What’s New?


July 2017: Sarah Geren investigates Ecosystem-based Adaptations to water related risks.

Sarah is completing an internship with the NGO Conservation International in Arlington, VA. Through this internship, she will be studying the kinds of climate related risks reported by private sector and how companies address these risks. Specifically, she will be looking for Ecosystem-based Adaptations (EbA) to water related risks such as shortages, floods, contamination, and drought. EbA is an often underutilized strategy when it comes to addressing environmental risks. Companies can undertake EbA by pursuing activities like reforestation, watershed protection, and sustainable agriculture, to protect their supply chains and facility operations.


April 2017: Heather Fischer  successfully defended her doctoral dissertation, Tourist-Centric Citizen Science in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Congratulations Heather!!!


April 2017: Sarah Coonrod  successfully defended her undergraduate honors thesis, Psychological, Ecological, and Ethical Dimensions of Bottlenose Dolphin Captivity. Sarah found that capture and captivity of bottlenose dolphins causes deleterious effects for both the individual in captivity and for the pod as whole. Congratulations Sarah!!!



April 2017: Leigh-Ann Tower  successfully defended her masters thesis, where she evaluated local perceptions of the use of drones in anti-poaching efforts of rhinos in Kruger National Park in South Africa. Congratulations Leigh-Ann!!! 



April 2017: Tiffany Lewis  presented her research on marine contaminants at the reception and poster session for the Academic Program Septennial Review SoLS Site Visit.




January 2017:  “When you eat fish, are you absolutely sure you know what you are eating?”,  Sarah Geren reports on new laws requiring increased traceability of imported seafood.

Oceana reports that one fifth of global seafood is mislabeled. In December 2016, the National Ocean Council (NOC) Committee on Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud released the Seafood Import Monitoring Program which requires the importer to document where the fish was caught or farmed for 13 priority seafood varieties.

Read the full article here



December 2016:  Congratulations, Micah Harp! On December 13, Micah graduated from the School of Sustainability’s Master of Science in Sustainability program.



December 2016:  Gerber lab member, Micah Harp serves as graduate student speaker at the School of MHarp Gerber lab websiteSustainability Convocation

Micah Cameron-Harp, one of the Gerber Lab’s graduating master’s students, serves as the graduate student speaker at the School of Sustainability Convocation on Tuesday, December 13th. Micah is graduating from the School of Sustainability’s Master of Science in Sustainability program.  He came to ASU with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources from Cornell University and joined the Gerber lab soon after his arrival. During his time as a student, he worked as a research assistant for the newly established Center for Biodiversity Outcomes, served as the graduate representative for the MA/MS program, and taught undergraduate Sustainability courses. His research uses bio-economic simulations to model fisheries management policies in information-poor settings. We congratulate Micah on his success at ASU and look forward to hearing his thoughts and insights on Tuesday.


November 2016: Dr. Leah Gerber is among a task force of preeminent scientists aimed to provide a blueprint for fisheries ecosystem plans.


The Lenfest Fishery Ecosystem Task Force aims to provide guidance to managers on implementing Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management (EBFM). The task force strives to answer the following questions (1) What are the key principles of EBFM that should be included in an FEP, and what is the current status of fisheries ecosystem planning that incorporate these principles?; (2) What are the gaps between scientific knowledge and planning?; and (3) What new approaches can be used to fill these gaps?
To read more, click here


October 2016: Under guidance from Gerber lab member, Micah Harp, a team of undergraduates presented their research at the annual NIMBIOS Undergraduate research conference


On October 8th a team of undergraduate researchers from Arizona State University’s Gerber Lab for Marine Conservation and Ecology presented their research at the annual NIMBIOS Undergraduate research conference. The four students comprising the group are working to adapt practices proposed in theoretical literature concerning resource harvest for practical implementation in information poor fisheries. Two of the students, Natalia Rahman and Diana Sanborn, are both students in Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences. Emily Joiner is studying at ASU’s School of Sustainability, and the final member of the group, Christina Mortensen, is studying biology at Grand Canyon University. The diverse composition of this team is an excellent example of the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary environment that the lab’s director, Dr. Leah Gerber, has been working to foster.

