Dr Christopher Cvitanovic

Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science

Dr Chris Cvitanovic is a transdisciplinary marine scientist working to improve the relationship between science, policy and practice to enable evidence-informed decision-making for sustainable ocean futures. In doing so Chris draws on almost ten years of experience working at the interface of science and policy for the Australian Government Department of Environment, and then as a Knowledge Broker in CSIROs Climate Adaptation Flagship.

Chris has published broadly on topics relating to knowledge exchange, stakeholder engagement and marine governance, with papers published in journals including Nature Climate Change, Nature Sustainability, Nature Communications, Nature Ecology and Evolution and Global Environmental Change. Chris also regularly contributes to several blogs focused on linking science to action, including the LSE Impact Blog and Research to Action.

Chris was the founding chair of The Interdisciplinary Marine Early Career Network where he continues to serve as a member of the Organising Committee. He is also on the Editorial Boards for the Springer-Nature journals Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries and Socio-Ecological Practice Research. Previously Chris has also served as a member of the Integrated Marine Biosphere Research (IMBeR) project Scientific Steering Committee and the MarXiv Advisory Board.

Research interests


In its broadest sense, Chris' research is focused on improving the uptake and impact of scientific research among different end-users to facilitate evidence-informed decision-making for sustainable ocean futures. He does so by collaborating closely with researchers from other disciplines (e.g. economists, psychologists and ecologists), and actors from other sectors (e.g. policy-makers, industry leaders and non-governmental organisations) to ensure a transdisciplinary approach to his work. Chris is currently leading (or has led) research projects throughout Australia, in the EU, the US and the South Pacific.

Specific Research Themes

Theme 1: Generating the knowledge needed to support the sustainable management of marine socio-ecological systems

The first of Chris' research themes is focused on generating the knowledge that is needed to support the sustainable management of marine socio-ecological systems. This research recognises that understanding, and developing solutions to, contemporary social-ecological challenges necessitates integrative forms of knowledge production, such as those associated with inter- and trans-disciplinary research approaches. Despite the promise of integrative research approaches, however, persistent and systematic barriers to the implementation remain - and thus Chris' research in this space aims to identify strategies to improve their implementation. For example, through the evaluation of existing interdisciplinary research efforts to identify the critical factors underpinning success (e.g. Blythe and Cvitanovic, under review); or by drawing on organizational psychology theory to identify improved mechanisms for developing shared goals within interdisciplinary research teams that reflect the values, worldviews and knowledge bases of all team members (Cvitanovic et al. 2020).

Theme 2: Connecting marine science to policy and practice

Chris' second theme of research is focused on improving knowledge exchange among marine scientists and decision-makers to enable evidence-informed decision-making processes. He approaches this topic in a number of ways. First, by seeking to identify and better understand the strategies that can facilitate improved knowledge exchange, to optimise their implementation and match specific strategies to contexts. This work has included a focus on knowledge brokers (Cvitanovic et al. 2017), boundary organisations (Cvitanovic et al. 2018a) and processes of knowledge co-production (Norström, Cvitanovic et al. 2020). Second, this research seeks to improve the ways in which knowledge exchange processes are evaluated (Posner and Cvitanovic, 2019) so as to improve our capacity to learn from existing efforts, and provide guiding principles for future initiatives aimed at linking marine science to policy and practice (e.g. Fig 1 in Cvitanovic and Hobday 2018). A key focus throughout all of this research has been identifying the institutional changes that are needed (by research organisations, government agencies and research funders) to better support a more dynamic relationship between marine science, policy and practice.

Theme 3: Public engagement for ocean literacy

The third theme of Chris' research is focused on improving ocean literary among the public (e.g. community groups, tourists, etc.) for better environmental outcomes. This research stream developed following several years of collaborating with marine park managers in Australia across Commonwealth and State levels, and learning about their need for engagement strategies that can reach all segments of diverse communities and user groups. Thus, to ensure the practical utility of this research it is co-developed with different marine park managers. Recent examples include a study from the Ningaloo Coast in Australia that sought to understand community perceptions about the management of the Ningaloo Marine Park, so as to develop a typology of 'community members', and identify specific engagement strategies to engage with each 'type' of community member (Cvitanovic et al. 2018b).

