Environmental Initiatives



Michael W. Beck is the lead marine scientist for The Nature Conservancy. He is also a research associate at the Institute for Marine Science and has an adjunct appointment in the Department of Ocean Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Beck works in the interface between marine science and policy, marine spatial planning, habitat restoration, and coral reef conservation in temperate and tropical regions. His work increasingly focuses on developing decision support approaches to build coastal resilience and on the links between disaster risk reduction, climate adaptation, and environmental restoration. Beck serves on an advisory committee of the National Academy of Sciences (Marine Hydrokinetic Energy) and on NOAA’s Science Advisory Board (Ecosystem Science and Management work group). He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in biological sciences from Florida State University. He was a Fulbright Fellow and an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Sydney.



1995: Ph.D. – Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fl. (Biological Science)
1991 M.S. – University of Virginia. Charlottesville, Va. (Environmental Sciences)
1988 B.A. – University of Virginia. Charlottesville, Va. (Environmental Sciences)


2010: Lead Marine Scientist, Global Marine Team, The Nature Conservancy
2003 – 2009: Senior Scientist, Marine Initiative, The Nature Conservancy
2002: Acting Director, Marine Initiative, The Nature Conservancy
2000: Research Associate, Institute of Marine Sciences, Univ. of California at Santa Cruz
2000 – 2002: Director, Coastal Waters Program, The Nature Conservancy
1998 – 2000: Director of Marine Science, Coastal Waters Program, The Nature Conservancy
1998 – 2000: Adjunct Assistant Professor, Dept. of Biology, San Francisco State University
1996 – 1998: Postdoctoral Fellow, Australian Research Council.  University of Sydney
1995: Fulbright Fellow. University of Sydney


2010 – 2012: National Research Council Committee.  Marine & Hydrokinetic Energy Assessment
2009 – 2014: NOAA Science Advisory Board- Ecosystem Science & Management Work Group
2004: Marine Reserves & Fisheries Management: Scientific Consensus Panel Member
2002 – 2003: Commission for Environmental Cooperation, North American MPA Network
2000 – 2003: European Union Energy, Environment, and Sustainable Development Program, Annual Science Review.
2001 – 2002: Heinz Center. Development of Performance Indicators for Coastal Zone Managers


• Beck M. W., R. Brumbaugh, L. Airoldi, L. Coen, C. Crawford, O. Defeo, G. Edgar, B. Hancock, M. Kay, H. Lenihan, M. Luckenbach, C. Toropova, G. Zhang, X. Guo. 2011. Oyster reefs at risk globally and recommendations for ecosystem revitalization. Bioscience 61:107-116.

• Merrifield, M., Hines, E., Liu, X., Beck, M. W. 2011. Building regional threat-based networks for estuaries in the western United States. PLoS One 6: e17407.

• Hale, L. Z., S Newkirk, M. Beck. 2011. Helping coastal communities adapt to climate change. Solutions 1:84-85.

• R. Jacobsen and M. W. Beck. 2010 (July 25). Where oysters grew on trees. New York Times Op Ed.

• Ferdaña, Z.A., S. Newkirk, A. Whelchel, B. Gilmer, and M.W. Beck. 2010. Adapting to climate change: building interactive decision support to meet management objectives for coastal conservation and hazard mitigation on Long Island, New York, USA pp. 72-87 in Andrade, A., B. Herrera, R. Cazzolla (eds.), Building Resilience to Climate Change: Ecosystem Based Adaptation Lessons Learned from the Field. IUCN, Gland.

• Foley, M. M., B. Halpern, F. Micheli, M. Armsby, M. Caldwell, C. Crain, E. Prahler, D. Sivas, N. Rohr, M. W. Beck, M. Carr, L. Crowder, J. E. Duffy, S. Hacker, K. McLeod, C. Peterson, H. Regan, M. Ruckelshaus, P. Sandifer, R. Steneck. 2010. Guiding ecological principles for marine spatial planning. Marine Policy 34:955-966.

• Carranza, A., Defeo, O., Beck, M. W., Castilla, J. C. 2009. Linking fisheries management and conservation in bioengineering species: the case of South American mussels. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 19:349-366.

• Crain, C., Halpern, B., Beck, M. W., Kappel, C. 2009. Understanding and managing human threats to the coastal marine environment. Annals of the NY Academy of Science 1162: 39–62.

• Hale, L. Z., Meliane, I., Davidson, S., Sandwith, T., Beck, M. W., Hoekstra, J., Spalding, M., Murawski, S., Cyr, N., Osgood, K., Hatziolos, M., Van Eijk, P., Davidson, N., Eichbaum, W., Dreus, C., Obura, D., Tamelander, J., Herr, D., McClennen, C., Marshall, P. 2009. Ecosystem-based adaptation in marine and coastal ecosystems. Renewable Resources Journal 25:21-28.

