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Elena Finkbeiner



Ph.D., Biology, Stanford
M.E.M., Coastal Environmental Management, Duke University
B.S., Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz

Research Interests:

My research explores how social-ecological systems can self-organize and adapt and respond to change, and seeks to identify governance approaches that can achieve both environmental sustainability and human well-being. My research also examines how resilience manifests at multiple scales of organization due to distribution, equity, and power dynamics. I study these processes in the context of small-scale fisheries in Mexico. In particular, my doctoral research examined how diversification can increase fishers' capacity to respond and adapt to change and disturbance, and the institutional mechanisms that enable fishers to access the environment. I also looked at how diversification in small-scale fisheries may impact the local marine environment. I use interdisciplinary science and a mix of qualitative and quantitative research methods to answer these system-level questions, including surveys, interviews, analysis of official fisheries catch data, and game theory experiments. I think it is important to understand how we can increase social and ecological resilience considering the increasing uncertainties and threats that global small-scale fisheries face.


Leslie, H., M. Nenadovic, X. Basurto, L. Sievanen, O. Aburto-Oropeza, K.C. Cavanaugh, J.J. Cota-Nieto, B.E. Erisman, E.M. Finkbeiner, G. Hinojosa-Arango, M. Moreno-Baez, S. Nagavarapu, S.M.W. Reddy, A. Sánchez-Rodríguez, K. Siegel, J.J. Ulibarria-Valenzuela, A.H. Weaver (2015) Operationalizing the social-ecological systems framework to assess sustainability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(19): 5979-5984.

Finkbeiner, E.M. (2015) The role of diversification in dynamic small-scale fisheries: lessons from Baja California Sur, Mexico. Global Environmental Change 32: 139-152.

Aguilera, S., J. Cole, E.M. Finkbeiner, E. Le Cornu, N.C. Ban, M.H. Carr, J.E. Cinner, L.B. Crowder, S. Gelcich, C.C. Hicks, J.N. Kittinger, R. Martone, D. Malone, C. Pomeroy, R.M. Starr, S. Seram, R. Zuercher, K. Broad. (2015) Managing small-scale commercial fisheries for adaptive capacity: Insights from dynamic social-ecological drivers of change in Monterey Bay. PLOS ONE. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0118992

Finkbeiner, E.M., X. Basurto (2015) Redefining co-management to facilitate small-scale fisheries reform: An illustration from northwest Mexico. Marine Policy 51:433-441.

Kittinger, J.N., J.Z. Koehn, E. Le Cornu, N.C. Ban, M. Gopnik, M. Armsby, C. Brooks, M.H. Carr, J.E. Cinner, A. Cravens, M. D’Iorio, A. Erickson, E.M. Finkbeiner, M.M. Foley, R. Fujita, S. Gelcich, K. St. Martin, E. Prahler, D.R. Reineman, J. Shackeroff, C. White, M.R. Caldwell, L.B. Crowder (2014) A practical approach for putting people into ecosystem-based ocean planning. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 12(8): 448-456.

Le Cornu, E., J.N. Kittinger, J.Z. Koehn, E.M. Finkbeiner, L.B. Crowder (2014) Current practice and future prospects for social data in coastal and ocean planning. Conservation Biology 28(4): 902-911.

Kittinger, J.N., E.M. Finkbeiner, N.C. Ban, K. Broad, M.H. Carr, J.E. Cinner, S. Gelcich, M.L. Cornwell, J.Z. Koehn, X. Basurto, R. Fujita, M.R. Caldwell, L.B. Crowder. (2013) Emerging frontiers in social-ecological systems research for sustainability of small-scale fisheries. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 5(3): 352-357.

Kittinger, J.N., E.M. Finkbeiner, E.W. Glazier, and L.B. Crowder. (2012) Human dimensions of coral reef social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society 17(4): 17.

Wallace, B.P., A.D. DiMatteo, A.B. Bolten, M.Y. Chaloupka, B.J. Hutchinson, F.A. Abreu-Grobois, J.A. Mortimer, J.A. Seminoff, D. Amorocho, K.A. Bjorndal, J. Bourjea, B.W. Bowen, R. Briseño Dueñas, P. Casale, B.C. Choudhury, A. Costa, P.H. Dutton, A. Fallabrino, E.M. Finkbeiner, A. Girard, M. Girondot, M. Hamann, B.J. Hurley, M. Lopez-Mendilaharsu, M.A. Marcovaldi, J.A. Musick, R. Nel, N.J. Pilcher, S. Troëng, B. Witherington, R.B. Mast. (2011) Global conservation priorities for marine turtles. PLoS ONE 6(9):e24510. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024510.

Finkbeiner, E.M., B.P. Wallace, J.E. Moore, R.L. Lewison, L.B. Crowder. (2011) Cumulative estimates of sea turtle bycatch and mortality in U.S.A. fisheries between 1990-2007. Biological Conservation 144: 2719-2727.

Wallace, B.P., R.L. Lewison, S.L. McDonald, R.K. McDonald, C.Y. Kot, S. Kelez, R.K. Bjorkland, E.M. Finkbeiner, S. Helmbrecht, L.B. Crowder (2010) Global patterns of marine turtle bycatch. Conservation Letters 3(3): 131-142.