Brock Bergseth has always been captivated by both the natural world and human behaviour. Growing up in rural Minnesota encouraged his love for the outdoors, the natural world, and the role that humans can play as environmental stewards. This grounding shapes his research interests, which focus on increasing the effectiveness of conservation practices and understanding the behaviour of resource users.

As an interdisciplinary conservation scientist, Brock draws on a range of disciplines (including social psychology, criminology, economics, and marine biology) to examine the drivers and consequences of human behaviour in marine conservation. His primary focus is understanding and influencing people’s interactions with coral reef ecosystems to bolster conservation outcomes. Non-compliance with conservation laws and regulations regularly negates the effectiveness of conservation efforts. Because non-compliance is by definition illegal, clandestine, and often socially unacceptable, understanding and influencing these behaviours is extremely challenging. His research therefore blends insights and approaches from multiple disciplines to contribute cutting-edge research to this rapidly growing field.

 In addition to the main component of his work to understand and influence fishers’ compliance behaviour, Brock performs research to advance other scientific arenas directly relevant to conservation management, most notably regarding the behavioural, ecological, and social implications of marine protected areas and adaptive management practices. For example, he has described how fish behaviour on the Great Barrier Reef has changed due to fishing pressure, and developed behavioural metrics that could be used as further proxy indicators of poaching in no-fishing zones. He has also demonstrated how different adaptive management tools such as periodic closures (areas that are closed to fishing for period of time) can deliver both ecological and social benefits in settings such as Papua New Guinea, where livelihood dependence on fisheries makes permanent closures such as those on the Great Barrier Reef unviable options. Brock’s research has also increased understanding of the decadal-scale benefits delivered by effectively enforced no-fishing zones, how natural disasters such as typhoons and coral bleaching affect the performance of these no-fishing zones, and demonstrated how higher levels of human exclusion and effective protection are needed to bolster apex predators such as sharks and groupers. All of these findings are important for the wellbeing and food security of hundreds of millions of people who depend on coral reef fisheries.

  • Behavioural Science
  • Conservation
  • Stewardship
  • Psychology
  • Poaching
  • Compliance
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives

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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
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  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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