Researcher, Marine ecosystem governance and dynamics




Staff profile

James Watson's research aims to improve governance of marine systems understanding crucial feedbacks between physical, ecological and social processes

Marine ecosystems are some of the most productive and diverse environments on Earth, maintaining a wide variety of organisms and providing essential food and services to the global population. Unfortunately, they are also under increasing stress from perturbations such as oil spills, climate change and over-fishing. James Watson's research aims to improve governance of marine systems and mitigate the impact of these disturbances. His work focuses on understanding crucial feedbacks between physical, ecological and social processes.

James is working on a number of topics:

Global social-ecological processes. In this area James is working on a global marine food-system model. This includes using Earth System Model output to force a size-based ecosystem model, which is then fed into a game-theoretic model of fish market dynamics.

Local social-ecological processes. James is working to understand how people's social-norms are shaped by the environment they work in (i.e. the fish they might harvest, the technology they use to do so and the society they live in). In particular he is trying to infer levels of cooperation amongst fishermen from their vessel tracks. This is ongoing work together with with collaborators at Princeton University and NOAA in the US.

Nearshore connectivity. James is interested in how ocean currents move nearshore marine species' larvae around, and in particular the complex patterns of habitat connectivity that are created as a result. For example, he has employed metapopulation and network theory to identify key nearshore regions that make great marine protected areas. He is currently working on theory to understand the impact of stochasticity in connectivity on population dynamics.

Marine food web dynamics. James is developing food web models that, instead of having species as a basis, have size as a basis for dynamics. These models will be used to explore how climate change might alter marine communities, and also potentially how evolution might shape communities.

Movement. James is interested in why, where and how animals move. His tool of choice for this work is agent-based modeling. His focus to date has been to develop agent-based models of whale migration. These models are embedded in an Earth System Model, and the hope is to understand how long-distance migration in the sea may change under future climate scenarios.

Visit his personal website here

Theme affiliation: Marine


Publications by Watson, James

Watson, James

Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Stockholm Resilience Centre
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Organisation number: 202100-3062
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