Building the capacity of early career marine scientists

In addition to his research, Chris' work also focuses on helping to build the capacity of early career marine scientists in relation to the themes outlined above. For example, Chris has co-authored several articles focused on helping early career researchers understand how to achieve impacts on policy and practice (e.g. Evans and Cvitanovic, 2018), and how to engage more effectively as part of interdisciplinary research teams and processes (e.g. Kelly et al. 2019; Moon et al. under review). He is also a regular lecturer for the IMBeR ClimEco International Summer School series, and has convened practical workshops in Australia and overseas for early career scientists focused on building capacity for policy engagement.

  • Cvitanovic, C, Colvin, R, Reynolds, K et al 2020, 'Applying an Organizational Psychology Model for Developing Shared Goals in Interdisciplinary Research Teams', One Earth, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 75-83.
  • Nash, K, Blythe, J, Cvitanovic, C et al. 2020, 'To Achieve a Sustainable Blue Future, Progress Assessments Must Include Interdependencies between the Sustainable Development Goals', One Earth, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 161-173.
  • Norstrom, A, Cvitanovic, C, Lof, M et al 2020, 'Principles for knowledge co-production in sustainability research', Nature Sustainability, vol. 3, pp. 182-190.
  • Cvitanovic, C, van Putten, I, Kelly, R et al. 2020, 'Engaging More Effectively With Visitors to Coastal Regions for Improved Management Outcomes: Insights From the Ningaloo Coast, Australia', Frontiers in Marine Science, vol. 7, no. 583, pp. 1-14.
  • Osterblom, H, Cvitanovic, C, van Putten, I et al. 2020, 'Science-Industry Collaboration: Sideways or Highways to Ocean Sustainability?', One Earth, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 79-88.
  • Moon, K, Marsh, D & Cvitanovic, C 2020, 'Coupling property rights with responsibilities to improve conservation outcomes across land and seascapes [IN PRESS]', Conservation Letters, vol. Online.
  • Blythe, J & Cvitanovic, C 2020, 'Five Organizational Features That Enable Successful Interdisciplinary Marine Research', Frontiers in Marine Science, vol. 7, pp. 1-14.
  • Hobday, A, Boschetti, F, Moeseneder, C et al. 2020, 'Quantitative Foresighting as a Means of Improving Anticipatory Scientific Capacity and Strategic Planning', One Earth, vol. 3, no. 5, pp. 631-644.
  • Fogarty, H, Cvitanovic, C, Hobday, A et al. 2020, 'An Assessment of How Australian Fisheries Management Plans Account for Climate Change Impacts', Frontiers in Marine Science, vol. 7, pp. 1-19.
  • Fogarty, H, Cvitanovic, C, Hobday, A et al. 2019, 'Prepared for change? An assessment of the current state of knowledge to support climate adaptation for Australian fisheries', Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, vol. 29, no. 4, pp. 877-894.
  • Kelly, R, Mackay, M, Nash, K et al 2019, 'Ten tips for developing interdisciplinary socio-ecological researchers', Socio-Ecological Practice Research, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 149-161.
  • Stephenson, R, Hobday, A, Cvitanovic, C et al 2019, 'A practical framework for implementing and evaluating integrated management of marine activities', Ocean and Coastal Management, vol. 177, pp. 127-138.
  • Cvitanovic, C, Howden, M, Colvin, R et al 2019, 'Maximising the benefits of participatory climate adaptation research by understanding and managing the associated challenges and risks', Environmental Science and Policy, vol. 94, pp. 20-31.
  • Posner, S & Cvitanovic, C 2019, 'Evaluating the impacts of boundary-spanning activities at the interface of environmental science and policy: A review of progress and future research needs', Environmental Science and Policy, vol. 92, pp. 141-151.
  • McDonald, K, Hobday, A, Thompson, P et al. 2019, 'Proactive, Reactive, and Inactive Pathways for Scientists in a Changing World', Earth's Future, vol. 7, pp. 60-73.