Under the guidance of Micah Cameron-Harp, a Master’s of Science student at Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, this team examined the potential for using cyclical management strategies to improve fisheries in the Gulf of California. Their work emphasizes the need for practical means of regulating fisheries that do not require intense data collection. The Gulf of California ecosystem is highly variable and there is little available data, making it very difficult for fisheries managers to come up with specific guidelines for fishermen that ensure long-term harvest potential. This group investigated using cheap and easily accessible measures of oceanic temperature to predict times of resource abundance and scarcity in the Gulf of California, which would then allow managers to predict when the fish populations are likely to decline because of fluctuating environmental conditions. Using this technique, fisheries managers could preemptively close the fishery before the fishery begins to crash. In doing so, they would prevent the harvested populations from being overfished in times where environmental conditions are already stressing the species.


October 2016: Dr. Leah Gerber proposes a conservation triage, where current funds are indexredistributed to maximize conservation efforts for endangered species.

Species recovery is often correlated with allotted funding, with the exception of a limited number of species. Even with adequate funding, some species’ populations are still in decline. Gerber (2016) suggests that funds from “costly failures” be redistributed to species who may have a better chance to recover.


September 2016: Gerber lab affiliate, Sarah Geren, researches seafood deception with Oceana.



“Seafood fraud is a serious global problem..One in five of the more than 25,000 samples of seafood tested worldwide was mislabeled, on average.” Read the full report here

Check out the Oceana’s interactive seafood fraud map



June 2016: Dr. Leah Gerber served on the IWC scientific committee to help develop a new whale sanctuary

IWC-logo-White-Background-High-Res (Custom)

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) scientific committee met from May 22- June 3, 2016 to review the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary (SOWS) and to discuss the establishment of a South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary (SAWS).

The governments of Argentina, Brazil, Gabon, South Africa, and Uruguay have proposed The South Atlantic: A Sanctuary for Whales. The goal of SAWS is to promote the biodiversity, conservation and non- lethal utilization of whale resources in the South Atlantic Ocean.


June 2016: Accounting for biodiversity

wbcsdThe Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) is excited to announce a new project investigating how businesses manage biodiversity concerns and opportunities in their operations. This project, begun in conjunction with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD’s), looks to define what the business community needs in order to achieve their biodiversity goals. Highlighting these needs will help the academic and business communities collaboratively develop appropriate tools to better measure and monitor biodiversity.

On June 22-23, 2016 WBCSD, IUCN, and CBO will be holding a planning and scoping workshop in Geneva, Switzerland to address mainstream biodiversity measurement, valuation, and reporting for business to help companies better understand their impact on biodiversity. The workshop will build on the Natural Capital Protocol Project to provide guidance on qualitative, quantitative and monetary valuation of natural capital dependencies and impacts, and to create a framework to inform future standards applicable at different organizational levels, to all business sectors, and across all geographies.


May 2016: Dolphins in the desert


Controversy is ignited as the Ventura Entertainment prepares to open Dolphinaris Arizona in September, located in the OdySea in the Desert entertainment complex. This attraction will hold 8-12 bottlenose dolphins that will be used for their acrobatic entertainment and interactions with humans. In an AZcentral interview, Leah Gerber states, “Building this cement pool in the desert and importing dolphins is totally insane”, a sentiment shared by many in opposition to bringing captive dolphins to the Arizona desert.



May 2016: Anna in the spotlightAnna-Bettis-Photo-e1462399667364

Gerber lab member, Anna Bettis, is one of ASU’s School of Sustainability‘s featured students this month. Read here about Anna’s viewpoints and potential solutions to global sustainability.


March 2016: Maximizing species recovery with limited resource

SESYNC Gerber Group

On Friday, March 25, and Monday, March 28, 2016, the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes will host decision scientists Richard Maloney, New Zealand Department of Conservation; Gwen Iacona, University of Queensland, Australia; and Stephanie Avery-Gomm, University of Queensland, Australia.

Part of CBO’s Biodiversity Series, a seminar titled “Five important things needed to spend money efficiently on saving threatened species” will be held on March 28 in Wrigley Hall, Room 481 – ASU Tempe campus – from 1:30-3:00 p.m. It will address the decision-making processes designed to maximize species recovery with limited resources at regional and national levels.

CBO, in conjunction with the featured scientists, are collaborating with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service to address resource challenges regarding the protection and recovery of endangered species.


March 2016: Dr. Leah Gerber proposes Endangered Species triage to maximize recovery success.canis lupis

The agencies involved in implementing the Endangered Species Act have difficult choices to make regarding which species and actions are of the highest priority.

