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Profile summary

  • Ecosystem services
  • Empirical process-based modelling
  • Marine ecology
  • Marine policy
  • Fisheries
  • Social-ecological systems

Kara Pellowe uses modelling to understand the interplay among the social, ecological and political conditions of marine systems, focusing on reef-derived ecosystem services

Pellowe is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Social-ecological Analysis and Modelling of Reef Ecosystem Services at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University. In her current research as part of the REEF-FUTURES Consortium, Pellowe is developing statistical and process-based models to understand how the social-ecological conditions of coral reef systems affect the delivery of reef-derived ecosystem services. Pellowe is particularly interested in identifying win-win scenarios in which multiple and diverse services are realised. She also uses models to test how policy interventions may aid in increasing the delivery of services produced by marine fisheries.

More broadly, Pellowe studies the social, ecological, and institutional dimensions of marine systems, using empirical data to inform social-ecological systems models. She thinks of models as vital tools to explore how marine policies can be tailored to fit local conditions, with the aim of ensuring sustainable coastal management and the continued delivery of valuable benefits.

Pellowe received a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science with Biology Honors from Cornell University in 2012. She went on to pursue a Master’s in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and a Master’s in Sociology, and received both from Brown University in 2016. Pellowe’s Master’s thesis was entitled, “Temporal variability and resilience in small-scale fisheries in Baja California Sur, Mexico”.

Pellowe received her Ph.D. in Ecology and Environmental Sciences from the University of Maine in August 2019. She worked with Dr. Heather Leslie and her doctoral dissertation was entitled, "Social-ecological heterogeneity shapes resilience of small-scale fisheries: An interdisciplinary analysis of the Mexican chocolate clam fishery in Loreto, Mexico". After receiving her Ph.D. and prior to her current position, Pellowe was a Visiting Postdoctoral Scholar at the SRC with Maja Schlüter and Emilie Lindkvist.

Pellowe’s inter- and transdisciplinary background means that she is equally comfortable in the roles of marine ecologist, sociologist and modeller. She considers herself an interdisciplinary marine conservation and sustainability scientist.

Pellowe has also worked as an environmental consultant for the Damariscotta-Newcastle Joint Shellfish Committee and the Bremen Shellfish Committee in Maine, USA. In 2019, as she was finishing the final year of her Ph.D, Pellowe collaborated with the Committees to develop and initiate an ongoing shellfish monitoring program in the Damariscotta and Medomak Rivers. She also led an effort to conduct interviews with shellfish harvesters to capture historical baselines of shellfish abundance. The data collected in this ongoing effort are used in the design of local shellfish management.

Pellowe collaborates with a range of governmental and non-governmental organizations, fishing cooperatives, and coastal stakeholders in Maine, USA and Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Her outreach work is focused on using science communication to increase equity and access to marine resources, particularly in fishery-dependent communities. She is engaged in ongoing work that seeks to explore how stakeholder engagement can be used to empower and enfranchise marginalized fisher groups.

As an adjunct professor in the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences, Pellowe teaches a summer graduate course, Interdisciplinary Methods for Social-ecological Systems Science. The course provides foundational theory and methods in ecology and sociology, and was designed to help early career students develop and plan interdisciplinary research in sustainability.