Data Deficient Marine VertebratesExploring data gaps, extinction risk, and exploitation

Leslie Roberson

This project is assembling a time series of assessments and conservation statuses of marine mammals, reptiles, and fish. Many species in these groups are charismatic apex predators and valuable as conservation flagship species, yet a large number remain “data deficient.” This project aims to 1) explore taxonomic and geographic patterns in non-volant marine vertebrates listed as data deficient over time 2) collate risk assessment methods developed for different taxonomic groups and 3) analyze current harvest of data deficient or threatened species.

Predicting the utility of MPAs to inform planning

This project supports the State of Hawai’i’s efforts to meet the goal of protecting 30% of nearshore resources by 2030.

Lindsay Veazey

We are adapting the Hawai’i Reef Simulator (HIReefSim; Weijerman et al., in prep) model to forecast the outcomes of Marine Protected Area placement and management on the status of Hawaiian coral reef ecosystems. We are using predictive modelling to evaluate changes in whole ecosystem health, fisheries, and fisheries sustainability. Using the Hawai’i Reef Simulator (HIReefSim; Weijerman et al., in prep) model, Marxan and Prioritizr we are forecasting the outcomes of planned new MPAs, Community managed Marine Areas, and gear restrictions placement and management on the status of Hawaiian coral reef ecosystems in collaboration with TNC, DAR, DLNR and the State of Hawaii.

Decision science to understand costs, benefits and ecosystem service implications of water quality management in Upcountry Maui.

A cocktail of land-based sources of pollution threatens coral reef ecosystems, and addressing these has become a key management and policy challenge in Hawaii, US and territories, and globally.  The Hawai`i State Department of Health (DOH) has been tasked by the legislature with identifying priority areas for cesspool upgrades across the state. The work forms part of a foundational collaboration designed to strengthen links between DoH and academia, and provide independent evidence-based policy advice. We are working on decision analysis problems in West Maui and Upcountry Maui, two critical regions, with the objective of reducing nearshore coral reef exposure to nutrient pollution and meeting water quality standards. The decision science approach is relevant to a broader context of coastal areas struggling with identifying pollution mitigation actions on limited budgets. It is applicable across HI, the USA and in coastal systems worldwide. A wonderful collaboration with the OlesonLab and Roger Babcock at the Water Resources Research Centre (WRRC) at the University of Hawaii, and We are looking forward to bringing on a new PhD student soon!

MPAs as Social-ecological systems

Megan Fraser is currently completing a minor project at James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, AUS, that focuses on governance theory of common pool resources and management effectiveness evaluation tools and how both relate to MPA outcomes in Eastern Indonesia.  actively seeks to de-mystify the successes and failures of MPAs through interdisciplinary research and monitoring with a host of socio-ecological partners. Ultimately, the goal is to achieve long-term marine resource sustainability through the implementation of policies that incorporate all relevant stakeholder groups. This goal is both extremely interesting, as well as globally and locally relevant, for all of the millions of people worldwide who depend on marine resources for their livelihoods and wellbeing. Part of my ongoing collaboration with the WWF-US MPA Mystery initiative (, and a new and fun collaboration with the Livelihoods Lab at JCU, Megan is supervised by Dr. Amy Diedrich (JCU) and myself.

For more information, contact Megan:

Tourism and MPAs in Eastern Indonesia

Siobhan Threlfall is conducting a minor project focused on the relationship between social and ecological outcomes and tourism in MPAs in Eastern Indonesia. It involves mapping tourism activity across the Birds Head Seascape (BHS) of Indonesia, and the Sunda Banda Seascape (SBS) of Eastern Indonesia. As well as conducting spatial analyses of how this articulates with key variables in social and ecological domains. Siobhan’s work also forms part of my ongoing collaboration with the WWF-US MPA Mystery initiative (, which seeks to achieve the long-term sustainability of marine resources by investigating the successes and failures of MPAs in providing conservation and poverty alleviation benefits, and the Livelihoods Lab at JCU.

For more information, contact Siobhan: