Environmental Initiatives



Dr. Peter Mumby's work as a marine ecologist primarily focuses on tropical coastal ecosystems. Before embarking on a research career, he spent two years (1992-1994) designing marine reserves in Belize where he experienced first-hand the limited scientific basis for such planning. This experience was highly influential in defining and driving his research, which has been dedicated to conducting applied science in support of the management of coral reefs. He obtained a Ph.D. in coral reef remote sensing from the University of Sheffield, UK in 1997 and then used two post-doctoral fellowships to broaden his expertise into empirical reef ecology and ecological modeling. In April 2010 Mumby moved from his position as Professor at the University of Exeter in the UK to the University Of Queensland School Of Biological Sciences to take up a prestigious Laureate Fellowship funded by the Australian Research Council.

In an effort to assist managers in demonstrating the benefits of conservation actions at appropriate scales, Mumby and colleagues have studied the impacts of marine reserves on Caribbean reefs and discovered that the direct effects of protecting fish can have profound indirect effects on the ecosystem. For example, a recovery of parrotfish inside a well-managed reserve led to a reduction of macroalgae and an associated increase in coral resilience. Additionally, Mumby has developed mechanistic ecological models of coral reefs that integrate reef dynamics, conservation actions and disturbance (including climate change). These models have provided insight into the consequences of conserving herbivorous fishes, reducing nutrient runoff, conserving mangroves and restoring urchin populations.

Mumby has also worked diligently to obtain credible evidence of human impacts at appropriate scales. Obtaining such evidence is often difficult because the management issue occurs at a much larger scale than is measurable through conventional manipulative experiments. Using remote sensing and field survey, Mumby has conducted research across Belize and Mexico to isolate the effects of large-scale mangrove clearance and identify the impacts of their absence on reef fish community structure. His research revealed that the absence of mangroves resulted in local extinction of the largest herbivorous fish in the Atlantic and profound reductions to the biomass of many fish species.

Today, Mumby has a unique niche in being able to use remotely-sensed data to scale up ecological models so that they are spatially-realistic and able to inform conservation decisions directly. Mumby’s research spans the Caribbean and Pacific with long-term research interests in Belize, the Bahamas and Palau. Providing scientific evidence for the link between human activities and ecosystem consequences, his research has directly influenced conservation policy, contributing to the implementation of a ban on herbivore exploitation in Belize and the identification of a marine park at Conception Island, the Bahamas.

More Information:

Future of Reefs in a Changing Environment (FORCE) 



PhD, University of Sheffield
1997 - Remote Sensing of Coral Reefs, Sheffield, UK

BSc (Hons) First Class, University of Liverpool
1992 - Marine Biology, Liverpool, UK


University of Queensland
2010-PRESENT - ARC Laureate Research Fellow / Professor, Australia

University of Exeter
2006-2010 - Professor Of Marine Ecology, Exeter, UK

University of Exeter
2000-2008 - Royal Society University Research Fellow, Exeter, UK

University of Newcastle
1997-2000 - Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Research Fellow, Newcastle, UK

University of Sheffield
1994-1997 - Research Associate, Sheffield, UK

Coral Cay Conservation
1992-1994 - Science Coordinator, Belize, Central America


University of Newcastle
2008-2011- External Examiner, MSc Tropical Coastal Management

International Society for Reef Studies
2002-2006- Corresponding Secretary,

World Bank
Chair, Global Environmental Facility Targeted Research Group on Coral Reef Remote Sensing

Living Oceans Foundation
Scientific Council, Washington, DC


Kathryn Fuller Invited Seminar
2008 - World Wildlife Fund, Washington, DC

Colloquium on coral reef conservation
2007 - University of Queensland, Australia

Coral Reef Conservation
2004 - Zoological Society of London, London


Mumby PJ, Harborne AR (2010) Marine reserves enhance the recovery of corals on Caribbean reefs. PloS One 5: e8657

Mumby PJ (2009) Herbivory vs. corallivory: Are parrotfish good or bad for Caribbean reefs? Coral Reefs (in press)

Paddack MJ, Reynolds JD, Aguilar C, Appeldoorn RS, Beets J, Burkett EW, Chittaro PM, Clarke K, Esteves R, Fonseca AC, Forrester GE, Friedlander AM, Garcia-Sais J, Gonzalez-Sanson G, Jordan LKB, McClellan DB, Miller MW, Molloy PP, Mumby PJ, et al (2009) Recent region-wide declines in Caribbean reef fish abundance. Current Biology 19: 1-6

Renken H, Mumby PJ (2009) Modelling the dynamics of coral reef macroalgae using a Bayesian Belief Network approach. Ecological Modelling 220: 1305-1314

Sanchirico JN, Mumby PJ (2009) Mapping ecosystem functions to the valuation of ecosystem services: Implications of species-habitat associations for coastal land-use decisions. Theoret. Ecology DOI:10.1007/s12080-008-0034-0

Harborne AR, Mumby PJ, Kappel CV, Dahlgren CP, Micheli F, Holmes KE, Brumbaugh DR (2008) Tropical coastal habitats as surrogates of fish community structure, grazing and fisheries value. Ecological Appl. 18: 1689-1701

Harborne AR, Mumby PJ, Kappel CV, Dahlgren CP, Micheli F, Holmes KE, Sanchirico JN, Broad K, Elliott I, Brumbaugh DR (2008) Reserve effects versus natural variation in coral reef communities. Journal of Applied Ecology 45: 1010-1018

