Coral Reefs

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 567–576 | Cite as

Research partnerships with local communities: two case studies from Papua New Guinea and Australia

  • G. R. AlmanyEmail author
  • R. J. Hamilton
  • D. H. Williamson
  • R. D. Evans
  • G. P. Jones
  • M. Matawai
  • T. Potuku
  • K. L. Rhodes
  • G. R. Russ
  • B. Sawynok


Partnerships between scientists and local communities can increase research capacity and data delivery while improving management effectiveness through enhanced community participation. To encourage such collaboration, this study demonstrates how these partnerships can be formed, drawing on two case studies in coral reef ecosystems in very different social settings (Papua New Guinea and Australia). In each case, steps towards successfully engaging communities in research were similar. These included: (1) early engagement by collaborating organizations to build trust, (2) ensuring scientific questions have direct relevance to the community, (3) providing appropriate incentives for participation, and (4) clear and open communication. Community participants engaged in a variety of research activities, including locating and capturing fishes, collecting and recording data (weight, length and sex), applying external tags, and removing otoliths (ear bones) for ageing and elemental analysis. Research partnerships with communities enhanced research capacity, reduced costs and, perhaps more importantly, improved the likelihood of long-term community support for marine protected areas (MPAs).


Coral reefs Community-based management Local knowledge Participatory research 



In Manus, we are grateful to the Pere, Locha, Tawi, and Mbunai communities for their hospitality, assistance, and permission to work on their reefs. In the Keppel Islands, we thank CapReef and the recreational fishing community for their support and assistance. Insightful reviews and suggestions for improvement on manuscript drafts were provided by PL Munday, KR Ruddle, R Walter, AT White, and two anonymous reviewers. Funding was provided by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility (MTSRF), and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. R. Almany
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. J. Hamilton
    • 2
  • D. H. Williamson
    • 1
  • R. D. Evans
    • 1
    • 7
    • 8
  • G. P. Jones
    • 1
  • M. Matawai
    • 3
  • T. Potuku
    • 4
  • K. L. Rhodes
    • 5
  • G. R. Russ
    • 1
  • B. Sawynok
    • 6
  1. 1.ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and School of Marine and Tropical BiologyJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.The Nature Conservancy, Indo-Pacific Resource CentreSouth BrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.The Nature Conservancy, Manus Field OfficeLorengauPapua New Guinea
  4. 4.The Nature Conservancy, Kavieng Field OfficeKaviengPapua New Guinea
  5. 5.College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource ManagementThe University of Hawaii at HiloHiloUSA
  6. 6.Infofish ServicesFrenchvilleAustralia
  7. 7.Western Australian Fisheries and Marine Research LaboratoriesDepartment of FisheriesPerthAustralia
  8. 8.School of Plant BiologyUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia

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