Of the 1,125 currently listed species under the Endangered Species Act, 50% still have declining populations or are high risk for extinction, with 800 additional species that must be considered by 2018. Listing species under the act is assumed to promote recovery, yet for this to be successful, conservation actions must be taken post listing and adequate funding must be allocated. Currently only approximately 12% of listed species receive the recommended funding.

CBO Director Leah Gerber proposes that reallocating funds from species with budget surplus to offset funding deficits for underfunded species could support recovery for 180 species. The full publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences can be accessed here.

Read the Science Insider article, U.S. needs Robin Hood approach to saving endangered species, researcher argues here.

Read the ASU now article, ASU researcher: Now is the time to prioritize endangered species here.

Read the Climate Progress article, The Endangered Species Act may be neglecting the animals that need it most here.

Read the Global Possibilities article, The Endangered Species Act may be neglecting the animals that need it most here.


March 2016: Marielle Abalo attends IK 2016 Interdisciplinary College Marielle in Germanyworkshop and conference in Germany

Gerber lab member and PhD student, Marielle Abalo, received an award to attend the IK 2016 Interdisciplinary College week long workshops and conference in Germany in March. The focus theme was Transitions and Transformations in Cognition, Biology and Interactive Systems. Marielle presented a poster and brief talk about the conservation implications of pinniped decision-making processes between physiological and social benefits.


February 2016: Marielle Abalo to begin Research and Innovation Fellowship with USAID

Marielle Abalo has been selected as a of USAID Research and Innovation Fellow for a marine conservation research project in Brazil. Through a national partnership with six universities (including ASU) USAID has formed a Global Development and Research initiative to target conservation research needs abroad and to foster international collaboration. As a Biology and Society PhD student, Marielle will study how human presence impacts marine mammal behavior along the coastlines of upper north and south Brazil.


February 2016: Leah Gerber et al. discuss the marriage of business and ecology

“There is a high demand from the private sector for ecological science where there is a promise for tackling the complex sustainability challenges facing our planet”, click here to read the full editorial. We invite you to contact biodiversity@asu.edu with your doubts, interest, and experience in engaging with the private sector.


February 2016: Robert Wildermuth et al. use crowd funding to promote conservation of a resident population of Killer Whales

More information on the killer whales who inhabit coastal waters between Central California and Southeast Alaska. or to contribute, click here.


February 2016: Gerber lab graduate student Yaiyr Astudillo-Scalia to present at the annual Whale Tales Conference in Maui, HI

Graduate student Yaiyr Astudillo-Scalia has been invited to present her research on humpback whales at the 10th annual Whale Tales Conference, hosted by our collaborators at Whale Trust Maui. Yaiyr has also been selected as one of five beneficiaries to receive funding support for her research.

For more information or to donate please visit their website here. For a full list of presenters see here.



February 2016: Gerber lab graduate begins internship with Oceana

Fall 2015 graduate from the Biology and Society masters program Sarah Geren begins a 6 month internship in February as the Seafood Science Intern on Oceana’s Seafood Fraud campaign, located in Washington, D.C.


January 2016: ASU hosts PlanetWorks: planetary design in response to climate change.

MariellePhotoVarious ASU schools, centers and departments hosted PlanetWorks, a workshop focused on planetary design responses to climate change. Among a great list of highlighted guests, noted environmental Dot Earth blogger and New York Times writer Andy Revkin was present and gave a joint presentation with ASU President Dr. Tom Crow on Tuesday, January 12, 2016. After the presentation, Andy graciously posed for a photo with Marielle Abalo, a Gerber lab member and Biology Ph.D. student.



January 2016: Graduate student Yaiyr Astudillo-Scalia obtains IUCN Red List CertificationIUCN_Red_List

Yaiyr Astudillo-Scalia has obtained her Certificate for Assessing Species’ Extinction Risk Using IUCN Red List Methodology. The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species is the most comprehensive global system that assesses the conservation status of biodiversity.  More information on the Red List of Threatened Species here.


January 2016: Lost C-POD rescued by tourist and returned to researchers

YairyCPODA C-POD is an important research device that monitors cetaceans underwater. One of these devices was recently used in the study of the vaquita porpoise in the northern Gulf of California, but got lost when it somehow became untethered. A tourist found it ashore in Rocky Point, Mexico and got in contact with the manufacturer company who put him in contact with the researchers. Graduate student Yaiyr Astudillo-Scalia served as intermediary to get the device from its rescuer and then deliver it to the researchers. This is another example of how citizens can make important contributions to science! Many thanks to the rescuer for such a heroic act!