  • Alexander, K, Hobday, A, Cvitanovic, C et al. 2019, 'Progress in integrating natural and social science in marine
    ecosystem-based management research', Marine and Freshwater Research, vol. 70, no. 1, pp. 71-83.
  • Cvitanovic, C & Hobday, A 2018, 'Building optimism at the environmental science-policy-practice interface through the study of bright spots', Nature Communications, vol. 9, no. 3466, pp. 1-5.
  • Lacey, J, Howden, M, Cvitanovic, C et al 2018, 'Understanding and managing trust at the climate science-policy interface', Nature Climate Change, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 22-28.
  • Cvitanovic, C, Lof, M, Norstrom, A et al 2018, 'Building university-based boundary organisations that facilitate impacts on environmental policy and practice', PLOS ONE (Public Library of Science), vol. 13, no. 9, pp. 1-19.
  • Evans, M & Cvitanovic, C 2018, 'An introduction to achieving policy impact for early career researchers', palgrave communications, vol. 4, no. 88, pp. 1-12.
  • Bednarek, A, Wyborn, C, Cvitanovic, C et al 2018, 'Boundary spanning at the science-policy interface: the practitioners' perspectives', Sustainability Science, vol. 13, no. 4, pp. 1175-1183.
  • Cvitanovic, C, van Putten, I, Hobday, A et al 2018, 'Building trust among marine protected area managers and community members through scientific research: Insights from the Ningaloo Marine Park, Australia', Marine Policy, vol. 93, pp. 195-206.
  • Fazey, I, Schapke, N, Caniglia, G et al 2018, 'Ten essentials for action-oriented and second order energy transitions, transformations and climate change research', Energy Research & Social Science, vol. 40, pp. 54-70pp.
  • van Putten, I, Cvitanovic, C, Fulton, E et al 2018, 'The emergence of social licence necessitates reforms in environmental regulation', Ecology and Society, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 1-11.
  • Cvitanovic, C, Hobday, A, McDonald, J et al. 2018, 'Governing fisheries through the critical decade: the role and utility of polycentric systems', Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 1-18.
  • Hobday, A, Doerr, V, Marshall, N et al. 2018, 'Adapting to climate change: the role of organisational personalities in natural resource management', Regional Environmental Change, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 561-571.
  • van Putten, I, Plaganyi, E, Booth, K et al 2018, 'A framework for incorporating sense of place into the management of marine systems', Ecology and Society, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 1-24.
  • Cvitanovic, C, Cunningham, R, Dowd, A et al 2017, 'Using Social Network Analysis to Monitor and Assess the Effectiveness of Knowledge Brokers at Connecting Scientists and Decision-Makers: An Australian case study', Environmental Policy and Governance, vol. 27, no. 3, pp. 256-269pp.
  • Marshall, N, Adger, N, Attwood, S et al 2017, 'Empirically derived guidance for social scientists to influence environmental policy', PLOS ONE (Public Library of Science), vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 1-9.
  • Nash, K, Cvitanovic, C, Fulton, E et al 2017, 'Planetary boundaries for a blue planet', Nature Ecology & Evolution, vol. 1, no. 11, pp. 1625-1634.
  • Hobday, A & Cvitanovic, C 2017, 'Preparing Australian fisheries for the critical decade: insights from the past 25 years', Marine and Freshwater Research, vol. 68, no. 10, pp. 1779-1787.
  • van Putten, I, Villanueva, C & Cvitanovic, C 2017, 'The Influence of Community Size and Location on Different Dimensions of Vulnerability: a case study of Australian coastal communities', Australian Geographer, vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 121-142.
  • Cvitanovic, C, McDonald, J & Hobday, A 2016, 'From science to action: Principles for undertaking environmental research that enables knowledge exchange and evidence-based decision-making', Journal of Environmental Management, vol. 183, no. 3, pp. 864-874.
  • Cunningham, R, Cvitanovic, C, Measham, T et al 2016, 'Engaging communities in climate adaptation: the potential of social networks', Climate Policy, vol. 16, no. 7, pp. 894-908pp.
