Graeme Cumming

Professor

  • The University of Western Australia (M053), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth

    Australia

Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus

Personal profile

Biography

Graeme grew up (well, mostly) in Harare, Zimbabwe, where he went to Saint George’s College. He studied Zoology and Entomology to the honours level at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa. He then moved to Oxford University, U.K., on a Rhodes Scholarship. While at New College, Oxford, Graeme completed his doctorate on ‘The Evolutionary Ecology of African Ticks’ under the supervision of Drs. Sarah Randolph and David Rogers. From Oxford he moved to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, funded by a D. H. Smith Postdoctoral Fellowship from The Nature Conservancy (TNC). In Madison he worked with TNC and Professor Steve Carpenter at the Center for Limnology on applying species-based models to management and conservation-related problems in freshwater systems. After two years as a postdoc, he was hired as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida. Graeme returned to Africa at the end of 2005 and occupied the Pola Pasvolsky Chair in Conservation Biology at the University of Cape Town until end June 2015, when he moved to a professorship at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Townsville. He took on directorship of the Centre of Excellence in 2020, following the previous director's retirement, and led it to its completion at the end of 2022. In mid-2023 he moved to Perth to become a professor and Premier's Science Fellow at the University of Western Australia.

Research interests

Graeme has a wide range of interests, centering around understanding spatial aspects of ecology and the relevance of broad-scale pattern-process dynamics for ecosystem (and social-ecological system) function and resilience. He is also interested in the applications of landscape ecology and complexity theory to conservation and the sustainable management of natural resources.

Graeme's current research focus is on understanding the geography and sustainability of protected areas (broadly defined) and the ecosystem services they support. His Premier's Science Fellowship program will explore the roles, social-ecological feedbacks, and regional contributions of coastal protected areas to coastal resilience.

Teaching overview

Graeme has given a range of courses, tutorials and guest lectures in Conservation Biology and Landscape Ecology at the University of Oxford, the University of Florida, the University of Cape Town, and James Cook University. In Cape Town he co-coordinated and helped to teach an MSc course in Conservation Biology. As a Premier's Fellow at UWA his primary teaching committments are to student advising, and he is in the process of building a new team focusing on coastal resilience.

Current Ph.D. Students

Nick James: Climate adapation and the movement strategies of tropical seabirds

Teigan Collins: Understanding coastal erosion as a social-ecological problem

Ilaria Gliottone: The geography of decision-making in Western Australian protected areas

Valeria Mendez: Social-ecological spillovers from protected areas

Past Students

M.Sc. Students
Advisor: Heidi Richter (2004), Brian Spiesman (2006), Ann George (2006), Lindy MacGregor (2007), Matt Child (2008), Glynis Humphrey (2008), Simon Dures (2009), Ben Heermans (2010), Allison Skidmore (2010), Gregory Mutumi (2011), Jeremy Goss (2012), Christine Moore (2012), Zanne Labuschagne (2014), John Heydinger (2014), Jordan-Laine Calder (2014), Jenna Bowker (2015), Marcela Espinaze (2015), Mark Ford-Learner (2022).

Co-advisor: Matthew Bokach (2004), Cerian Gibbes (2004), Rebecca Hylton (2004), Melissa Moyer (2004), Claudia Stickler (2003), Cedric Worman (2004), Hannah Thomas (2007), Tsholofelo Dithlobolo (2009), Shannon Hardisty (2020).

PhD Students
Advisor: Grant Joseph (2012), Mduduzi Ndlovu (2012), Sharon Okanga (2013), Dominic Henry (2016), Chevonne Reynolds (2016), Julia Baum (2016), Hayley Clements (2016), Marie Lapointe (2021), Ruby Grantham (2021), Kim Zoeller (2022), Sivee Chawla (2022), Henry Bartelet (2023).

Co-advisor: Lin Cassidy (2007), Matt Marsik (2008), Arpat Ozgul (2005), Jim Surdick (2005), Jessica Spijkers (2020), Robert Streit (2020), Katie Sambrook (2021).

Postdocs
Advisor: Leo Bruinzeel (2007-8), Xanic Rondon (2009-10), Felix Nchu (2010-11), Alta de Vos (2013-14), Kristine Maciejewski (2013-14), Eleonore Hellard (2014-2015).

Previous positions

  • Jul 2015-May 2023: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, Townsville, Queensland, Australia 4811. Professor, Reef Research Leader, Centre Program 2 co-leader; Director July 2020-Dec 2022. Professor in Ecology & Zoology, College of Science and Engineering, James Cook University (Jan-May 2023).
  • Jan 2006 – Jun 2015: University of Cape Town, South Africa. Professor (Pola Pasvolsky Chair in Conservation Biology) at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute for African Ornithology.
  • Jul 2001-Dec 2005: University of Florida, Gainesville, USA. Assistant Professor in Landscape Ecology in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation.
  • Sept 1999-Jun 2001: University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA. David H. Smith Postdoctoral Fellow with the Centre for Limnology and The Nature Conservancy.
  • Oct 1996-Aug 1999: Oxford University, U.K., on a Rhodes Scholarship. Member of New College. D.Phil (=Ph.D.), 1999.

Future research

I am in the early stages of building a new program on Coastal Resilience, focusing on protected areas in Western Australia and their social, ecological and economic spillovers. I will be looking to recruit two new PhD students to start in 2025. Project options range from full-on modelling and GIS work through a range of ecological options all the way to interviewing protected area users and managers and quantifying institutional networks and venues. Please contact me if you are a student looking for a PhD project and have interests in social-ecological systems, interdisciplinary research, spatial/landscape/seascape ecology, GIS and remote sensing, economic and social dimensions of conservation, and/or institutional analysis. We have lots of fascinating questions, full bursaries on offer if you have a competitive CV, a lively research group and broader community, and good funding support for field work.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Industry keywords

  • Environmental
  • Oceans

Research expertise keywords

  • Social-ecological systems
  • landscape ecology
  • seascape ecology
  • community ecology
  • Biodiversity conservation
  • protected areas
  • Modelling and simulation
  • GIS and spatial analysis

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