Callum Roberts

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For the Newcastle United football player, see Callum Roberts (footballer).
Callum Roberts
Institutions University of York
Alma mater University of York
Thesis Aspects of coral reef fish community structure in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea and on the Great Barrier Reef (1986)

Callum Michael Roberts is a marine conservation biologist, oceanographer, author, research scholar at the University of York, England.[1]

His work examines the impact of human activity on marine ecosystems, particularly coral reefs. In St. Lucia and Saba in the Caribbean, he has studied the effects of marine reserves closed to all fishing. His studies revealed both the scale of human impacts on the sea, and the means of protecting marine ecosystems from such effects. He is now working to gain a wider acceptance for marine reserves, including in Britain and Europe where he is advising fishermen on how to promote the concept within the industry and to politicians.

Callum has served on a US National Research Council Committee on Marine Protected Areas and has also been a member of the Marine Reserves Working Group, headed up by Jane Lubchenco, Steve Gaines and Steve Palumbi at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara. With this group he sought to develop a more robust theoretical underpinning for the design and implementation of marine reserves.

In parallel with work on reserves, Callum has also been active with the Coral Reef Fish Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). With colleagues, he has developed global maps of the biodiversity distribution of reef fishes and other faunal groups. These maps have revealed that marine species are more at risk of global extinction than previously believed. Many have small geographic ranges and life history characteristics that render them vulnerable to extinction. However, the maps also show ways to prioritise conservation investment into areas where those resources could be most effective.

He was awarded a Pew fellowship in marine conservation in 2000 to tackle obstacles to implementing marine reserves, and in 2001 he was awarded a Hardy fellowship in conservation biology at Harvard University. Roberts is also an active supporter of the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition.

Publications since 1996[edit]


  • The Unnatural History of the Sea, Callum Roberts, Island Press: Washington, D.C., 465 pgs., 2007
  • 'Managing Recreational Use of Coral Reefs' C.M. Roberts & N. Barker (in press) .
  • 'National Research Council Committee on the Evaluation, Design and Monitoring of Marine Reserves and Protected Areas'. Houde, E. (Chair), C.M. Roberts, S. Smith, G. Somero, R. Stoffle, J. Wilen and S. Roberts. Marine Protected Areas: Tools for Sustaining Ocean Ecosystems. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, pp. 272, 2001.
  • Fully Protected Marine Reserves: Roberts, C.M. and J.P. Hawkins. A Guide: Endangered Seas Campaign, WWF-US, Washington DC, and University of York, UK. 131pp.
  • Series in Fish Biology and Fisheries No. 20.C.M. Roberts (eds), Reef Fisheries. Chapman and Hall, Chapman and Hall, London, pp. 477, 1996.

Chapters in books[edit]

  • Roberts, C.M. (in press) Marine biodiversity: distribution and threats. In E. Chivian, ed. Human health consequences of biodiversity loss. Cambridge University Press and World Health Organisation.
  • Norse, E.A., L.B. Crowder, K. Gjerde, D. Hyrenbach, C.M. Roberts, C. Safina and M.E. Soule. (in press). The Potential for Reserves as an Ecosystem-based Management Tool in the Open Ocean. Chapter 18 in E. Norse & L. Crowder, eds. Marine Conservation Biology: The Science of Maintaining the Sea’s Biodiversity. Island Press, Washington DC, USA.
  • Roberts, C. M. Marine protected areas and biodiversity conservation. (in press). In E. Norse and L. Crowder, eds. Marine Conservation Biology: The Science of Maintaining the Sea’s Biodiversity. Island Press, Washington DC, USA.
  • Reynolds, J.D., N.K. Dulvy and C.M. Roberts. (in press). Exploitation and other threats to fish conservation. In P. Hart and J.D. Reynolds, eds, Fisheries Handbook (in 3 volumes), Blackwell Science, Oxford.
  • Roberts, C.M. (2000) Why does fishery management so often fail? Pages 170-192 in Huxham, M. and Sumner, D., eds. Science and environmental decision making. Harlow: Addison Wesley Longman.
  • Rodwell, L.D. and C.M. Roberts. (2000) Economics of no-take marine reserves. Pages 107-124 in: H. Cesar, ed. Economics of coral reefs: valuation and management issues, World Bank, Washington, D.C. 244pp.
  • Price, A.R.G., C.M. Roberts, and J.P. Hawkins. (1998) Recreational use of coral reefs in the Maldives and Caribbean. Chapter 9 in E.J. Milner Gulland and R. Mace, Conservation of Biological Resources, pages 242-260. Blackwell Science, Oxford.
  • Ormond, R.F.G. and C.M. Roberts. (1997). Biodiversity of coral reef fish, in R.F.G. Ormond, J.D. Gage and M.V. Angel (eds), Marine Biodiversity: Patterns and Processes. Cambridge University Press, UK, 216-257.
  • Polunin, N.V.C., C.M. Roberts, and D. Pauly (1996). Reef fisheries: problems and prospects, in N.V.C. Polunin and C.M. Roberts (eds.), Reef Fisheries, Chapman and Hall, London, 361-377.
  • Roberts, C.M. (1996). Settlement and beyond: population regulation and community structure, in N.V.C. Polunin and C.M. Roberts (eds.), Reef Fisheries, Chapman and Hall, London, 85-112.