  • van Putten, I, Cvitanovic, C & Fulton, E 2016, 'A changing marine sector in Australian coastal communities: An analysis of inter and intra sectoral industry connections and employment', Ocean and Coastal Management, vol. 131, pp. 1-12.
  • Boschetti, F, Cvitanovic, C, Fleming, A et al 2016, 'A call for empirically based guidelines for building trust among stakeholders in environmental sustainability projects', Sustainability Science, vol. 11, no. 5, pp. 855-859.
  • Cvitanovic, C, Crimp, S, Fleming, A et al. 2016, 'Linking adaptation science to action to build food secure Pacific Island communities', Climate Risk Management, vol. 11, pp. 53-62.
  • Lacey, J, Howden, M, Cvitanovic, C et al 2015, 'Informed adaptation: Ethical considerations for adaptation researchers and decision-makers', Global Environmental Change - Human and Policy Dimensions, vol. 32, pp. 200-210.
  • Cvitanovic, C, Hobday, A, Van Kerkhoff, L et al 2015, 'Overcoming barriers to knowledge exchange for adaptive resource management; the perspectives of Australian marine scientists', Marine Policy, vol. 52, pp. 38-44.
  • Lacey, J, Howden, M, Cvitanovic, C et al 2015, 'Informed adaptation: Ethical considerations for adaptation researchers and decision-makers', Global Environmental Change - Human and Policy Dimensions, vol. 32, pp. 200-210.
  • Cvitanovic, C, Hobday, A, Van Kerkhoff, L et al. 2015, 'Improving knowledge exchange among scientists and decisionmakers to facilitate the adaptive governance of marine resources: A review of knowledge and research needs', Ocean and Coastal Management, vol. 112, pp. 25-35.
  • Cvitanovic, C, Marshall, N, Wilson, S et al. 2014, 'Perceptions of Australian marine protected area managers regarding the role, importance, and achievability of adaptation for managing the risks of climate change', Ecology and Society, vol. 19, no. 4, p. 33.
  • Noble, M, Pratchett, M, Coker, D et al 2014, 'Foraging in corallivorous butterflyfish varies with wave exposure', Coral Reefs, vol. 33, no. 2, pp. 351-361.
  • Cvitanovic, C, Fulton, C, Wilson, S et al 2014, 'Utility of primary scientific literature to environmental managers: An international case study on coral-dominated marine protected areas', Ocean and Coastal Management, vol. 102, pp. 72-78.
  • Pratchett, M, Hoey, A, Cvitanovic, C et al 2014, 'Abundance, diversity, and feeding behavior of coral reef butterflyfishes at Lord Howe Island', Ecology and Evolution, vol. 4, no. 18, pp. 3612-3625.
  • Bohnet, I, Hill, R, Turton, S et al. 2013, 'Supporting Regional Natural Resource management (NRM) organisations to update their NRM plans for adaptation to climate change', International Congress on Modelling and Simulation MODSIM 2013, ed. Piantadosi, J., Anderssen, R.S. and Boland J., Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand Inc., Australia, pp. 2214-2220.
  • Cvitanovic, C, Wilson, S, Fulton, C et al. 2013, 'Critical research needs for managing coral reef marine protected areas: Perspectives of academics and managers', Journal of Environmental Management, vol. 114, pp. 84-91.
  • Hoey, A, Pratchett, M & Cvitanovic, C 2011, 'High Macroalgal Cover and Low Coral Recruitment Undermines the Potential Resilience of the World's Southernmost Coral Reef Assemblages', PLOS ONE (Public Library of Science), vol. 6, no. 10, pp. 1-9.
  • Ceccarelli, D, Richards, Z, Pratchett, M et al 2011, 'Rapid increase in coral cover on an isolated coral reef, the Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve, north-western Australia', Marine and Freshwater Research, vol. 62, no. 10, pp. 1214-1220.
  • Cvitanovic, C & Hoey, A 2010, 'Benthic community composition influences within-habitat variation in macroalgal browsing on the Great Barrier Reef', Marine and Freshwater Research, vol. 61, no. 9, pp. 999-105.
  • Cvitanovic, C & Bellwood, D 2009, 'Local variation in herbivore feeding activity on an inshore reef of the Great Barrier Reef', Coral Reefs, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 127-133.