University of Exeter Professor Peter Mumby Awarded
2010 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation
Three-year Project to Identify and Protect Resilient Coral Reefs
WASHINGTON – Peter Mumby, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, has been awarded a 2010 Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation for his project to develop scientific models that will identify which coral reef systems are most resilient to, or can best withstand, environmental threats. He will use these models to promote a network of marine reserves around the Bahamas.
The Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation is a prestigious program that gives recipients US$150,000 for a three-year scientific research or conservation project designed to address critical challenges facing our oceans. Dr. Mumby’s fellowship will combine otherwise unrelated datasets, such as hurricane risk, ocean pollution, interactions between coral reefs and corals’ reaction to stress, all of which contribute to the “resilience” of coral reefs. This integrated research approach will better inform decisions about which reef systems have the greatest chance for survival and would benefit from additional protection. Dr. Mumby will work closely with partners at the Bahamas National Trust, The Nature Conservancy and Bahamas Department for Marine Resources in order to provide scientific support for on-going plans to develop networks of marine reserves.
“Because coral reefs are vulnerable to so many different threats, it is crucial we put resources toward reefs that have the greatest opportunity for long-term survival,” said Dr. Mumby. “The Pew Marine Fellowship offers an opportunity to develop the models needed make management decisions that best protect coral reefs.”
Coral reefs, like other marine life, are facing a myriad of threats, including climate change. Although rising sea levels, more intense hurricanes, increasing ocean acidification and water temperatures all greatly impact coral reefs, these impacts are difficult to address through specific management decisions. Instead, managers often focus their efforts on protecting coral reefs that demonstrate greater natural resilience. Yet, reef systems may be resilient to some threats but not to others, making these management decisions difficult. Dr. Mumby’s project will develop a method for presenting an overall picture of coral reefs’ resistance to multiple threats in order to better inform management decisions.
“Coral reefs are home to extraordinary marine life and are essential to the functioning of many ocean ecosystems,” said Joshua S. Reichert, managing director of the Pew Environment Group. “Dr. Mumby’s project to map the resilience of coral reefs using innovative modeling techniques will go a long way toward ensuring their long-term protection.”
Dr. Mumby received his doctorate degree from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. His work as a marine ecologist primarily focuses on tropical coastal ecosystems, and his field work spans the Caribbean and Pacific with long-term research interests in Belize, the Bahamas and Palau. In April 2010, Dr. Mumby will move from the University of Exeter to the University of Queensland School of Biological Sciences to take up a prestigious Laureate Fellowship funded by the Australian Research Council.
Since 1996, the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation has awarded 115 fellowships to individuals from 30 countries. The Pew Fellowships in Marine Conservation fund science and other projects that address critical challenges in the conservation of the ocean, including communication of project information to increase awareness of global marine issues. Through a rigorous nomination and review process, an international committee of marine specialists selects Pew Fellows based on the strengths of their proposed projects, including their potential to protect ocean environments. Five unique and timely projects led by outstanding professionals in their fields are chosen annually, targeting individuals who are mid-career. The program is managed by the Pew Environment Group, based in Washington, D.C.
More information about each of the 2010 Pew Fellows in Marine Conservation, including photographs and a Google Earth Tour of the recipients, are available at http://www.pewmarinefellows.org/2010.
The Pew Environment Group is the conservation arm of The Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-governmental organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improving public policy, informing the public and stimulating civic life.