  • Roberts, C.M., J.P. Hawkins & F.R. Gell (in press). The role of marine reserves in achieving sustainable fisheries. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.
  • Rodwell, L.D. and C.M. Roberts (2005). Fishing and the impact of marine reserves in a variable environment. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 61: 2053-2068.
  • Balmford A, Gravestock P, Hockley N, C. McClean and C.M. Roberts. (2004). The Worldwide costs of marine protected areas. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 101: 9694-9697.
  • Chivian, E., C.M. Roberts and A. Bernstein. (2004) How much at risk are cone snails? Science 303: 956.
  • Hawkins, J.P. and C.M. Roberts (2004) Effects of artisanal fishing on Caribbean coral reefs. Conservation Biology 18: 215-226.
  • Hawkins, J.P. and C.M. Roberts (2003) Effects of fishing on sex-changing Caribbean parrotfishes. Biological Conservation 115: 213-226.
  • Roberts, C.M. (2003) Our shifting perspectives on the oceans. Oryx 37: 166-177.
  • Milner-Gulland, E.J., E.L. Bennett, K. Abernethy, M. Bakarr, R. Bodmer, J. Brashares, G. Cowlishaw, P. Elkan, H. Eves, J. Fa, C. Peres, C.M. Roberts, J. Robinson, M. Rowliffe & D. Wilkie. (2003) Wild meat: the bigger picture. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18: 351-357.
  • Gell, F.R. and C.M. Roberts (2003) Benefits beyond boundaries: the fishery effects of marine reserves and fishery closures. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18: 448-455.
  • Chivian, E., C.M. Roberts and A. Bernstein. (2003). The threat to cone snails. Science 302: 391.
  • Roberts, C. M., S. Andelman, G. Branch, R. Bustamante, J.C. Castilla, J. Dugan, B. Halpern, K. Lafferty, H. Leslie, J. Lubchenco, D. McArdle, H. Possingham, M. Ruckleshaus, and R. Warner. (2003) Ecological criteria for evaluating candidate sites for marine reserves. Ecological Applications 13 (Supplement): S199-S214.
  • Roberts, C.M., G. Branch, R. Bustamante, J.C. Castilla, J. Dugan, B. Halpern, K. Lafferty, H. Leslie, J. Lubchenco, D. McArdle, M. Ruckleshaus, and R. Warner. (2003) Application of ecological criteria in selecting marine reserves and developing reserve networks. Ecological Applications 13 (Supplement): S215-S228.
  • Rodwell, L.D., E.B. Barbier, C.M. Roberts and T.R. McClanahan (2003) The importance of habitat quality for marine reserve-fishery linkages. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 60: 171-181.
  • Nugues, M.M. and C.M. Roberts (2003). Partial mortality in massive reef corals as an indicator of sediment stress on coral reefs. Marine Pollution Bulletin 46: 314-323.
  • Nugues, M.M. and C.M. Roberts (2003) Coral mortality and interaction with algae in relation to sedimentation. Coral Reefs 22: 507-516.
  • Rodwell, L.D., E.B. Barbier, C.M. Roberts and T.R. McClanahan (2002) A model of tropical marine reserve-fishery linkages. Natural Resource Modeling 15: 453-486.
  • Roberts, C.M. and H. Sargant (2002) Fishery benefits of fully protected marine reserves: why habitat and behaviour are important. Natural Resource Modeling 15: 487-507.
  • Roberts, C.M. 2002. Deep impact: the rising toll of fishing in the deep sea. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 17: 242-245.
