SEMINAR: Expert to deliver on coral reef bright spots Prof. Josh Cinner

Visiting from James Cook University, Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies Prof. Josh Cinner is an expert reef biodiversity conservation. He focuses on socioeconomic factors which can influence the way people use, perceive and govern coral reefs and will be visiting the University of Adelaide to deliver a public seminar titled:

Locating and learning from bright spots among the world’s coral reefs

Date: Wednesday, 27th November 2019
Time: 11:00am-12:00pm
Location: Benham Lecture Theatre, University of Adelaide
Bookings: Not required, but please add to your calendar

Prof. Cinner began his career as an environmental social scientist while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica in the mid 1990s. He has since completed a Master’s degree from the University of Rhode Island in 2000 and a PhD from James Cook University in 2006.

Josh’s research explores how social, economic, and cultural factors influence the ways in which people use, perceive, and govern natural resources. His background is in human geography and he often works closely with ecologists to uncover complex linkages between social and ecological systems. He has worked on human dimensions of marine conservation in Australia, Jamaica, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania, Seychelles, Indonesia, Mozambique, and the USA.

He has published >135 peer-reviewed journal articles and a book published by Oxford University Press. Josh is a Full Professor at James Cook University, and has received numerous awards, including Fellowship in the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, an ARC Future Fellowship, a Pew Fellowship in Marine Conservation, the Elinor Ostrom Award on collective governance of the commons, the mid-career award from the International Coral Reef Society, and is a Clairvate Analytics “Highly Cited” author.

Seminar outline from Prof. Josh Cinner:

The continuing and rapid global decline of coral reefs calls for new approaches to sustain reefs and the millions of people who depend on them. In this talk, I present ongoing work by my research group aimed at rethinking reef conservation along two lines.

First is directly confronting the drivers of change. In addition to environmental factors, there are socioeconomic drivers that influence the condition of coral reef ecosystems, though reef governance rarely focus on explicitly managing these. My colleagues and I analysed data from >1800 tropical reef sites worldwide to quantify how key socioeconomic and environmental drivers are related to reef fish biomass, a key indicator of ecosystem condition and resource availability.

Our global analysis reveals that the strongest driver of reef fish biomass is our metric of potential interactions with urban centres (market gravity), with important, but smaller, roles of local management, human demographics, socioeconomic development, and environmental conditions. These results highlight multiple underutilized policy levers that could help to sustain coral reefs, such as dampening the negative impact of markets. Second, drawing on theory and practice in human health and rural development, we use a positive deviance (bright spots) analysis to systematically identify coral reefs that have substantially higher biomass than expected, given their socioeconomic and environmental conditions.

Importantly, bright spots were not simply comprised of remote areas with low fishing pressure – they include localities where human populations and use of ecosystems resources is high, potentially providing novel insights into how communities have successfully confronted strong drivers of change. Uncovering the mechanisms that underpin the ability of bright spots to confront high pressures may form a basis for novel policy approaches.

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