• Palumbi, S. R., P. A. Sandifer, J.D. Allan, Beck, M. W., D. G. Fautin, M. Fogarty, B. S. Halpern, L. S. Incze, J. Leong, E. Norse, J. Stachowicz, D. Wall. 2009. Managing for ocean biodiversity: creating a national biodiversity conservation agenda to sustain marine ecosystem services. Frontiers in Ecology 7: 204–211. http://www.esajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1890/070135.

• Geselbracht, L. R. Torres, G. S. Cumming, D. Dorfman, Beck, M., D. Shaw. 2009. Identification of a spatially efficient portfolio of priority conservation sites in marine and estuarine areas of Florida. Aquatic Conservation 19:408-420.

• Carranza, A., Defeo, O., Beck, M. W. 2009. Diversity, conservation status and threats for native oysters (Ostreidae) in the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts of South America. Aquatic Conservation 19:344-353.

• Guidetti, P., M.W. Beck, S. Bussotti, A. Ciccolella, P. D’Ambrosio, G. Lembo, M.T. Spedicato, F. Boero. 2009. Nursery habitats for Mediterranean coastal fishes: the need for a quantitative approach. Biol. Mar. Mediterr. 16: 197-200.

• Airoldi, L., Balata, D., Beck, M. W. 2008. The Gray Zone: relationships between habitat loss and marine diversity and their applications in conservation. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 366: 8-15.

• Valentine, J., K. Heck Jr., D. Blackmon , M. Goecker, J. Christian, R. Kroutil, B. Peterson, M. VanderKlift, K. Kirsch, Beck, M. W. 2008. Exploited species impacts on trophic linkages along reef-seagrass interfaces in the Florida Keys. Ecological Applications 18:1501-1515.

• Airoldi, L, Beck, M. W. 2007. Loss, status, and trends for coastal marine habitats of Europe. Annual Review of Marine Biology and Oceanography 45:347-407.

• Valentine, J. F., Heck K.L. Jr., Blackmon, D., Goecker, M. E., Christian, J., Kroutil, R., Kirsch, K.D., Peterson, B.J. Beck, M.W., Vanderklift, M. A. 2007. Food web interactions along seagrass-coral reef boundaries: an experimental test of the impacts of piscivore reduction on cross-habitat energy exchange using the marine protected areas of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Marine Ecology Progress Series 333:37-50.

• Airoldi, L, Beck, M. W. 2007. Loss, status, and trends for coastal marine habitats of Europe. Annual Review of Marine Biology and Oceanography 45:347-407.

• Brumbaugh, R.D., Beck, M.W., Coen, L. D., Craig L. and Hicks, P. 2006. A practitioners' guide to the design and monitoring of shellfish restoration projects: an ecosystem services approach. TNC,VA.

• Beck, M. W., T. D. Marsh, S. E. Reisewitz, M. Bortman. 2004. New tools for marine conservation: the leasing and ownership of submerged lands. Conservation Biology 18:1214 -1223.

• Beck, M. W., Heck, K. L. Jr. , Able, K., Childers, D., Eggleston, D., Gillanders, B., Halpern, B., Hays, C., Hoshino, K., Minello, T., Orth, R., Sheridan, P., Weinstein, M. 2003. The role of near shore ecosystems as fish and shellfish nurseries. Issues in Ecology 11:1-12.

• Beck, M. W., Heck, K. L. Jr. , Able, K., Childers, D., Eggleston, D., Gillanders, B., Halpern, B., Hays, C., Hoshino, K., Minello, T., Orth, R., Sheridan, P., Weinstein, M. 2001. The identification, conservation and management of estuarine and marine nurseries for fish and invertebrates. Bioscience 51:633-641.

• Beck, M. W. and M. Odaya. 2001. Ecoregional planning in marine environments: identifying priority sites for conservation in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Aquatic Conservation 11:235-242.


www.coastalresilience.org. 2009. Coastal Resilience: adapting natural and human communities to sea level rise and coastal hazards. Developed by M. W. Beck, Z. Ferdaña, S. Newkirk, B. Gilmer, V. Agostini, C. Shepard, D. Major, W. Brooks, J. Stone, G. Raber.

www.gulfmex.coastalresilience.org. 2011. Gulf Restoration: interactive decision support to prioritize restoration investments. Developed by M. W. Beck, Z. Ferdaña, G. Raber, B. Gilmer, C. Shepard, L. Geselbracht.

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