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 202+ 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.

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.
Terry Hughes, 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

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 4 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

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 9 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

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

Review of integrated models, frameworks and decision support tools to guide management and planning in Northern Australia

Indicative Funding
$62,000 over 2 years (administered by Charles Darwin University)
Different modelling tools have been developed and trialled in Northern Australia to contribute to planning for multiple objectives. The variety of available models, and the complexity of some, makes it difficult for end-users to assess which of the models would be suitable for their needs. Different models inform different types of management decisions, in different contexts, and have very different costs and human capacity requirements. This project will provide a resource that will help ensure that tools which are selected for development/trial suit end-users needs and can be feasibly developed with available resources and with knowledge of their strengths and limitations.
Natalie Stoeckl, Michelle Esparon, Silva Larson, Bob Pressey, Jorge Alvarez Romero, Michael Douglas, David Pannel, Vanessa Adams and Mark Kennard in collaboration with Marina Farr (College of Business, Law & Governance and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
integrated modelling; multi-objective planning; modelling frameworks; Northern Australia; decision support tools; catchment modelling

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Using larval connectivity to inform marine reserve network designs in the Coral Triangle

Indicative Funding
$365,000 over 3 years
Networks of no-take marine reserves are considered critical tools to ensure conservation and food security targets in the Coral Triangle Region, just north of Australia. More than 1400 community-managed marine reserves have been established in the Philippines, the most populace part of the Coral Triangle. The local conservation and fisheries benefits of these reserves have been well documented. A need now exists to convert these individual reserves into operational reserve networks. To do so, we propose to use new information on larval connectivity, biodiversity and human usage patterns, and local governance networks, to systematically improve the design of an existing Philippine reserve network.
Garry Russ and Bob Pressey in collaboration with Angel Alcala and Michael Berumen (College of Science & Engineering, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Silliman University and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology)
Marine Reserves; larval connectivity; Fisheries Management

Department of the Environment and Energy - National Environmental Science Program (NESP) - Tropical Water Quality Hub (TWQ Hub)

Development of an Offset Financial Contribution Calculator for Reef Trust

Indicative Funding
$4,670 over 2 years (administered by University of Queensland)
This project will progress an approach for incorporating environmental offsets into the Reef Trust through development of a prototype calculator to assist potential approval holders and relevant agencies in determining appropriate financial payments as offsets under the Reef Trust. It will extend the methodology currently used to calculate terrestrial offsets to the marine setting. It will delineate clearly the differences in applying such a calculator to the marine-catchment continuum and terrestrial settings. A draft prototype will be tested for its consistency with operational needs and practicality among key stakeholders.
Jon Brodie and Bob Pressey (TropWATER and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
Reef Trust; Offsets; Marine Industries; Great Barrier Reef

NCCARF - Natural Resource Management Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation - Research Grant Program

Knowledge to manage land and sea: a framework for the future

Indicative Funding
$919,009 over 4 years
To undertake research to synthesize and model climate change impacts and adaptation responses for priority issues, identified by the Wet Tropics Cluster including: biodiversity shifts, rural and Indigenous community responses, extreme events in particular cyclones, coastal development, weeds, feral animals and fire. The major outcome will be the provision of coordinated knowledge and data about climate-change to support medium-term Wet Tropics Cluster regional NRM and land-use planning. The project design provides for seamless movement between the science delivery (Stream 2) and the NRM planning (Stream 1) through an adaptive pathways co-design cycle that brings together the strengths of the risk-based approaches with those of adaptation planning.
Steve Turton and Bob Pressey in collaboration with Rosemary Hill and David Hilbert (College of Science & Engineering, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation)
Climate Change Impacts; regional bodies; Natural Resource Management; NRM planning; Adaptation; socio-ecological systems

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.

  • Maximising Potential Impact of Marine Protected Area Placement: An Integrated Socioeconomic Perspective. (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Predicting 'The Unknown Unknowns' in the Global Oceans: Increasing Certainty of Species Distributions to Inform Conservation in Marine Ecosystems (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)

Connect with me
Share my profile
Share my profile:

  • 32.112, Sir George Fisher Research Building (Townsville campus)
Advisory Accreditation
Advisor Mentor
Find me on…
Icon for Scopus Author page Icon for Google Scholar profile Icon for TheConversation author profile Icon for ResearcherID page Icon for ORCID profile

Similar to me

  1. Prof Helene Marsh
    Division of Tropical Environments & Societies
  2. Dr Rebecca Weeks
    ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
  3. Dr Jorge Alvarez-Romero
    ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
  4. Prof Tiffany Morrison
    ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
  5. Dr Georgina Gurney
    ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies