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Dr Rachel Turner

Dr Rachel Turner

Senior Lecturer in Environmental Social Science

 01326 259251

 Environment and Sustainability Institute 0.13


Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Penryn, Cornwall, TR10 9FE, UK


I am an environmental social scientist focusing on marine resource governance and coastal communities. My research focuses on understanding how socio-economic and environmental contexts drive resource use behavior and have implications for management and governance systems. I am interested in the dynamics of social-ecological systems and how resource users respond to change, and am committed to interdisciplinary research addressing challenges of sustainable natural resource management. Recent research has explored marine resource dependence and identification of supportive governance structures for effective Caribbean coral reef management. Current work in the UK focuses on wellbeing of fishers and fishing communities with a focus on health.

I am a member of the Environment and Sustainability Institute and of the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences.


2010 PhD Social and environmental drivers of fishers’ spatial behaviour in the Northumberland Lobster Fishery (Newcastle University)
2005 MSc Tropical Coastal Management (Newcastle University)
2003 BSc Development Studies (University of East Anglia)


2018 Senior Lecturer in Environmental Social Science, University of Exeter

2014 Lecturer in Environmental Social Science, University of Exeter

2010 Research Associate, University of the West Indies

Research group links

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Research interests

  • Coastal and marine resources
  • Natural resource management and governance
  • Resource-use behaviour and decision-making
  • Perceptions of and responses to environmental change
  • Social-ecological systems
  • Interdisciplinary research methods

Research projects

  • English Marine Spatial Planning and the Ocean Health Index
  • Delivering a Marine Protected Area network for fisheries and biodiversity of Central Africa 
  • Health and hidden vulnerability in UK fishing communities

