Professor Bob Pressey is a Distinguished 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
  • 2012 - Eminent Scientists Group, WWF Australia
  • 2009 - James Cook University Distinguished Professor
  • 2008 - Australian Ecology Research Award
  • 2007 - Thomas Jefferson Foundation Visiting Professorship at University of Virginia
  • 2006 - Govenor, WWF Australia
  • 2006 - Institute for Scientific Information Highly Cited Researcher in Ecology/Environment
  • 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
  • 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 203+ research outputs authored by Prof Bob Pressey from 2000 onwards.


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.

  • Predicting 'The Unknown Unknowns' in the Global Oceans: Increasing Certainty of Species Distributions to Inform Conservation in Marine Ecosystems (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Maximising Potential Impact of Marine Protected Area Placement: An Integrated Socioeconomic Perspective. (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Planning and Managing the Great Barrier Reef: Lessons Learned for the Future Planning of the Reef and Implications for Marine Protected Areas Elsewhere. (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Assessing the potential for recreational fishing to contribute to conservation of coastal marine species and habitats (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Conservation Targeting and Prioritization in the Prairie Pothole Region (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Biogeographic Analysis to Guide Better Marine Management: A Case Study of the Great Barrier Reef (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Evaluating the Effectiveness of Marine Sanctuaries for Wide-Ranging Animals: A Case Study of the Cook Islands Shark Sanctuary. (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Impact of community-based marine management in the Kingdom of Tonga (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

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


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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