaluation. Most of my research has focused on coral reef management in the South Pacific region (in particular Solomon Islands and Tonga).

I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, jointly appointed by the Wildlife Conservation Society, WorldFish, and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University (ARC CoE). In this capacity, I aim to assess whether the policies and practices of international conservation NGOs support and promote human rights of small-scale fishers. This research will draw on the Human Rights Based Approach outlined in the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries.

Prior to my current position, I held a similar joint position between WorldFish and the ARC CoE examining the resilience of small-scale fisheries co-management in Solomon Islands. From 2016 – 2019 I completed my PhD while being based in the Kingdom of Tonga, where I collaborated with the Ministry of Fisheries to inform the design and implemention of a national monitoring program covering 350 coral reefs. This collaboration involved a rigorous impact evaluation of the Ministry of Fisheries’ community-based fisheries management program and a network of over 50 locally-managed marine protected areas. Additionally, I collaborated with NASA to lead two research expeditions examining the resilience and recovery of coral reef ecosystems located in the remote outer waters of Tonga following the massive eruption of the Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai volcano.


Google Scholar

Smallhorn-West et al. (2022) Patters of catch and trophic signature illustrate diverse management requirements of coastal fisheries in Solomon IslandsAmbio, 119

Tilley, A., et al. “Increasing social and ecological resilience of coastal fisheries.” (2021).

Morais, R., Siqueira, A., Smallhorn-West, P., & Bellwood, D. (2021). Spatial subsidies drive sweet spots of tropical marine biomass production. PLoS biology19(11), e3001435.

FAO (2021) Characteristics and performance of fisheries co-management in Asia: Synthesis of knowledge and case studies: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Philippines, and Sri Lanka. 116pp

Bongaerts, P., Cooke, I., Ying, H., Wels, D., den Haan, S., Hernandez-Agreda, A., … & Hoegh-Guldberg, O. (2021). Morphological stasis masks ecologically divergent coral species on tropical reefsCurrent Biology.

Gordon, S. E., Wingfield, M., Smallhorn-West, P., Malimali, S., Halafihi, T. I., Schoeman, D. S., & Southgate, P. C. (2021). Spatio-temporal variation in growth performance and condition of the winged pearl oyster Pteria penguin. Frontiers in Marine Science.

Smallhorn-West P., Sheehan J., Rodriguez-Troncoso A., Malimali S., Halafihi T., Mailau S., Le’ota A., Ceccarelli D., Stone K., Pressey B., Jones G. (2020) Kingdom of Tonga Special Management Area report 2020. 86 p. http://purl.org/spc/digilib/doc/iwyna

Smallhorn-West P, Stone K, Ceccarelli D, Malimali S, Halafihi H, Wyatt M, Bridge T, Pressey B, Jones G (2020) Biophysical and anthropogenic influences on the status of Tonga’s coral reefs and reef fish fishery. Plos One

Smallhorn-West P, Sheehan J, Stone K, Ceccarelli D, Malimali S, Halafihi H, Bridge T, Pressey B, Jones G (2020) Community management yields positive impacts for coastal fisheries resources and biodiversity conservation. Conservation Letters

Smallhorn-West, P., Sheehan J, Stone K, Malimali S, Halafihi H, Bridge T, Pressey B, Jones G (2020) Incentivizing co-management for impact: mechanisms driving the successful national expansion of Tonga’s Special Management Area program. Conservation Letters e12742

Smallhorn-West, P., Gordon S, Dempsey A, Purkis S, Malimali S, Halafihi T, Southgate P, Bridge T, Pressey B, Jones G (2020) Tongan socio-environmental spatial layers for marine ecosystem management. Pacific conservation biology 

Smallhorn-West P, Garvin J, Slayback D, DeCarlo T, Gordon S, Fitzgerald S, Halafihi T, Jones G, Bridge T (2019) Coral reef annihilation, persistence and recovery at Earth’s youngest volcanic island. Coral reefs

Smallhorn-West P, Weeks R, Gurney G, Pressey B (2019) Ecological and socioeconomic impacts of marine protected areas in the South Pacific: assessing the evidence base. Biodiversity and conservation

Smallhorn-West, P, (2019) Progress towards conserving Tonga’s coral reefs. SPC Fisheries Bulletin

Darling et al. (2019) Socio-environmental drivers inform strategic management of coral reefs in the Anthropocene. Nature ecology and evolution.

Smallhorn-West P, Bridge T, Malimali S, Pressey R, Jones G. (2019) Predicting impact to determine the efficacy of community-based marine reserve design. Conservation letters. DOI: 10.1111/conl.12602

Smallhorn-West P, Govan H (2018) Towards reducing misrepresentation of national achievements in marine protected area targets. Marine policy 97, 127-129

Smallhorn-West, P., Bridge, T., Munday, P. & Jones, G (2017) Habitat quality constrains the depth-distribution and growth rate of a coral-associated reef fish. Marine Ecological Progress Series.

Smallhorn-West, P., Bridge, T., Munday, P. & Jones, G (2016) Depth distribution and abundance of a coral-associated reef fish: roles of recruitment and post-recruitment processes. Coral Reefs. DOI 10.1007/s00338-016-1509-x



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