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Journal articles

Witt M, Exeter O, Bicknell A, Kerry C, Htut T, Kyi MM, Mizrahi M, Turner R (In Press). Shining light on data-poor coastal fisheries. Frontiers in Marine Science
Claudet J, Blythe J, Gill DA, Bennett NJ, Gurney GG, Evans L, Mahajan SL, Turner RA, Ahmadia GN, Ban NC, et al (2024). Advancing ocean equity at the nexus of development, climate and conservation policy. Nature Ecology & Evolution
Honeybun-Arnolda E, Turner RA, Mukhopadhyay R, Collins C, Wills J (2024). Localising and democratising goal-based governance for sustainability. Environmental Science & Policy, 151, 103638-103638.
Blythe JL, Gill DA, Claudet J, Bennett NJ, Gurney GG, Baggio JA, Ban NC, Bernard ML, Brun V, Darling ES, et al (2023). Blue justice: a review of emerging scholarship and resistance movements. Cambridge Prisms: Coastal Futures, 1 Abstract.
Gill DA, Blythe J, Bennett N, Evans L, Brown K, Turner RA, Baggio JA, Baker D, Ban NC, Brun V, et al (2023). Triple exposure: Reducing negative impacts of climate change, blue growth, and conservation on coastal communities. One Earth, 6(2), 118-130. Abstract.
Turner RA, Wills J (2022). Downscaling doughnut economics for sustainability governance. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 56 Abstract.
Turner RA, Forster J, Fitzsimmons C, Mahon R (2022). Expanding narratives of governance constraints to improve coral reef conservation. Conserv Biol, 36(5). Abstract.  Author URL.
Szaboova L, Gustavsson M, Turner R (2022). Recognizing Women's Wellbeing and Contribution to Social Resilience in Fisheries. SOCIETY & NATURAL RESOURCES, 35(1), 59-74.  Author URL.
King TJ, Turner R, Versace V, Abernethy K, Kilpatrick S, Brumby S (2021). Mental health in the commercial fishing industry: Modern uncertainties and traditional risks. Fish and Fisheries, 22(5), 1136-1149. Abstract.
Maltby KM, Simpson SD, Turner RA (2021). Scepticism and perceived self-efficacy influence fishers’ low risk perceptions of climate change. Climate Risk Management, 31 Abstract.
Sainsbury NC, Schuhmann PW, Turner RA, Grilli G, Pinnegar JK, Genner MJ, Simpson SD (2021). Trade-offs between physical risk and economic reward affect fishers’ vulnerability to changing storminess. Global Environmental Change, 69, 102228-102228.
Turner R, McConney P, Monnereau I (2020). Climate Change Adaptation and Extreme Weather in the Small-Scale Fisheries of Dominica. Coastal Management, 48(5), 436-455.
Turner RA, Forster J, Peterson AM, Mahon R, Fitzsimmons C (2020). Information brokerage in Caribbean coral reef governance networks. Environmental Conservation, 47(4), 284-294. Abstract.
Gill DA, Oxenford HA, Turner RA, Schuhmann PW (2019). Making the most of data-poor fisheries: Low cost mapping of small island fisheries to inform policy. Marine Policy, 101, 198-207.
Morrison TH, Hughes TP, Adger WN, Brown K, Barnett J, Lemos MC, Huitema D, Huchery C, Chaigneau T, Turner R, et al (2019). Save reefs to rescue all ecosystems. NATURE, 573(7774), 333-336.  Author URL.
Morrison TH, Adger WN, Brown K, Lemos MC, Huitema D, Phelps J, Evans L, Cohen P, Song AM, Turner R, et al (2019). The black box of power in polycentric environmental governance. Global Environmental Change, 57 Abstract.
Sainsbury NC, Turner RA, Townhill BL, Mangi SC, Pinnegar JK (2019). The challenges of extending climate risk insurance to fisheries. Nature Climate Change, 9(12), 896-897.
Turner RA, Sainsbury NC, Wheeler BW (2019). The health of commercial fishers in England and Wales: Analysis of the 2011 census. Marine Policy, 106 Abstract.
Sainsbury NC, Genner MJ, Saville GR, Pinnegar JK, O’Neill CK, Simpson SD, Turner RA (2018). Changing storminess and global capture fisheries. Nature Climate Change, 8(8), 655-659. Abstract.
Turner R, Szaboova L, Williams G (2018). Constraints to healthcare access among commercial fishers. Social Science and Medicine, 216
Woodhead A, Abernethy K, Szaboova L, Turner R (2018). Health in fishing communities: a global perspective. Fish and Fisheries
Metcalfe K, Bréheret N, Chauvet E, Collins T, Curran BK, Parnell RJ, Turner RA, Witt MJ, Godley BJ (2018). Using satellite AIS to improve our understanding of shipping and fill gaps in ocean observation data to support marine spatial planning. Journal of Applied Ecology, 55(4), 1834-1845. Abstract.
Forster J, Turner RA, Fitzsimmons C, Peterson AM, Mahon R, Stead SM (2017). Evidence of a common understanding of proximate and distal drivers of reef health. Marine Policy, 84, 263-272. Abstract.
Coulthard S, Evans L, Turner R, Mills D, Foale S, Abernethy K, Hicks C, Monnereau I (2017). Exploring 'islandness' and the impacts of nature conservation through the lens of wellbeing. Environmental Conservation, 44(3), 298-309. Abstract.
Turner RA, Forster J, Fitzsimmons C, Gill D, Mahon R, Peterson A, Stead S (2017). Social fit of coral reef governance varies among individuals. Conservation Letters, 11(3). Abstract.
Monnereau I, Mahon R, McConney P, Nurse L, Turner R, Valles H (2017). The impact of methodological choices on the outcome of national-­level climate change vulnerability assessments: an example from the global fisheries sector. Fish and Fisheries
Metcalfe K, Collins T, Abernethy KE, Boumba R, Dengui J, Miyalou R, Parnell RJ, Plummer KE, Russell DJF, Safou GK, et al (2016). Addressing Uncertainty in Marine Resource Management; Combining Community Engagement and Tracking Technology to Characterize Human Behavior. Conservation Letters, 10(4), 460-469. Abstract.
Turner R, Addison J, Arias A, Bergseth BJ, Marshall NA, Morrison TH, Tobin RC (2016). Trust, confidence, and equity affect the legitimacy of natural resource. governance. Ecology and Society: a journal of integrative science for resilience and sustainability, 21
Turner RA, Polunin NVC, Stead SM (2015). Mapping inshore fisheries: Comparing observed and perceived distributions of pot fishing activity in Northumberland. Marine Policy, 51, 173-181. Abstract.
Turner RA, Fitzsimmons C, Forster, J, Mahon R, Peterson A, Stead S (2014). Measuring good governance for complex ecosystems: Perceptions of coral reef-dependent communities in the Caribbean. Global Environmental Change(29), 105-117.
Turner RA, Polunin NVC, Stead SM (2014). Social networks and fishers' behavior: Exploring the links between information flow and fishing success in the Northumberland lobster fishery. Ecology and Society, 19(2). Abstract.
Turner RA, Gray T, Polunin NVC, Stead SM (2013). Territoriality as a Driver of Fishers' Spatial Behavior in the Northumberland Lobster Fishery. Society and Natural Resources, 26(5), 491-505. Abstract.
Wilson SK, Fisher R, Pratchett MS, Graham NAJ, Dulvy NK, Turner RA, Cakacaka A, Polunin NVC (2010). Habitat degradation and fishing effects on the size structure of coral reef fish communities. Ecological Applications, 20(2), 442-451. Abstract.
WILSON SK, FISHER R, PRATCHETT MS, GRAHAM NAJ, DULVY NK, TURNER RA, CAKACAKA A, POLUNIN NVC, RUSHTON SP (2008). Exploitation and habitat degradation as agents of change within coral reef fish communities. Global Change Biology, 14(12), 2796-2809. Abstract.
Turner RA, Cakacaka A, Graham NAJ, Polunin NVC, Pratchett MS, Stead SM, Wilson SK (2007). Declining reliance on marine resources in remote South Pacific societies: Ecological versus socio-economic drivers. Coral Reefs, 26(4), 997-1008. Abstract.