  • Roberts, C.M., C.J. McClean, J.E.N. Veron, J.P. Hawkins, G.R. Allen, D.E. McAllister, C.G. Mittermeier, F.W. Schueler, M. Spalding, F. Wells, C. Vynne and T.B. Werner (2002) Coral reef biodiversity and conservation. Science 296: 1026-1028.
  • Roberts, C.M., C.J. McClean, J.E.N. Veron, J.P. Hawkins, G.R. Allen, D.E. McAllister, C.G. Mittermeier, F.W. Schueler, M. Spalding, F. Wells, C. Vynne and T.B. Werner (2002) Marine biodiversity hotspots and conservation priorities for tropical reefs. Science 295: 1280-1284.
  • Roberts, C.M., J.A. Bohnsack, F.R. Gell, J.P. Hawkins and R. Goodridge. (2002). Marine reserves and fisheries management. Science 295: 1233-1235.
  • Nagelkerken, I., C.M. Roberts, G. van der Velde, M. Dorenbosch, M.C. van Riel, E. Cocheret de la Moriniere, P.H. Nienhuis. (2002). How important are mangroves and seagrass beds for coral reef fish? The nursery hypothesis tested at an island scale. Marine Ecology Progress Series 244: 299-305.
  • Roberts, C.M., J.A. Bohnsack, F.R. Gell, J.P. Hawkins and R. Goodridge. (2001). Effects of marine reserves on adjacent fisheries. Science, 294: 1920-1923.
  • Roberts, C.M., B. Halpern, S.R. Palumbi and R.R. Warner. (2001) Designing Networks of Marine Reserves: Why Small, Isolated Protected Areas Are Not Enough. Conservation Biology in Practice 2(3), 10-17.
  • Hawkins, J.P., C.M. Roberts and V. Clark. (2000) The threatened status of restricted range coral reef fish species. Animal Conservation 3: 81-88.
  • Pezzey, J.C.V., C.M. Roberts and B.T. Urdal. (2000) A simple bioeconomic model of a marine reserve. Ecological Economics 33: 77-91.
  • Morris, A.V., C. M. Roberts and J. P. Hawkins. (2000) The threatened status of groupers (Epinephelinae). Biodiversity and Conservation 9: 919-942.
  • Roberts, C. M. Selecting the locations of marine reserves: optimality vs opportunism. (2000) Bulletin of Marine Science 66: 581-592.
  • Sladek Nowlis, J.S. and C.M. Roberts. (1999) Fisheries benefits and optimal design of marine reserves. Fishery Bulletin 97: 604-616.
  • Hawkins, J.P., C.M. Roberts, T. van’t Hof, K. de Meyer, J. Tratalos and C. Aldam. (1999) Effects of recreational scuba diving on Caribbean coral and fish communities. Conservation Biology: 13: 888-897.
  • Roberts, C.M., and J.P. Hawkins. (1999) Extinction risk in the sea. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 14: 241-246.
  • Roberts, C.M. (1998) Sources, sinks and the design of marine reserve networks. Fisheries 23(7): 16-19.
  • Roberts, C.M. (1997) Connectivity and management of Caribbean coral reefs. Science, 278, 1454-1457.
  • Sladek Nowlis, J., C.M. Roberts, A. Smith and E. Siirila. (1997) Human enhanced impacts of a tropical storm on nearshore coral reefs. Ambio 26: 515-521.
  • Roberts, C.M. and J.P. Hawkins. (1997) How small can a marine reserve be and still be effective? Coral Reefs 16, 150.
  • Roberts, C.M. (1997) Ecological advice for the global fisheries crisis. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 12, 35-38.
  • Readman, J.W., I. Tolosa, Ah. Theem Law, J. Bartocci, T. Hamilton, L.D. Mee, A. Wagener, M. Le Tissier, C. Roberts, N. Downing and A.R.G. Price. (1996) Discrete bands of petroleum hydrocarbons and molecular organic markers identified within massive coral skeletons. Marine Pollution Bulletin 32, 437-443.

