Professor Bob Pressey is a Professor in the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. He leads the Centre’s Program 6: Conservation Planning. Bob’s research team focuses on spatial solutions to diverse resource management problems, involving the design of conservation areas and applications of a variety of conservation actions.

Bob’s students and postdocs work in marine, freshwater and terrestrial environments with study sites spread across and around Australia, through the Coral Triangle and Oceania, and further afield in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica and East Africa. By engaging with local communities, managers and policy makers, the team’s goal is to guide management that promotes the persistence and sustainable use of natural resources.

Bob is widely credited with establishing the important and emerging field of systematic conservation planning and continues to be recognised internationally as one of its leading proponents and innovators. Bob is widely known for the quality, number and impact of his publications. He is an ISI Highly Cited Researcher in Ecology/ Environment, in the top 0.1% of the field. Bob has also led a world-wide shift towards translating the concepts and techniques of systematic conservation planning into actual conservation decisions on the ground.

  • Planning for a changing world. Conservation planning that promotes the persistence of natural processes in the context of climate change and shifting human uses of land and sea.
  • Integrated land-sea planning. Planning to incorporate ecological connections between land and sea and limit the downstream impacts of cross-system threats.
  • The value of information. Understanding and accounting for the limitations of data; rigorous testing of surrogates for biodiversity, costs and social aspects of conservation opportunity; finding the balance between investment in additional information to guide planning and investment in conservation actions.
  • People and conservation. Conservation planning incorporating socio-economic factors and livelihood and governance considerations into spatial prioritisation.
  • Decision-support systems. Development of innovative and interactive decision-support tools to enable stakeholders to explore different conservation options and prioritise different management actions.
  • Linking plans to effective actions. Developing approaches to engaging with agencies, NGOs, statutory authorities and community groups as well as developing an implementation strategy to guide the process of moving between regional designs and local actions.
  • Measuring conservation outcomes. Monitoring and evaluating the outcomes of conservation planning and on-ground actions to contribute to policy and adaptive learning.
  • 2007 to present - Chief Investigator, ARC Centre for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2006 to 2007 - Professorial Research Fellow, The Ecology Centre, University of Queensland (Brisbane)
  • 1986 to 2005 - Research Scientist, NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (Sydney, Armidale)
  • 1979 to 1986 - Environmental Consultant, N/A (Sydney)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2012 - Eminent Scientists Group, WWF Australia
  • 2008 - Australian Ecology Research Award
  • 2007 - Thomas Jefferson Foundation Visiting Professorship at University of Virginia
  • 2006 - Institute for Scientific Information Highly Cited Researcher in Ecology/Environment
  • 2006 - Govenor, WWF Australia
  • 2004 - New South Wales Premier’s Public Sector Awards – Environment Award for the C-Plan conservation planning project
  • 2002 - Royal Botanic Gardens Eureka Prize for Biodiversity Research
  • 2001 - The Society for Conservation Biology’s Edward T. LaRoe III Award
  • 2009 to 2020 - James Cook University Distinguished Professor
  • 2012 - Australia-India Senior Visiting Fellowship
  • 2010 - Australian Academy of Science

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 239+ research outputs authored by Prof Bob Pressey from 2000 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

SeaWorld Research and Rescue Foundation Inc - Research Grant

Assessing potential for recreational fishers to contribute to management and conservation of coastal marine ecosystems

Indicative Funding
$17,880 over 3 years
The proposed research project aims to assess natural resource management tools in place on the GBR via two primary inquiries: First, stress and survivorship of popular native sport fish, Lutjanus johnii, subjected to catch-and-release fishing will be investigated using blood chemistry assays to quantify stress response, and acoustic telemetry to track fish movements that indicate survivorship. Second, movements of the fish between fished and no-fishing zones will be tracked via passive acoustic telemetry in order to assess marine protected area design effectiveness in protecting the species from harvest. Insights to roles of recreational fishers in conservation will be provided.
Bob Pressey and Jeremy Raynal in collaboration with Adam Barnett (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Habitat conservation; Recreational Fishing; Outdoor recreation; Catch-and-release; Coastal Resource Management; Recreation conservation organisations

