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

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 20+ research outputs authored by Dr Brock Bergseth from 2015 onwards.

Current Funding

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

Australian Research Council - Discovery Early Career Researcher Award

Bolstering conservation outcomes by integrating human behavioural science

Indicative Funding
$467,402 over 3 years
This project aims to determine how fisheries compliance can be improved with behavioural interventions. Poaching is the most tenacious problem hindering sustainable fisheries worldwide, yet efforts to reduce noncompliance often fail due to limited understanding of how to influence behaviour. This project will draw on key theories and methods from behavioural science to empirically assess how social norms interventions influence fisher compliance in a range of coral reef fisheries. This will significantly improve our understanding of how to lever psychological, social, and cultural dimensions to reduce poaching. Ultimately, this project will contribute practical guidance to influence behaviours in fisheries and other environmental contexts.
Brock Bergseth (Research Division)
Poaching; behavioural interventions; Illegal Fishing; Behavioural Science; social norms; cnailpmoce

Australian Academy of Science - The Max Day Environmental Science Fellowship Award

Bolstering conservation outcomes ? understanding social and ecological effects of illegal fishing behavioural interventions

Indicative Funding
$19,813 over 1 year
This project will examine the ecological implications of behavioural interventions aimed at reducing illegal fishing. Specifically, it will examine how changes in fish and benthic habitats are related to changes in fishing behaviours (due to behavioural interventions) in marine protected areas (MPAs). Expected outcomes include elucidating whether behavioural interventions can improve ecological conditions and health in MPAs. This information will directly benefit practitioners and managers seeking to further understand social-ecological implications of illegal fishing, management interventions, and likely recovery trajectories for MPAs currently impacted by non-compliance.
Brock Bergseth (Research Division)
Fish Behaviour; Underwater Visual Census

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.

  • Assessing the effectiveness of social norms behavioural interventions to increase fisher compliance (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Rural Cassava Farmers Behaviour and Adaptation to Climate Smart Africulture in Nigeria (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

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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