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Coupled Human-Ocean Systems

We are ecologists concerned about human-nature relations, particularly on the coast where human societies and economies often concentrate. Coastal ecosystems are among the most valuable on Earth, are home to nearly half of the world’s populations, and benefit human societies with access to trade, land development, oil/gas exploration, and food production. Despite their value, coastal ecosystems have been increasingly degraded by human activities, which is often more dramatic in the world’s fast developing regions. In our conservation research, we explore trends in and socioeconomic factors that drive coastal change, examine consequences of coastal change for human well-being and the effectiveness of current conservation measures, and make potential solutions. One of our recent conservation works holistically examined how coastal ecosystem change in China over the past six decades was driven by economic boom and population growth, showing that the role of economic growth actually outweighed that of population growth in this one of the world’s most populous countries. While my own research has been focused on community ecology, I encourage all members of my lab to develop research that can directly inform sustainability of nature + societies on the coasts.


Relevant Publications

He, Q., Bertness, M.D., Bruno, J.F., Li, B., Chen, G., Coverdale, T.C., Altieri, A.H., Bai, J., Sun, T., Pennings, S.C., Liu, J., Ehrlich, P.R., & Cui, B. 2014. Economic development and coastal ecosystem change in China. Scientific Reports 4: 5995.


Silliman, B. R., Schrack, E. C., He, Q., Cope, R., Santoni, A., van der Heide, T., Jacobi, R., Jacobi, M., & van de Koppel, J. 2015. Facilitation shifts paradigms and can amplify coastal restoration efforts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 112: 14295–14300.


Liu, Z., Cui, B., & He, Q. 2016. Shifting paradigms in coastal restoration: Six decades' lessons from China. Science of the Total Environment 566: 205–214.


Cui, B., He, Q., Gu, B, Bai, J., & Liu, X. 2016. China’s coastal wetlands: understanding environmental changes and human impacts for management and conservation. Wetlands 36: S1-S9.


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