Environmental Initiatives



Fiorenza Micheli is a marine ecologist and conservation biologist. She was born in Italy, where she graduated from the University of Florence. She obtained her PhD in the U.S. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, working with Pew Fellow Pete Peterson on the behavior and ecology of estuarine invertebrates, on habitat linkages within estuarine seascapes, and on the function and restoration of seagrass and oyster reef habitat. She was then a postdoctoral researcher at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) in Santa Barbara, California, and she has been part of the faculty of the Biology Department at Stanford University since 2001. Micheli’s academic and professional goals are to make significant contributions to the basic understanding of processes shaping marine communities and to the science informing marine management and conservation. In addition, she wants to ensure that this information is available to decision makers and other stakeholders, and to help train future professionals to find solutions to environmental problems.

Micheli’s research focuses on the processes shaping marine communities and the development of strategies to incorporate this understanding in the management and conservation of marine ecosystems. She investigates how interactions between species change marine communities over time and in different habitats. In addition to addressing these basic ecological questions, her research seeks to apply community ecology to increase our understanding of human impacts on the marine environment and to design conservation and restoration strategies. For example, her work quantifies the joint effects of increased nutrients in the water, fishing and climate change on marine ecosystems. It also incorporates our understanding of diversity patterns, species interactions, habitat-species linkages and patterns of human use of natural resources in the design and evaluation of marine reserve networks and marine zoning.

Micheli’s research addresses a range of questions, such as: What is the role of species interactions in structuring marine communities? How do species interactions vary in different locations and geographic structures? How commonly and under what conditions do indirect effects (e.g., trophic cascades) occur? What levels of diversity and what types of communities are compatible with different types and intensities of human disturbance to coastal marine ecosystems? To tackle these questions, she uses a combination of approaches, including field experiments, comparative field studies, synthesis of existing data and modeling. Micheli has studied a variety of marine ecosystems, including tropical and temperate estuaries, rocky shores, rocky reefs, deep-sea hydrothermal vents, marine pelagic ecosystems and coral reefs. Over the past years, her research interests have focused increasingly on temperate and tropical reefs. In addition to ecological studies, she is collaborating with economists, oceanographers, anthropologists, and environmental managers to integrate science in marine management and conservation in the Bahamas, Baja California, and more recently the central Pacific Line Islands and the Mediterranean Sea.

Micheli is a member of the Science Advisory Committee for the World Wildlife Fund (Rome, Italy), a member of the Mediterranean Group of the IUCN's World Commission on Protected Areas, a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program.



Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
1995 - Marine Sciences, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Undergraduate Degree, University of Florence
1988 - Natural Sciences, Florence, Italy


Annual Meeting
2008 - American Society for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Boston, Massachusetts
Invited speaker in symposia on “Where in the world are the last marine pristine ecosystems?” and “Marine reserves: are the investments paying off?”

Peter Yodzis Colloquium in Fundamental Ecology
2006 - Universtiy of Guelph, Canada
Keynote speaker

Annual Meeting
2004 - Ecological Society of Italy, Siena, Italy
Keynote speaker

Annual Meeting
2004 - Society for Conservation Biology, New York, NY
Symposium on “Sea of Cortez: bi-national Science and Conservation in the Aquarium of the World”.

European Union Workshop "Towards the Co-ordination of Scientific Research in Marine Protected Areas"
2002 - European Union, Rome, Italy
Invited speaker.


Alden H. and Winifred Brown Faculty Fellow

Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow

Hellman Faculty Scholar
2003 - Stanford University

Post-doctoral Fellowship
1996 - National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS)

On-campus Dissertation Fellowship
1995 - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Scholarship for graduate studies
1990 - Fulbright Program

Commonwealth Postgraduate Research Award
1989 - Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Australia


The Frank Porter Graham Graduate and Professional Honorary Society, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Halpern, B., S. Walbridge, K. Selkoe, C. Kappel, F. Micheli, C. D’Agrosa, J. Bruno, K. Casey, C Ebert, H Fox, R. Fujita, D. Heinemann, H. Lenihan, E. Madin, M. Perry, E. Selig, M. Spalding, R. Steneck, and R. Watson. 2008. A global map of human impact on marine ecosystems. Science 319: 948-952.

Micheli, F., G. Shester and S. Lluch-Cota. 2008. Linking biophysical and socioeconomic processes in coastal marine ecosystems of Baja California, Mexico. Technical Report. 51 pp.

Halpern, B. S., K. A. Selkoe, F. Micheli, C. V. Kappel. 2007. Evaluating and ranking the vulnerability of marine ecosystems to anthropogenic threats. Conservation Biology 21: 1301-1315.

Stevenson C., L. Katz, F. Micheli, B. Block, K. Heiman, C. Perle, K. Weng, R. Dunbar, J. Witting. 2007. High apex predator biomass in remote Pacific islands. Coral Reefs 26: 47-51.

Mumby, P.J., C. P. Dahlgren, A. R. Harborne, C. V. Kappel, F. Micheli, D. R. Brumbaugh, K. E. Holmes, J. M. Mendes, K. Broad, J. N. Sanchirico, K. Buch, S. Box, R.W. Stoffle, A. B. Gill. 2006. Fishing, trophic cascades, and the process of grazing on coral reefs. Science 311: 98-101.

Worm, B., E. B. Barbier, N. Beaumont, J. E. Duffy, C. Folke, B. S. Halpern, J.B.C. Jackson, H. K. Lotze, F. Micheli, S. Palumbi, E. Sala, K. A. Selkoe, J. J. Stachowicz, R. Watson. 2006. Impacts of biodiversity loss on ocean ecosystem services. Science 314: 787-790.

Micheli, F., and B. S. Halpern. 2005. Low functional redundancy in coastal marine assemblages. Ecology Letters 8: 391-400.

Micheli, F., L. Benedetti-Cecchi, S. Gambaccini, I. Bertocci, C. Borsini, G. C. Osio, and F. Romano. 2005. Cascading human impacts, marine protected areas, and the structure of Mediterranean reef assemblages. Ecol. Monogr. 75: 81-102.

Micheli, F., Amarasekare, A., Bascompte, J. And Gerber, L. R. 2004. Including species interactions in the design and evaluation of marine reserves: some insights from a predator-prey model. Bull. Mar. Sci. 74: 653-669.

Micheli, F., B. S. Halpern, L. W. Botsford, and R. R. Warner. 2004. Trajectories and correlates of community change in no-take marine reserves. Ecol. Appl. 14: 1709-1723.

Botsford L. W., Micheli F. and Hastings A. 2003. Principles for the design of marine reserves. Ecol. Appl. S13: 25-31.

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