January 2016: PhD candidate Mar Mancha participates in TNC-COBI’s marine reserve design initiative for the Gulf of California, in La Paz, Mexico.


 While there have been multiple efforts to establish no-fishing zones to protect the Gulf of California’s marine resources and aid in the recovery of important species’ populations, there’s still room for improvement in coordinating such efforts to achieve region-wide effective protection and recovery for both fisheries and conservation objectives. Since early 2015, The Nature Conservancy’s Baja Marine Initiative and Mexico’s organization Comunidad y Biodiversidad have been working with local NGOs, scientific experts, and conservation and fisheries government agencies on “Establishing biophysical principles for the design of marine reserve networks in the Gulf of California, Mexico” with the help from TNC’s Senior Marine Scientist Alison Green. Our very own Mar Mancha has been participating in these workshops in La Paz since 2015 and will continue to expand this work in 2016 to establish socioeconomic and governance principles for the design of marine reserves in the Gulf of California.


December 2015: Dr. Leah Gerber participated in the Sustainable Development event December 7-10 in Paris

On December 7, members of the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) gathered in Paris for three days to discuss global solutions for addressing climate change, sustainable development and energy.

The event focused on four key action areas, which included achieving Sustainable Development Goals, launched by the United Nations in 2015; and Redefining Value, a global effort by WBCSD and its partners to lead the development of protocol and processes to incorporate social and natural capital into business decision-making.

The four-day event also brought together members of the WBCSD’s Water Cluster group for a session featuring:

  • The launch of the Natural Infrastructure for Business platform,
  • A demonstration of the Green Infrastructure opportunity screening tool by the Earth Genome and
  • An overview of WBCSD water tools family.

CBO is involved in projects specific to the Water Cluster group and WBCSD action areas, specifically:

  • Development of a data-driven decision support tool for corporate decision-making in water use, and
  • Collaboration with organizational partners on ways to centralize access to biodiversity data and create methods for integrating data into corporate risk-management protocols.

Members from the global organization’s Ecosystems, Forest Solutions and Water teams also plan to discuss opportunities to promote WBCSD goals during the IUCN 2016 World Congress in Hawaii.

More information about the Paris WBCSD Council Meeting here.

Information about the WBCSD here.


November 2015: BS/MS student defends thesis on protein food decision makingGeren thesis defense

Sarah Geren successfully defended her MS thesis, entitled “Identifying key attributes in decisions about protein consumption.”


September 2015: A deal with Japan on whaling?

Following the May 2015 meeting of the International Whaling Commission, Dr. Leah Gerber publishes an editorial piece on the future of whaling negotiations, including the potential for compromise with whaling countries like Japan.

Gerber, L.R. 2015. A deal with Japan on whaling? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 13: 347. (PDF)


June 2015: Assessing the impact of the U.S. Endangered Species Act recovery planning guidelines

Recent MS graduate Caiti Troyer‘s research on how the recovery planning guidelines established by the Endangered Species Act impacts management of threats for listed species is published in Conservation Biology.

Troyer, C. M. and L. R. Gerber. 2015. Assessing the impact of the U.S. Endangered Species Act recovery planning guidelines on managing threats for endangered species. Conservation Biology.  (PDF)


April 2015: 4+1 BS/MS student defends thesis investigating sustainable FullSizeRender (1)and healthy seafood

Congratulations, Andrea!


March 2015: Taking stock of nature

Leah Gerber, Ben Minteer and other ASU professors further discuss conservation markets as a solution to environmental dilemmas. Read past conversations on this topic in Science & Technology, Ecological Applications, and Science Magazine.


February 2015: Andrea presents at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Meeting in San Jose, CA

0215151239a (2)MS student Andrea Noziglia presented a poster entitled, “Flame retarding chemical contamination of seafood and significance for biodiversity conservation,” reporting a significant correlation between over-fishing and chemical contamination of seafood. See PDF of the poster here.

Congratulations to Andrea’s fellow ASU Bio & Society students Rachel Gur-Arie and Chris Luna for winning their respective poster competition categories and Cole Helsell for his honorable mention!



January 2015: Leah Gerber joins Lenfest Ocean Program’s Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management Task Force

Leah has been appointed to the EBFM Task Force, led by Timothy Essington, to operationalize the concept of ecosystem-based management via collaboration with NOAA and regional fishery management councils.