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Environmental Science Programme (NESP) - Northern Australia Environmental Resources Hub

Multi-objective planning in Northern Australia: co-benefits and trade-offs between environmental, economic, and cultural outcomes

Indicative Funding
$592,300 over 5 years (administered by Charles Darwin University)
This research will create a toolkit to guide planning and management that supports multiple uses of land and water, while maintaining environmental and cultural values. The toolkit will provide a roadmap to assess the potential impacts of current and future development on biodiversity and ecosystems and the influence of different approaches to management. Specifically, the project will examine the links between terrestrial, freshwater, and coastal marine species and communities. In addition, the toolkit will facilitate assessment of the benefits and costs of implementing different management interventions to mitigate threats to biodiversity associated with different land and water uses.
Bob Pressey, Mark Kennard, David Pannell, Jorge Alvarez-Romero, Jeremy VanDerWal, Vanessa Adams, Erin Graham, Michael Douglas and Rosemary Hill (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Griffith University, The University of Western Australia, Research Infrastructure, College of Science & Engineering and Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation)
Northern Australia; integrated catchment planning; Kimberley region; trade-offs and co-benefits; Fitzroy River, Western Australia; Conservation Planning

Australian Research Council - Centres of Excellence

ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrated Coral Reef Studies

Indicative Funding
$28,000,000 over 7 years
The overarching aim of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Integrated Coral Reef Studies is to provide the scientific knowledge necessary for sustaining ecosystem goods and services of the world's coral reefs, which support the livelihoods and food security of millions of people in the tropics. The Centre will enhance Australia's global leadership in coral reef science through three ambitious research programs addressing the future of coral reefs and their ability to adapt to change. A key outcome of the research will be providing tangible benefits to all Australians by bui8lding bridges between the natural and social sciences, strengthening capacity, and informing and supporting transformative changes in coral reef governance and management.
Graeme Cumming, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Malcolm McCulloch, Peter Mumby, Sean Connolly, John Pandolfi, Bob Pressey, Andrew Baird, David Bellwood, Joshua Cinner, Sophie Dove, Maja Adamska, Mia Hoogenboom, Geoff Jones, Mike Kingsford, Ryan Lowe, Mark McCormick, David Miller, Philip Munday, Morgan Pratchett, Garry Russ and Tiffany Morrison in collaboration with Janice Lough, David Wachenfeld, Stephen Palumbi, Serge Planes and Philippa Cohen (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, The University of Queensland, The University of Western Australia, College of Science & Engineering, Australian National University, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Stanford University, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and WorldFish)
coral reef ecosystems; Climate Change Adaptation; ecological resilience; biodiversity goods and services; social-ecological dynamics

WA Dept of Environment and Conservation - Contract Research

Decision Support for Prioritizing and Implementing Biosecurity on Western Australia's Islands

Indicative Funding
$2,039,331 over 8 years
The project will develop a decision support tool for day-to-day use in making accountable and cost-effective decisions about where to spend limited funding on management of islands to promote the persistence of native species. The project will assist in prioritising WA islands for conservation surveillance and management and could contribute to a future insecurity plan for other islands both in Western Australia and across Australia. The project will focus initially on the approximately 100 islands near the Pilbara coast between Exmouth Gulf and Eighty Mile Beach.
Bob Pressey and Keith Morris (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and WA Department of Environment and Conservation)
Islands; Nature Conservation; Biosecurity

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Biogeographic Analysis to Guide Better Marine Management: A Case Study of the Great Barrier Reef (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Assessing the potential for recreational fishing to contribute to conservation of coastal marine species and habitats (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit Research Data Australia.


The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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