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I am an interdisciplinary marine scientist interested in social-ecological connectivity in coastal and marine ecosystems. My research combines the synthesis of disparate data sources with observational approaches to address pressing issues facing our oceans and the people who depend on them, with a particular emphasis on nearshore fisheries. My work at SESYNC focuses on evaluating the efficacy of marine spatial planning initiatives. In partnership with a group of researchers from around the world, I aim to develop a novel framework that will allow practitioners and researchers to determine whether socio-environmental goals are being achieved as marine spatial plans are implemented. Our team is interested in identifying the sociocultural, economic and environmental conditions that contribute to successful ocean planning outcomes, and see our research as essential as the marine spatial planning approach is adapted and employed more widely to achieve healthy ecosystems and resilient coastal communities.
Prior to joining the team at SESYNC, I was a postdoctoral researcher at Florida International University where I combined biophysical and socioeconomic data using geographic information systems and statistical models to generate maps of fishing impact and fish biomass for the Florida reef tract and coral reefs in the Lesser Antilles. These maps fill an important gap in our knowledge of the spatial dynamics of fishing and are of the high resolution necessary to inform area-based marine management. I earned my Doctorate at the University of California Santa Cruz where I explored how social and ecological connectivity shapes kelp forest ecosystems and the nearshore groundfish fishery that operates within them. I am passionate about research that furthers our ability to manage coasts and fisheries sustainably for ecosystems, marine species and human well-being.
You can find more information about my research and other work at rachelzuercher.com.