The Conservation Planning Group Applied conservation research

Three minute thesis competition

Georgie and Amelia will be representing the Conservation Planning Group at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies‘ Three minute thesis competition. Good luck to them… and the other competitors of course!

When: Friday 1st August 2014; 15:00 to 16:00 (with drinks and nibbles following the competition)
Where: James Cook University Building 32 Room #114


Title: Marine protected areas (MPAs): how do they affect people?
Presented by: Georgina Gurney, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Georgina Gurney

Georgina Gurney

Abstract: Protected areas are employed worldwide in natural resource management, but their impact on people remains poorly understood. I evaluated how marine protected areas (MPAs) affect people’s wellbeing using a 5-year MPA project in Indonesia. I compared changes in wellbeing over time between villages with and without MPAs, and found that the MPA project did benefit people, but only during the project. This finding questions the short-term approach of many internationally-funded MPA projects that assume MPA activities and related impacts continue after projects finish. My results suggest MPA projects can benefit people, but short-term approaches are insufficient to ensure sustained benefits.

Biography: Georgina undertook her BSc in Tasmania, and her Honours research in the Philippines, where she used simulation modelling to explore potential reef futures under management and climatic scenarios. Georgina’s PhD research focuses broadly on how socioeconomic factors can be incorporated into planning processes for marine protected areas (MPAs), and has three key aims. First, she is investigating how to explicitly integrate socioeconomic factors into tools that are commonly used to design MPAs. Second, she is examining the relative role of multiple-scale factors in influencing stakeholders’ engagement in collective MPA management. Third, she is identifying the impacts of MPAs on associated human communities, including whether benefits and costs are equitably distributed. Georgina takes an interdisciplinary approach in addressing these research aims, drawing on theory and methods from a range of disciplines including social psychology, ecology, economics and human geography.


Title: Stop muddying the water, fish don’t like it!
Presented by: Amelia Wenger, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Amelia Wenger

Amelia Wenger

Abstract: This research focuses on the effects of suspended sediment on larvae and juvenile coral reef fishes. The work demonstrated that suspended sediment prolongs larval development, impairs habitat choice and home-range movement, reduces foraging ability, and changes predator/ prey interactions in several species of coral reef fish. This research has documented a hereto unknown threat to coral reef fishes and helps progress water quality management.

Biography: Amelia hails from Washington, D.C. She moved from New York City to Townsville in 2008 to get away from big city life. She completed her PhD at James Cook University in 2014. Her research examined the effects of suspended sediment on coral reef fish. Amelia is now a Postdoc in the Centre with Bob Pressey, working on prioritising islands in the Southern GBR and the Pilbara region of WA for management actions.


Title: From little things big reefs grow
Presented by: Tracy Ainsworth, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Title: Keep Calm and Just Keep Swimming
Presented by: Hugo Harrison, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Title: Time travelling sea creatures: jumping snails left grounded in future oceans
Presented by: Sue-Ann Watson, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

Title: Saving sea serpents using special scissors and a DNA vacuum.
Presented by: Blanch D’Anastasi, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

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About Us
We are a multidisciplinary group of researchers at James Cook University, interested in all aspects of conservation planning and led by Prof. Bob Pressey. We are based at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, the College of Marine & Environmental Sciences, the College of Business, Law & Governance, and the Cairns Institute. We collaborate widely with conservation biologists and practitioners worldwide. 

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