Welcome to the Marine & Coastal Conservation Spatial Planning Lab.

Ellen Hines, PhD
Contact: ehines@sfsu.edu

'Aligning science and policy to conserve marine and coastal habitat'


The Marine & Coastal Conservation and Spatial Planning Lab at San Francisco State University, part of the Institute for Geographic Information Science, is a research center dedicated to utilizing and developing the most relevant, powerful and practical geospatial tools to contribute to interdisciplinary marine and coastal conservation. 

Our faculty, students and collaborators seek to describe, model and predict the effects of human use on the marine and coastal environment.  This includes habitat modeling and mapping for marine endangered species and ecosystems, sea level change scenarios, documenting of human use and values. 

Marine spatial planning (MSP) is an interdisciplinary concept to help us understand and value ecosystem services in communities.  Geospatial tools for mapping resources and analyzing research as part of MSP are available, and need to be locally/regionally relevant. 

Our goals are 1) to develop practical and repeatable research methods to inform MSP, and 2) to contribute to the development, application and standardization of MSP tools locally and internationally. 

Within the Department of Geography and Human Environmental Studies, students can work to achieve a Masters of Arts in Geography, Masters of Arts in Geography with a concentration in Resource Management and Environmental Planning, and a Masters of Science in Geographic Information Science. At the Romberg Tiburon Center, where we have our Lab, students can also achieve a Masters of Science in Marine Science.


Researchers & Students

  • Ellen Hines, PI (link to C.V.)
  • Winston Halapua (MSGIS): Vulnerable low-lying residentail areas in Tongatapu Region, Tonga
  • Timothe Vincent (MSGIS): Finless porpoises in Hong Kong Harbor: Population distribution, habitat use and environmental planning.
  • Kristal Ip (MA-RMEP): Exploring acoustic geography: methodology and case study in San Francisco, California.
  • Caitlin Jensen (MSGIS): Spatial and temporal variability in shipping traffic around San Francisco Bay. NOAA Nancy Foster Scholar
  • Andrea Dransfield (MA-RMEP): Hotspot analysis of humpback whales along Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones, Central California. California Sea Grant Fellow, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary
  • Jennifer McGowen (MA-RMEP): Using seabird habitat modeling to inform marine spatial planning in central California's National Marine Sanctuaries. Current PhD Student, Hugh Possingham, University of Queensland, Australia (link to paper)
  • Justine Jackson-Ricketts (PhD Candidate UC Santa Cruz: Chair Dan Costa)): Spatial distribution analysis of coastal Irrawaddy dolphins in Trat Province, Thailand
  • Tara Whitty (PhD Candidate Scripps Institute of Oceanography: Chair Lisa Ballance) Ecosystem-based management approach to understanding & mitigating the bycatch of small cetaceans in artisanal fisheries.
  • Kota Funayama (MA): Effects of sea-level rise on northern elephant seals at Point Reyes peninsula (link to paper)
  • Matt Merrifield (MA): Building regional threat-based networks for estuaries in the western United States. Director of GeoDesign at The Nature Conservancy. (link to paper)
  • Dori Dick (MA-RMEP): Abundance and spatial habitat analysis of bottlenose dolphins at Turneffe Atoll, Belize. Current PhD student, Dawn Wright, Oregon State University (link to paper)
  • Sadie Waddington (MA): Qualitative study of sediment accumulation due to mangrove removal at Turneffe Atoll, Belize
  • Stefanie Egan (MA): Using a GIS for planning a Biosphere Reserve Turneffe Atoll, Belize
  • Jim Pettigrew (MA): Invasive green crabs in Tomales Bay
  • Suzanne Holguin (MA): Manatees in Turneffe Atoll, Belize


Updates & Events

Dr. Hines and Dr. Rebecca Lewison of San Diego State University has been awarded a grant from SESYNC to organize a series of workshops under the Venture Program on "Developing an integrated framework to model resilience of the coupled human/natural environment in tropical and sub-tropical coastal systems". The first workshop will be the last week of April.