Professor Nick Graham

Lancaster University


Nick is a Royal Society University Research Fellow and a Chair in Marine Ecology. Having completed his PhD at Newcastle University in the UK, he spent 7 years at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, at James Cook University, Australia. He returned to the UK in 2015 for his current post in the Lancaster Environment Centre. His research tackles large scale ecosystem science, using both ecological and social-ecological approaches. Much of his focus is in the Indian Ocean, but he also has field sites in the Pacific, and collaborates on global studies.

Research Interests

Nick’s research tackles coral reef issues under the overarching themes of climate change, human use and resilience. Three key areas he is currently focussed on are:

The Changing Ecology and Functioning of Coral Reefs.
This research seeks to assess the changing ecology of coral reef ecosystems under climate change and human use, including alterations to productivity and functioning of the ecosystem. Specifically the project is quantifying the changing composition of coral reefs across the Indian Ocean in response to climate change and other anthropogenic impacts, assessing the top-down (i.e. fishing) versus bottom-up (i.e. habitat composition) influences on the productivity of coral reef fisheries, and assessing how ecosystem functions differ under alternate scenarios of direct human use and climate impacts.

Spatial Nutrient Subsidy Implications for Productivity, Functioning, and Recovery.
Seabirds vector large quantities of nutrients from pelagic oceanic ecosystems back to islands. These nutrients can leach into nearshore coral reef environments, boosting productivity and functioning of coral reef fish communities. This research theme is investigating how seabird nutrients influence coral reef recovery dynamics, and reef fish productivity. The timescales over which nutrient subsidy benefits are restored following the removal of invasive rats (and subsequent recovery of seabird populations) is also being investigated.

Linking Coral Reef Social-Ecological Systems.
Many solutions to environmental problems lie in understanding how humans interact with the environment. Nick collaborates with social scientists to combine ecological and social data. This work tackles issues such as identifying the underlying social drivers behind marine ecosystem collapse, uncovering the social and ecological outcomes of differing management approaches, determining the environmental and social drivers of coral reef ecosystem functioning, assessing how ecosystem change influences the delivery of ecosystem services to people, and uncovering how coral reef fisheries can be managed to improve food security.

Nature video on seabird nutrient vectoring paper

Seminar on Maintaining ecosystems and livelihoods in the face of climate change

Selected Publications