Aaron MacNeil

Lead Quantitative Scientist


  Associate Professor, Dalhousie University

  Adjunct Principal Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies



Dr. MacNeil conducts broad-scale research into the function of coral reef ecosystems and the development of effective approaches to fisheries management. He uses statistical models to understand the roles that fish and humans play in marine ecosystems, and to make optimal conservation decisions for ocean resources. His work has developed key baselines for ecosystem based management of coral reefs and has established greater understanding of the trophic structure of coastal food webs, particularly among large sharks. He is the author of numerous conservation and resource management articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Ecology Letters, PLoS ONE, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Nature.

   What is the role that sharks play in marine ecosystems?

   How can humans utilize marine resources sustainably?

   How much fish would there be in the sea without people?

    Leading global analysis for all reefs.

    Uses chemical tracers to uncover the feeding ecology of sharks and other top predators across a variety of marine environments.

  Develops quantitative models to understand the global use of coral reef resources and how this is guided by the social and economic context of local fishers.

   Uses statistics to estimate the biomass of fish across gradients of fishing and define marine ecosystem responses across a range of fish functional groups.

    Supports management of reefs throughout the world, like the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), by identifying ecosystem benchmarks.

  Develops adaptive management projects within the GBR Marine Park in an effort to understand key reef processes and to promote increased resilience in the future.

  Works with Wildlife Conservation Society and James Cook University to understand the add-on effects of fish declines in reef ecosystems and the socio-ecological dynamics of marine fisheries.