Conference contributions[edit]

Roberts, C.M. (1998). Permanent no-take zones: a minimum standard for effective marine protected areas. Pages 96–100 in M. Hatziolos, A.J. Hooten & M. Fodor, eds, Coral Reefs. Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Development. The World Bank, Washington, DC, 1998.

Roberts, C.M. (1998) No-take marine reserves: unlocking the potential for fisheries. Pages 127-132 in Earll, R.C. (ed), Marine Environmental Management: Review of Events in 1997 and Future Trends. Candle Cottage, Kempley, Gloucester, GL18 2BU, 167pp.

Hawkins, J.P. and C.M. Roberts. (1997) Estimating the carrying capacity of coral reefs for recreational scuba diving. Proc. 8th Int. Coral reef Symp., Panama, 2, 1923-1926.

Nowlis, J.S. and C.M. Roberts. (1997) You can have your fish and eat it too: theoretical approaches to marine reserve design. Proceedings of the 8th Int. Coral reef Symp., Panama, 2, 1907-1910.

Selected scientific reports[edit]

Roberts, C.M. (2004) Predicted impacts on deepwater fisheries and habitats of allowing access to the waters of the Azores EEZ by fishing vessels from other EU states. Environment Department, University of York. Gell, F.R. and C.M. Roberts. (2003). The fishery effects of marine reserves and fishery closures. WWF-US, Washington, DC. 89pp. Roberts, C.M., F.R. Gell, and J.P. Hawkins (2003) Protecting Nationally Important Marine Areas in the Irish Sea Pilot Project Region. Report to the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, UK. Gell, F.R., Clark, A. and C.M. Roberts (2002) Preliminary report on the economic effects of marine reserves on the reef fishery of Soufrière, Saint Lucia, West Indies. Environment Dept, University of York, UK

Roberts, C.M. (2001). Comments on draft concept design for marine life protection areas in California. Report to World Wildlife Fund – US, 13pp. Roberts, C.M. (1999) Zoning of the Galápagos Marine Reserve. Report to World Wildlife Fund – US, 32pp.

Hudson, E., J. Baillie, H. Hall, G. M. Mace, A. Punt, C. Roberts, Y. Sadovy, C. Safina, J. Sobel, and A. Vincent (1996) Threatened fish? Initial guidelines for applying the IUCN Red List criteria to marine fishes. IUCN

Ormond, R.F.G. and Douglas, A. (eds.) (1996) Exploitation of coral reefs. British Ecological Society, Ecological Issues Booklet No. 7. British Ecological Society, London. 47pp. (co-author).

Semi-popular articles Roberts, C.M. (in press) Turning the clock back 200 years: putting refuges back in the ocean. Currents, journal of the Marine Educators Association, Washington DC, USA.

Roberts, C.M., J.P. Hawkins and F.R. Gell (2003) More fish in the sea. Planet Earth, Autumn 2003, pp 19–22. Natural Environment Research Council, UK.

F.R. Gell & C.M. Roberts (2003) Marine reserves for fisheries management and conservation: a win-win strategy. El Anzuelo, International Institute for Environment and Development, London.

Roberts, C.M. (2003) Enforcing no-take zones. In Marine Conservation, magazine of the Britain’s Marine Conservation Society, Ross-on-Wye, UK.

Roberts, C.M. (1998) Don’t shoot the Stoplight! Reef Encounter 23: 13.

Roberts, C.M. (1998) Overfishing: why we should stop fishing for a solution. Marine Conservation 4(2): 8-9. Marine Conservation Society, Ross-on-Wye, UK.

Roberts, C.M. (1997) Marine Reserves are for fishermen. The Star, St. Lucia. August 1997.


1999-2003. Member of editorial board of Conservation Biology, published by the Society for Conservation Biology.

1997-2000. Member of Editorial board of journal Animal Conservation, published by Cambridge University Press.

1996. Senior editor of the proceedings of a symposium: “Marine reserves: Function and Design” held at the 8th International Coral Reef Symposium, Panama.

1991-1996. Co-editor of Reef Encounter, Newsletter of the International Society for Reef Studies.

IUCN Database[edit]

Roberts has also played a major role in creating a global database of coral reef fish biodiversity, in collaboration with members of the IUCN Coral Reef Fish Specialist Group, Chaired by Dr Don McAllister (Ocean Voice International) and Patty Almada-Villela. The project has significantly advanced understanding of the global patterns and determinants of marine biological diversity and provided urgently needed information to establish and guide conservation priorities for the tropical marine environment.