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A Partnership of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources & Environment, Brown University and Duke University

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About the Site

Recognizing the declining health of the world’s oceans, policymakers, managers and scientists have called for expanded efforts at ecosystem-based management in marine and coastal systems (MEBM). In many places in North America and around the world, collaborative, adaptive planning and management processes have developed to enable scientists, managers and stakeholders to move beyond management of single species and single user groups to incorporate complexity, consider larger scales and longer timeframes, and incorporate measures of ecosystem integrity.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation invested in the development of science to support management in a number of initiatives in California, Mexico and the Western Pacific. The Foundation also recognized the need to capture the lessons from the experiences at these initiatives as well as the many other places that are trying to move toward an ecosystem-based management approach. Accordingly, they provided grant support to research teams at the University of Michigan and Brown University to develop rich case studies of MEBM, documenting the approaches and their accomplishments, and analyzing the challenges the efforts faced and the factors that have promoted progress. Ultimately, the projects seek to provide lessons that can improve the practice of MEBM.

This website contains summaries of twenty case studies and forty-five case snapshots. It also provides overviews of lessons learned through cross-case analysis. The case studies involved extensive research including interviews of many involved individuals, agencies and other organizations. The case snapshots involved web-based reviews and document analysis.

Dr. Julia Wondolleck and Dr. Steven Yaffee (University of Michigan) and Dr. Heather Leslie and Dr. Leila Sievanen (Brown University) and Dr. Lisa Campbell (Duke University) headed the research teams. Additional insights about ecosystem management can be found at the University of Michigan Ecosystem Management Initiative website and the Leslie Lab at Brown University.

Research assistance was provided by: Dave Gershman, Amanda Barker, Kate Crosman, Clayton Elliott, Michael Fainter, Tara Gancos Crawford, Jason Good, Matt Griffis, Rebecca Gruby, Kirsten Howard, Colin Hume, Elise Hunter, Jennifer Johnson, Stacy Mates, Sarah McKearnan, Amy Samples, Sarah Tomsky and Cristina Villanueva.

Website development and implementation was handled by the Michigan team, with design by Hammond Design  and Useful Solutions, LLC.

For feedback or further information about the study or website, please email Dr. Steven Yaffee at

Unless otherwise indicated, the material on this website should be cited as: “Julia Wondolleck and Steven Yaffee, Marine Ecosystem-Based Management in Practice (Ann Arbor MI:  School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, June 2012),”