Dr Leanne Cullen-Unsworth
I am a Research Fellow at the Sustainable Places Research Institute and a Director of the marine environmental charity Project Seagrass
My research interests are in the interactions between people and planet. In particular coupled social-ecological systems and sustainability in the marine environment. I currently have a stron focus on seagrass meadows internationally and lead a project investigating drivers of seagrass decline across multiple scales throughout SE Asia. Through my role as a director of Project Seagrass I work on improving our understanding of seagrass systems in the UK and raising awareness of their importance.
* Marine ecological and socioeconomic monitoring and survey work
* Coupled social-ecological systems analysis
* Cooperative research, community engagement, place-based research approaches
* Socio-economic and ecological indicator development
* Project management
Leanne has a B.Sc. in Marine Biology from Newcastle University, a M.Sc. in Marine Environmental Protection from Bangor University and a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences from Essex University. Her PhD investigated marine resource use patterns and associated socio-economic impacts in Indonesia. She completed a Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) postdoctoral fellowship in Australia where she focused on coupled social-ecological systems in a terrestrial context working closely with Indigenous peoples to document socio-cultural values associated with the environment. Her current research focuses on the threats posed to livelihoods and the economy, food security and lifestyles from global environmental change and the overexploitation of natural resources.
Her previous research has focused on linked social-ecological systems within a terrestrial context (the Wet Tropical Rainforest of Queensland); however, Leanne has a strong background in marine science and is interested in marine and coastal resource use and management, in particular the ecological and economic value of seagrass meadows across multiple scales.
Other research interests include: the value of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in natural resource use and management and the integration of TEK and scientific knowledge; economic valuation of natural resources and Ecosystem Services; resource use patterns; sustainable livelihoods; biocultural diversity and resilience.
Her experience includes: economic analysis of natural resources; Indigenous community engagement; socio-economic and ecological indicator development and verification; Community derived indicator development; Community engagement, cooperative research, place-based research/learning approaches; Environmental monitoring and survey work; Biological, ecological, oceanographic and socio-economic survey techniques. Co-development of solutions to resource problems using a variety of mixed methodological approaches is also a strong interest of hers. Leanne has extensive experience working with Indigenous peoples in remote areas of Indonesia and Australia particularly around joint management issues and governance of natural resources.
Member: CSIRO alumni network (since 2010)
Member: International Society of Ecological Economics (since 2006)
Member: International Society of Reef Studies (since 2009)
Member: Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (since 2008)
Current research interests
Sustainability of marine and coastal systems currently working in the UK, Indonesia, Philippines, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mexico
Recognising the role of seagrass meadows in food security: re-prioritising the marine conservation agenda SE Asia
Strengthening local knowledge for marine conservation
Biodiversity and food security: developing collaborative policy for seagrass conservation, Turks and Caicos Islands
Seagrass food fish value, Greece
Completed research projects
- Resilience and Ecocultures: an example from the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area: research into the improved chances of resilience in a community maintaining traditional lifestyles and connections to nature
- Development of integrated indicators to measure and monitor biological, social and cultural change for use by the statutory management authority, local stakeholder groups and community environmental stewards. Research in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area, Queensland, Australia
- Impacts of climate change on rainforest Aboriginal People: a focus on shifting seasons. Cooperative research with Rainforest Aboriginal community
- Sustainable livelihoods assessment: Indigenous ecotourism viability study. Collaborative research, report prepared for the Centre for Sustainable Indigenous Communities, James Cook University
- Sustainable livelihoods assessment into the viability of a remote Indigenous community utilising 'ghost nets' to weave sellable items. Report prepeared for the Centre for Sustainable Indigenous Communities, James Cook University
- Economic and subsistence values of the standing stocks of seagrass fisheries and the potential benefits of no-fishing marine protected area management in the Wakatobi Marine National Park
- Direct financial value of natural marine resources to local dependants; local resource use patterns; appropriate alternative livelihoods; and methods for the development of a series of economic performance criteria to monitor the local economic impacts of management action. Research conducted in the Wakatobi Marine National Park, Indonesia
- An investigation of student and staff experiences within the Coastal and Water Management Network, European Joint Masters Programme: outlining best practice for European University Association (EUA)
- Investigating the biology of the hydrothermal vent mussel Bathymodeolus azoricus, Azores: research involved mussel growth experiments under controlled conditions of methane, sulphide and oxygen exposure. Research conducted at the University of the Azores
- Biochemical oxygen demand and dissolved oxygen in a lagoon in Southern Portugal. An investigation into the tidal flushing capacity of the Ria Formosa
- Feeding behaviour of different colour morphs of the temperate rocky shore sea anemone Anemonia viridis
I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:
* Seagrass systems in the UK and overseas, particularly social-ecological linkages
* LEK and marine systems
* Coastal and marine sustainability and management