Mar_pelicansMaria del Mar Mancha Cisneros

Ph.D. candidate, Environmental Life Sciences Program
School of Life Sciences
Arizona State University
PO Box 874601 Tempe, AZ 85287-4601
Office LSA 209B



I am a PhD candidate in the Environmental Life Sciences program at Arizona State University. My doctoral research focuses in the use of fisheries management tools such as marine reserves (including their design and management) while incorporating governance considerations. I am using the Gulf of California (GOC) as a study area. Establishing an MPA without consideration of institutional and socio-economic-political settings and governance structure can undermine its objectives and give a false sense of security that such reserves will be enough to sustain marine resources. Furthermore, management strategies should consider how the resource users respond to the establishment of MPAs as well as what incentives drive their fishing behavior. I am interested in the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods to unpack the social, economic, institutional, and ecological factors that are relevant for understanding the particular biophysical and socioeconomic contexts under which MPAs are likely to be accepted by the community and thus effective at achieving their objectives. For my dissertation research, I have been collaborating with Mexican organization Comunidad y Biodiversidad A.C. (COBI) since 2013 in projects related to marine reserves in the GOC as well as the Midriff Islands Region in the GOC. I also currently work with the Center for Behavior, Institutions, and the Environment (CBIE) at ASU as a Coupled-Infrastructure-Systems Analyst. Our group focuses on developing tools to improve the understanding social-ecological-systems, institutions, and management of common-pool-resources.


BACKGROUND I was born and raised in Saltillo, Mexico. At age 18, I moved to Atlanta, GA to pursue a degree in Biology while also playing with the Clayton State University Div. II Tennis Team. After a year, I put tennis aside to pursue a degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of Texas at Austin. After graduation, I joined the Erasmus Mundus consortium in Europe to get an MSc. in Environmental Management from the Christian-Albrechts-Universitat zu Kiel in Germany as well as in Biology, Ecology and Evolution from the University of Poitiers in France. Both my undergraduate and masters research focused on invasive ecology of freshwater species in natural priority conservation areas both in Cuatrocienegas, Mexico (Hemichromis guttatus – cichlid fish) and in La Brenne region in France (Procambarus clarkii - Red Swamp Crayfish).


Mancha-Cisneros, M.M., Suarez-Castillo, A.N., Álvarez-Romero, J.G., Munguia-Vega, A., Beger, M., Espinosa-Romero, M.J., Torre, J., Gerber, L.R. In prep. An integrated approach to design a network of marine reserves in the Midriff Islands (Gulf of California) considering stakeholder preferences.

Álvarez-Romero, J.G., Munguia-Vega, A., Beger, M., Suárez-Castillo, A.N., Gurney, G.G., Adams, V.M., Pressey, R.L., Gerber, L.R., Mancha-Cisneros, M.M., Castillo-Lopez, A., Kolb, M., Morzaria-Luna, H.N., Reyes-Bonilla, H., Graham, E., VanDerWal, J., Torre-Cosío, J., In prep. Designing marine reserve networks considering ecological connectivity and climate change: a practical application in the Midriff Islands, Gulf of California.

Senko, J., Mancha-Cisneros, M. M., Humber, F., Godley, B., Koch, V., Wallace, B.P., Fox, T., Peterson, C.L. In prep. Global Patterns of Marine Turtle Consumption.

Mancha-Cisneros, M. M., L. R. Gerber, . 2015. Insights from small-scale fisheries and marine protected areas. In Biodiversity and the Green Economy, London: Routledge.

Gerber, L. R., M. M. Mancha-Cisneros, M. I. O’Connor and E. R. Selig. 2014. A framework for assessing climate change impacts on connectivity in the ocean: Implications for conservation. Ecosphere 5:33.

Souty-Grosset, C., Reynolds, J., Gherardi, F., Aquiloni, F., Coignet, A., Pinet, F., and Mancha-Cisneros, M.M. 2014. Burrowing activity of the invasive red swamp crayfish, Procambarus clarkii, in fishponds of La Brenne (France) Ethology Ecology & Evolution 26(2-3): 263-276.

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

Arizona State University
(BIO 182) General Biology II – Teaching Assistant
(BIO 181) General Biology I – Teaching Assistant
(BIO 411) Quantitative methods in conservation and ecology – Co-instructor