Mumby PJ, Broad K, Brumbaugh DR, Dahlgren CP, Harborne AR, Hastings A, Holmes KE, Kappel CV, Micheli F, Sanchirico JN (2008) Coral reef habitats as surrogates of species, ecological functions and ecosystem services. Conservation Biology 22: 941-951

Mumby PJ, Hastings A (2008) The impact of ecosystem connectivity on coral reef resilience. Journal of Applied Ecology 45: 854-862

Mumby PJ, Steneck RS (2008) Coral reef management and conservation in the light of rapidly-evolving ecological paradigms. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 23: 555-563

Box SJ, Mumby PJ (2007) The effect of macroalgal competition on the growth and survival of juvenile Caribbean corals. Marine Ecology Progress Series 342: 139-149

Hoegh-Guldberg O, Mumby PJ, Hooten AJ, Steneck RS, Greenfield P, Gomez E, Harvell CD, Sale PF, Edwards AJ, Caldeira K, Knowlton N, Eakin CM, Iglesias-Prieto R, Muthiga N, Bradbury RH, Dubi A, Hatziolos ME (2007) Coral reefs under rapid climate change and ocean acidification. Science 318: 1737-1742

Mumby PJ, Harborne AR, Williams J, Cappel CV, Brumbaugh DR, Micheli F, Holmes KE, Dahlgren CP, Paris CB, Blackwell PG (2007) Trophic cascade facilitates coral recruitment in a marine reserve. Proceedings National Academy of Sciences 104: 8362-8367

Mumby PJ, Hastings A, Edwards HJ (2007) Thresholds and the resilience of Caribbean coral reefs. Nature 450: 98-101

Harborne AR, Mumby PJ, Brumbaugh D, Micheli F, Holmes K, Perry C, Dahlgren CP (2006) Functions of Caribbean coral reef, seagrass and mangrove habitats. Advances in Marine Biology 50: 57-189

Harborne AR, Mumby PJ, Hedley JD, Zychaluk K, Blackwell PB (2006) Modelling the beta diversity of coral reefs. Ecology 87: 2871-2881

Mumby PJ (2006) Connectivity of reef fish between mangroves and coral reefs: algorithms for the design of marine reserves at seascape scales. Biological Conservation 128: 215-222

Mumby PJ (2006) The impact of exploiting grazers (Scaridae) on the dynamics of Caribbean coral reefs. Ecological Applications 16: 747-769

Mumby PJ, Dahlgren CP, Harborne AR, Kappel CV, Micheli F, Brumbaugh DR, Holmes KE, Mendes JM, Broad K, Sanchirico JN, Buch K, Box S, Stoffle RW, Gill AB (2006) Fishing, trophic cascades, and the process of grazing on coral reefs. Science 311: 98-101

Mumby PJ, Foster NL, Glynn Fahy E (2005) The patch dynamics of coral reef macroalgae under chronic and acute disturbance. Coral Reefs 24: 681-692

Mumby PJ, Edwards AJ, Arias-Gonzalez JE, Lindeman KC, Blackwell PG, Gall A, Gorczynska MI, Harborne AR, Pescod CL, Renken H, Wabnitz CCC, Llewellyn G (2004) Mangroves enhance the biomass of coral reef fish communities in the Caribbean. Nature 427: 533-536

Mumby PJ, Hedley JD, Chisholm JRM, Clark CD, Jaubert J (2004) The cover of living and dead corals using airborne remote sensing. Coral Reefs 23: 171-183

Mumby PJ, Skirving W, Strong AE, Hardy JT, LeDrew EF, Hochberg EJ, Stumpf RP, David LT (2004) Remote sensing of coral reefs and their physical environment. Marine Pollution Bulletin 48: 219-228

Mumby PJ, Edwards AJ (2002) Mapping marine environments with IKONOS imagery: enhanced spatial resolution does deliver greater thematic accuracy. Remote Sensing of Environment 82: 248-257

Mumby PJ, Chisholm JRM, Edwards AJ, Clark CD, Jaubert J, Andrefouet A (2001) A quantitative assessment of mass bleaching-induced coral mortality at Rangiroa Atoll, French Polynesia. Marine Biology 139:183-189

Mumby PJ, Chisholm JRM, Hedley JH, Clark CD, Jaubert J (2001) A bird’s-eye view of the health of coral reefs. Nature 413 (6852): 36

Mumby PJ (1999) Bleaching and hurricane disturbances to populations of coral recruits in Belize. Marine Ecology Progress Series 190: 27-35

Mumby PJ (1999) Can Caribbean coral populations be modelled at metapopulation scales? Marine Ecology Progress Series 180: 275-288

Mumby PJ and Harborne AR (1999) Development of a systematic classification scheme of marine habitats to facilitate regional management of Caribbean coral reefs. Biological Conservation 88(2): 155-163

Mumby PJ, Green EP, Edwards AJ, Clark CD (1999) The cost-effectiveness of remote sensing for tropical coastal resources assessment and management. Journal of Environmental Management 55:157-166

Mumby PJ, Green EP, Clark CD, Edwards AJ (1998) Digital analysis of multispectral airborne imagery of coral reefs. Coral Reefs 17(1): 59-69

Mumby PJ, Green EP, Edwards AJ, Clark CD (1997) Coral reef habitat mapping: how much detail can remote sensing provide? Marine Biology 130(2): 193-202.

Mumby PJ, Green EP, Edwards AJ, Clark CD (1997) Measurement of seagrass standing crop using satellite and digital airborne remote sensing. Marine Ecology Progress Series 159: 51-60.

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