Our Research Themes
Movement of nutrients through the ecosystem across a range of scales maintains key functions essential to healthy coral reefs. In social systems, people’s actions are shaped by both individual and societal factors; thus, interactions across space and time influence outcomes for people and nature.
To understand how coral reef social-ecological systems operate, we conduct research at a range of scales, and try to understand the linkages and flows among them.
Examples of the projects we are working on in this area include:
- Implications of animal behaviour for species diversity and distributions – Sally Keith, Rachel Gunn
- Assessing the ecological implications of spatial nutrient subsides from seabirds –Casey Benkwitt, Nick Graham
- Financialisation of fisheries and the rise of the Blue Economy – Jens Christiansen, Christina Hicks
Culture, Livelihoods & Governance
The critical importance of fish in addressing micronutrient deficiencies and closing food security gaps is an emerging field that we tackle from ecological, societal, and health perspectives. The continuing productivity of fisheries themselves is in jeopardy as reefs decline and societal demand increases. We assess the drivers of fisheries condition including continuing ecosystem function, the management and underlying social factors that lead to sustainability, and the impacts of reef decline on fisheries composition and yields.
Major changes to systems of ocean governance are altering how power, finance, and agency are distributed. We critically evaluate these processes to explore the emergent beneficiaries and outcomes.
Key research areas in this theme include:
- Food cultures and nutritional security from fisheries – Christina Hicks, James Robinson, Eva Maire, Nick Graham
- Fisheries management, drivers, and response to reef degradation – James Robinson, Jeneen Hadj-Hammou, Nick Graham, Christina Hicks, Mark Hamilton
- Vulnerability and adaptive capacity of social-ecological systems to change – Christina Hicks
We investigate the changing structure, composition and functioning of coral reefs in the Indian and Pacific oceans, and the consequent implications on people of these changes. This includes assessing reef responses to climate change, fishing and nutrients. In particular, coral mortality has knock-on effects for the rest of the ecosystem through altered nutrient flows, food resources and structural complexity.
We also seek to understand and potentially manipulate feedbacks to enhance key processes that aid recovery of degraded reefs.
- Changing reef configurations, feedbacks and resilience – James Robinson, Nick Graham
- Ecological responses to climate change, fishing and nutrients – Sam Howlett, Sally Keith, Nick Graham
- Influence of ecosystem change on ecosystem services, human health and wellbeing – Christina Hicks