My research interests lie broadly in understanding the factors that influence opportunities for collaborative management of common-pool natural resources (CPRs), and the multiple socioeconomic and environmental outcomes of such initiatives. I take an interdisciplinary approach to my research, and draw on theories and methods from a range of disciplines, including social psychology, behavioural economics, human geography and political science. I also collaborate widely with a range of natural and social scientists, policymakers and natural resource managers. To date, I’ve undertaken much of my research in the context of coral reef management in the Asia-Pacific region, including Indonesia, the Philippines and Fiji. I received my PhD from James Cook University in 2016 (for more details on my time as a graduate student please see this article), and am currently an Environmental Social Science Research Fellow at the Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Townsville, Australia.

My current research program has two broad themes:

Opportunities for collaborative management of common-pool resources

This theme of my research is concerned with understanding the factors affecting opportunities for collaborative management of common-pool resources, including examining why people engage in collective action in regards to CPR management and how such cooperative activities are affected by the micro and macro social-ecological context. Recently-published research in this theme includes examining how multi-scale socioeconomic and institutional factors affect participation in community-based management and cooperative behavioural disposition (as indexed by a public goods game). My current research includes examining the role of socioeconomic and cultural heterogeneity in influencing the likelihood of collaborative management, including in relation to cooperative behavioural types (i.e. conditional cooperator, free rider etc), and how environmental policy and management practice can account for that heterogeneity when engaging civil society in stewardship and public participation. In regards to the latter, my recent research draws on place attachment theory to re-examine the notion of ‘community’ in environmental policy and management in the context of addressing contemporary sustainability challenges, which increasingly require transnational collaborative management and stewardship given globalisation (related conference talk can be found here).

Outcomes of collaborative management of common-pool resources

A core focus of my research in this theme is evaluating how people are impacted by and respond to community-based CPR management. Recent related projects have included evaluating the impacts of community-based CPR management on multidimensional poverty, including the equality of those impacts according to social subgroups, such as gender. Over the past two years I have been working with the Wildlife Conservation Society to develop a global social-ecological monitoring framework to be applied to coral reef sites; specifically, my role in the transdisciplinary process was to lead the development of the social indicators (more about this project can be found here). The framework has now been applied in more than 5 countries and we are currently examining the resulting data to understand the impact of management on various dimensions of human well-being, including distributional and procedural equity.




Jacqui Lau (2015-present, co-advising with J. Cinner and C. Hicks) Winners and losers in coral reefs: access, equity and ecosystem services

Marie Lapointe (2016-present, co-advising with G. Cumming) Trade-offs among ecosystem services in peri-urban and rural coastal communities


MSc: Tracy MacKeracher (2017), Jeremy Horowitz (2016), Anushka Sandanam (2015)

Google Scholar Profile

Selected Publications

Gurney, G., Blythe, J., Adams, H., Adger, W.N., Curnock, M., Faulkner, L., James, T., Marshall, N. 2017. Redefining community based on place attachment in a connected world. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 114 (38): 100-10082. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1712125114. Related conference talk can be found here.

Pressey, R., Weeks, R., Gurney, G. 2017. From displacement activities to evidence-informed decisions in conservation. Biological Conservation 22:337.348.

Diedrich, A., Stoeckl, N., Gurney, G., Maipa, A., Pollnac, R. 2016. Social capital as a key determinant of perceived benefits of community-based marine protected areas. Conservation Biology DOI: 10.1111/cobi.12808.

Gurney, G., Cinner, J., Sartin, J., Ban, N., Pressey, R., Marshall, N., Prabuning, D. 2016. Participation in devolved commons management: Multiscale socioeconomic factors related to individuals’ participation in community-based management of marine protected areas in Indonesia. Environmental Science & Policy 61:212-220.

Gurney, G., Pressey, R., Cinner, J., Pollnac, R., Campbell, S. 2015. Integrated conservation and development: evaluating a community-based marine protected area project for equality of socioeconomic impacts. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 370: 20140277.

Gurney, G., Pressey, R., Ban, N., Álvarez-Romero, J., Jupiter, S., Adams, V. 2015. Efficient and equitable design of marine protected areas in Fiji through inclusion of stakeholder-specific objectives in conservation planning. Conservation Biology 29:1378–1389.

Gurney, G., Cinner, J., Ban, N., Pressey, R., Pollnac, R., Campbell, S., Tasidjawa, S., Setiawan, F. 2014. Poverty and protected areas: an evaluation of a marine integrated conservation and development project in Indonesia. Global Environmental Change 26:98-107.

Gurney, G., Melbourne-Thomas, J., Geronimo, R., Aliño, P., Johnson, C. 2013. Modelling coral reef futures to inform management: can reducing local-scale stressors conserve reefs under climate change? PLOS ONE 8(11).

Aswani, S., Gurney, G., Mulville, S., Matera, J., Gurven, M. 2013. Insights from experimental economics on local cooperation in a small-scale fishery management system. Global Environmental Change 6:1402-1409.

Pietri, D., Gurney, G., Benitez-Vina, N., Kuklok, A., Maxwell, S., Whiting, L., Vina, M., Jenkins, L. 2013. Practical recommendations to help students bridge the research-implementation gap and promote conservation. Conservation Biology 27:958-967.

Melbourne-Thomas, J., Johnson, C., Aliño, P., Geronimo, R., Villanoy, C., Gurney, G. 2011. A multi-scale biophysical model to inform regional management of coral reefs in the western Philippines and South China Sea. Environmental Modelling & Software 26:66-82.

Gurney, G. 2010. Integrated models of natural and human systems: a critical component of environmental management. Pages 132-137 in Cleland, D., Melbourne-Thomas, J., King, M., Sheehan, G., editors. Building Capacity in Coral Reef Science: an Anthology of CRTR Scholars’ Research 2010The Coral Reef Targeted Research (CRTR) Program, Global Environment Facility/University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

  • EV3020: Human Dimensions of Nature, Environment and Conservation (Level 3; TSV)
  • EV5020: Human Dimensions of Nature, Environment and Conservation (Level 5; TSV)
Research Disciplines
  • 2016 - Dean's Award for higher degree research excellence
  • 2015 - Virginia Chadwick Award for outstanding peer-reviewed publication

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
Current Funding

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

Wildlife Conservation Society - Grant

Development, assessment and analysis of socio-economic indicators to support a global coral reef fisheries monitoring program in an impact evaluation framework

Indicative Funding
Despite the prevalence and planned expansion of marine protected areas globally, understanding of the socioeconomic impacts of these tools is limited. The overarching focus of this project is to improve understanding of how marine protected areas and other marine management tools affect associated human communities. This research will be undertaken in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Society, and has two key objectives: 1) to develop a framework for socioeconomic impact evaluation to be applied to global coral reef fisheries monitoring; and 2) to assess the socioeconomic impacts of various marine management tools, including elucidating mechanisms through which impacts occur.
Georgina Gurney (ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies)
impact evaluation; Monitoring; coral reef fisherines; socioeconomic indicators

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.

  • Managing Marine Protected Areas to Promote the Resilience of Coral Reef Ecosystems (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Winners and Losers in Coral Reefs: Access, Equity and Ecosystem Services (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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