Project Update, June 2013

Our project focuses on the coupled natural and human coastal marine systems of the Gulf of California, in northwest Mexico. By developing an interdisciplinary framework for understanding coastal marine environment-society connections in this region, we are generating information to help inform innovative marine management strategies in the Gulf and other coastal and marine areas worldwide.

Guiding research questions include:

  1. What are the key ecological and economic linkages among the coupled natural and human systems of the region?
  2. What is the broader ecological, social, economic, and institutional context within which small scale fishermen in the Gulf of California, and particularly in the La Paz region, operate?
  3. What are the implications of this emerging knowledge for policy and management?

Read our field notes, from Cabo Pulmo, Sinaloa, and La Paz. View our most recent publication (Reddy et al. 2013) on the coupled interactions between fishers and local economies and the influences of these connections on both people and nature.

For more images from the project, please see our project’s photo album.

Current Activities

As of July 2013, we have completed social science field research in three areas – Loreto, Cabo Pulmo, and La Paz. Ecological field research is ongoing. Initial results from surveys with fishing families, conducted last year in the La Paz region, were presented at AAAS in Boston in February.

Also, researchers worldwide can now view newly summarized reef fish community data from the Gulf of California at the data portal under development by Scripps’ Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation, DataMARES. The free, open source interactive platform is designed to serve as a data management, sharing, and dissemination tool for the broader community of conservation scientists and practitioners in the region.

Project Team

  • Heather Leslie, Brown University and Lead PI (
  • Octavio Aburto-Oropeza, Scripps Institution for Oceanography Co-PI (
  • Xavier Basurto, Duke University Collaborator (
  • Gustavo Hinojosa Arango, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (CMBC) Collaborator (
  • Brad Erisman, Scripps Collaborator
  • Marcia Moreno-Baez, Scripps Collaborator (
  • Sriniketh Nagavarapu, Brown University Co-PI (
  • Mateja Nenanovic, Duke University Collaborator (
  • Alexandra Sánchez-Rodríguez, CMBC
  • Katherine Siegel, Brown University Class of 2013
  • Leila Sievanen, JIMAR Collaborator and Brown affiliate (
  • Sheila Walsh, The Nature Conservancy and Co-PI (


Supported by the US National Science Foundation’s Coupled Natural and Human Systems Program, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and Brown University’s Environmental Change Initiative.

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