Stacy Jupiter

Marine Scientist Class of 2019
Portrait of Stacy Jupiter

Integrating local cultural practices with field research to design conservation strategies that protect ecosystem biodiversity and the well-being of coastal communities.

About Stacy's Work

Stacy Jupiter is a marine scientist integrating local cultural practices with field research to develop conservation solutions that protect both the biodiversity of coastal ecosystems and the well-being of communities dependent on them. Working in concert with local communities, Jupiter is establishing and applying new approaches to natural resource management based on traditional ecological knowledge and practices that take into account the livelihoods and food security of inhabitants.

Jupiter works primarily in Melanesia, a Pacific region that includes Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea and that is of particular importance to conservation efforts due to its extraordinary biodiversity. The primary method used by Melanesian communities to manage coral reef natural resources is periodic closures to fishing (known as tabu). Jupiter joined villagers in experimental harvests and provided clear scientific evidence of the efficacy of their approach, as well as the means for communities to make more informed decisions about when, where, and how long to close off areas of the reef. Her research has the potential for improving the sustainability of thousands of tabu areas across the southwestern Pacific, and Jupiter is spearheading efforts to link these locally managed marine areas to larger-scale marine spatial planning processes, thereby enabling multiple, overlapping conservation efforts. Her research on linkages between land and sea use is uncovering the multiple impacts of extractive industries in the region. With collaborators she has shown how increases in logging and mining not only have downstream implications for water quality on coral reefs but also play a critical role in transmission patterns of waterborne diseases such as typhoid.

Recognizing that broad-based local support of conservation efforts is critical to their success, Jupiter creates tailored materials to communicate with a range of stakeholders, from comic books and puppet shows to teach children about marine conservation to scientific reports that inform national policy on coastal fisheries and guides on best practices for holistic resource management in the Pacific Islands. Jupiter has successfully demonstrated that effective ecosystem management and conservation is enhanced by integrating science with the social drivers of resource use and community well-being, and she is poised to play a critical role in ensuring that global conservation efforts result in equitable outcomes for all communities.


Stacy Jupiter received an AB (1997) from Harvard University and a PhD (2006) from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Affiliated with the Wildlife Conservation Society since 2008, she served as director of the Fiji Country Program from 2009 to 2014, prior to assuming her current role as director of the Melanesia Program. Jupiter’s scientific articles have been published in Nature, PLoS One, the Journal of Marine Biology, and the Journal of Applied Ecology, among other journals.

Quote from Stacy

My work focuses on understanding the impacts of environmental change and using the outcomes to reconnect people to nature...

Through technology and ingenuity, people have transformed the very systems on Earth that keep us alive and enable our climate, water and food, while at the same time becoming more detached from the environment. This is leading to tipping points where degraded land and seascapes can no longer support people and the species they depend on. My work focuses on understanding the impacts of environmental change and using the outcomes to reconnect people to nature so that they will make smarter decisions that both protect the planet and improve human well-being. The Pacific islands offer tremendous opportunities for teaching lessons to the world about environmental sustainability through reinvigorating customary knowledge and practice and building on people’s strong cultural attachment to place.

Published on September 25, 2019

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