Monnereau I, Mahon R, McConney P, Nurse L, Turner R, Vallès H (2021). Fisheries Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change in Small Island Developing States. In  (Ed) Small Island Developing States, Springer Nature, 233-255.
Turner R, Gill D, FItzsimmons C, Forster J, Mahon R, Peterson A, Stead S (2018). Supporting Enhancement of Stewardship in Small-Scale Fisheries: Perceptions of Governance Among Caribbean Coral Reef Fishers. In Salas S, Barragán-Paladines M, Chuenpagdee R (Eds.) Viability and Sustainability of Small-Scale Fisheries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Springer. Abstract.


Wills J, Turner R, Collins C, Honeybun-Arnolda E (2022). A Civic Lantern to engage civic and civil society in goal-setting for sustainability in Cornwall: a research report.  Penryn, Cornwall, Environment and Sustainability Institute. Abstract.
Wills J, Turner R, Collins C, Mukhopadhyay R (2022). Annual Review of the Cornwall Plan (2021-2022). Research into partnerships and collaborative working for the delivery of the Cornwall Plan. Cornwall Council,  Penryn, Cornwall, Environment and Sustainability Institute. Abstract.
Wills J, Turner R, Collins C, Honeybun-Arnolda E, Mukhopadhyay R (2022). Localising and decentralising goal-based governance for sustainability in England: Policy summary.  Penryn, Cornwall, Environment and Sustainability Institute. Abstract.
Turner R, Blundell A, Collins C, Exeter O, Wills J (2021). Sustainable Development in Cornwall: Local Perspectives on Challenges and Opportunities. Penryn, Cornwall, Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter. 72 pages.
Turner R, Poznansky F, Smirthwaite N, Blundell A, Benson D, Gaston K, Hamshar J, Maclean I, Wills J, Yan X, et al (2020). Towards a sustainable Cornwall: State of the Doughnut. Penryn, Cornwall, Environment and Sustainability Institute, University of Exeter. 71 pages. Abstract.
Bicknell A, Turner R, Metcalfe K, Doherty P, Callow M, Witt M (2016). Field manual for socio-economic, fisheries & marine vertebrate surveys in Myanmar.
Birth F, Pikesley S, Bicknell A, Callow M, Doherty P, Exeter O, Kerry C, Metcalfe K, Turner R, Witt M, et al (2016). Myanmar Marine Biodiversity Atlas.

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Office Hours:

15 min office hour appointments for students are bookable using the link HERE.

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