October 2014: Congratulations to the newly minted Dr. Biao Huang, and to Mar Mancha Cisneros, now a PhD candidate!

Mar's comps

August 2014: PhD student Yaiyr Astudillo-Scalia participates in NOAA’s CalCurCEAS research cruise

The CalCurCEAS (California Current Cetacean and Ecosystem Assessment Survey) research cruise is intended to estimate cetacean population numbers and distributions in U.S. West Coast waters. Read more here.



August 2014: Gerber lab works with NOAA scientists to develop models for managing marine mammals

Gerber lab alumnae Manuela González and Robert Wildermuth take a “blue whale break” during a recent workshop at NOAA in La Jolla, CA. More information on management models here.

Robert W and Manuela whales 1Robert W and Manuela whales 2


July 2014: Announcing the launch of the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes

ASU’s new Center for Biodiversity Outcomes (CBO) builds on our longstanding leadership in biodiversity to facilitate creative solutions required to realize biodiversity outcomes. Visit us at biodiversity.asu.edu.


July 2014: Students present sustainable seafood projects at North American Congress for Conservation Biology, Missoula MT


Sarah Geren and Andrea Noziglia present posters entitled, “A framework for evaluating the ecological and human health factors in protein source decisions,” and “Flame retardant contamination in seafood and significance for conservation,” at NACCB 2014.

Read about correlated lower mercury content and higher fishery sustainability here.


June 2014: Recent MS graduate Caiti Troyer will start law school at Stanford Law in the fall

Go Caiti!


May 2014: Recent MS graduate receives award from the American Institute of Biological Sciences

Melanie Sturm has received the Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award from AIBS. This award recognizes graduate students who have demonstrated initiative and leadership in science policy, and provides an expense paid trip to DC to participate in policy training.

Melanie is also published.


January 2014: Our latest article on conservation markets


Gerber, L. R., C. Costello, and S. D. Gaines. 2014. Conservation markets for wildlife management with case studies from whaling. Ecological Applications 24(1):4-14. (PDF)

Also, check out this article on whale markets.





July 2013: A new article on marine connectivity and spatial planning

Anadon, J. D., M. M. Mancha-Cisneros, B. D. Best, and L. R. Gerber. 2013. Habitat-specific larval dispersal and marine connectivity: Implications for spatial conservation planning. Ecosphere 4(7): 82. (PDF)


May 2013: Read the 3-part Biographies for the #reachingoutsci series here.

Leah Gerber and other scientists discuss bridging the science-to-society gap, finding time for outreach, and unclogging institutional conduits between research and outreach.


May 2013: Our  marine megafauna bycatch mitigation review paper is finally out:

Senko, J., E.R. White, S. Heppell, and L.R. Gerber. 2013. Comparing bycatch mitigation strategies for vulnerable marine megafauna. Animal Conservation 17:5-18. (PDF)


May 2013: A new perspective on whale conservation delves into environmental ethics

Minteer, B.A., and L.R. Gerber. 2013. Buying Whales to Save Them. Issues in Science and Technology 29(3): 58-68. (PDF)


May 2013: Undergrad wins Student of the Year in Conservation Biology

Congrats Dee Sagawe!


May 2013: Undergrad wins Outstanding Graduating Senior Award in the School of Life Sciences

Easton is bright, motivated and incredibly committed to his research activities,” said Leah Gerber, associate professor with the School of Life Sciences and one of White’s research mentors. “He hopes to integrate biology into mathematical models used for the conservation of marine species.”

Read more at ASU News.


April 2013: “Brains, bugs and bullfrogs highlight ASU after-school science program”EJohnson_PhotobySandraLeander

Eric Johnson integrates active learning into an outreach project focusing on communicating science to the public.

Read more at ASU News.


February 2013: Communicating Science to the Public:

Dr. Gerber recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Her talk was titled “Confronting Institutional Barriers to Science Communication and Policy.” Click here for a writeup of her talk by Ross McBeath.


August 2012: Healthy seafood comes from sustainable fish

Recent research shows that seafood carrying health benefits for human consumers tends to be better for the environment via fishery sustainability. For more information, see:

Conservation Magazine
Global News
FIS (Fish Information & Services)
Toronto Globe & Mail
Red Orbit
Science Daily



May 2012: SciFund Challege: an appeal to the public

Read more about this effort here.Researchers are exploring new ways to fund their research. Through the SciFund Challenge, Tara Gancos Crawford is reaching out to the public to fund her field work this summer.





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