Global Reef Systems Lead
Lizzie McLeod Global Reef Systems Lead © Courtesy Lizzie McLeod

Our People

Lizzie Mcleod

Global Reef Systems Lead

Arlington, VA


    Coral Reefs, Marine Protected Areas, Blue Carbon, Climate, Marine Spatial Planning, Gender Equity


    Lizzie McLeod on Google Scholar


Dr. Lizzie Mcleod leads TNC's coral reef and shellfish work globally. She has spent the last fifteen years developing and implementing strategies to reduce the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems and coastal communities and developing tools to improve reef management. She was instrumental in developing TNC’s Reef Resilience toolkit and trainings, which have trained nearly 1,500 reef managers in more than 75 countries on the best practices for addressing threats to coral reefs.

In her prior role, she served as a Climate Scientist for the Pacific Division and the Science Lead for the Reef Resilience Network, which provides the latest scientific guidance and resources to help reef managers around the world address threats to coral reefs.

She has worked on coral reef projects across Micronesia, Indonesia, and Melanesia, modeling the impacts of climate change, conducting reef resilience assessments, developing research priorities and reef management recommendations, assessing ocean acidification, and leading assessments of community vulnerability to climate change. She is also leading an effort to ensure gender equity is integrated into conservation projects.

Lizzie has lived and worked in the US, Asia, Pacific, and Caribbean. She received her PhD assessing climate impacts on tropical systems from the University of Hawai'i, and she has led collaborative research with over 25 of the world’s leading marine research institutions. She has published extensively on topics such as climate vulnerability, marine protected areas, conservation planning, reef resilience, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, blue carbon, customary tenure, gender equity, and partnerships between religious groups and conservation. 

She frequently speaks on conservation topics at national and international conferences and serves as Editor for two conservation journals: Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment and Coastal Management.

Read some of her blog posts on Cool Green Science.

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For a full listing of Lizzie McLeod's publications, please see Google Scholar

Förster, J., E. Mcleod, M. Bruton- Adams, and H. Wittmer. 2019. Climate Change Impacts on Small Island States: Ecosystem Services Risks and Opportunities. In M. Schröter et al. (eds.), Atlas of Ecosystem Services, Springer International Publishing AG, Springer Nature.

Gattuso, J.-P., A.K. Magnan, L. Bopp, W. Cheung, C. Duarte, J. Hinkel, E. Mcleod, F. Micheli, A. Oschlies, P. Williamson, R. Billé, V. Chalastani, R. Gates, J.-O. Irisson, J. Middelburg, H.-O. Pörtner, and G. Rau. Ocean solutions to address climate change and its effects on marine ecosystems. Frontiers in Marine Science 5, 337.

Mcleod, E., K. Anthony, J. Maynard, P.J. Mumby, R. Beeden, N.A.J. Graham, S.F. Heron, O. Hoegh-Guldberg, S. Jupiter, P. MacGowan, S. Mangubhai, N. Marshall, P. Marshall, T.R. McClanahan, K. Mcleod, M. Nyström, D. Obura, B. Parker, H.P. Possingham, R.V. Salm, and J. Tamelander. The future of resilience-based management in coral reef ecosystems. Journal of environmental management 233: 291-301.

Mcleod, E., S. Arora-Jonsson, Y. Masuda, M. Bruton-Adams, C.E. Dengokl, B. Gorong, C.J. Hudlow, R. James, H. Kuhlken, B. Masike-Liri, E. Musrasrik-Carl, A. Otzelberger, K. Relang, B.M. Reyuw, B. Sigrah, J. Tellei, L. Whitford. 2018. Raising the voices of Pacific Island women to inform climate adaptation policies. Marine Policy 93: 178-185.

Howard, J., E. Mcleod, S. Thomas, E. Eastwood, M. Fox, L. Wenzel, and E. Pidgeon. 2017. The potential to integrate blue carbon into MPA design and management. Aquatic Conservation 27(S1): 100-115.

Mcleod, E. 2017. Turning science into actions: What scientists can do to inform marine resource management. Marine Ecosystems and Management 10(4).

Howard, J., A. Sutton-Grier, D. Herr, J. Kleypas, E. Landis, E. Mcleod, E. Pidgeon, and S. Simpson. 2017. Clarifying the role of coastal and marine systems in climate mitigation. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 10.1002/fee.1451.

Forster, J., E. Mcleod, M. Bruton-Adams, and H. Wittmer. 2017. Climate change impacts on small island states: Ecosystem services risks and opportunities. Ecosystem Service Risk Atlas. Springer. In Press.

Mcleod, E., B. Szuster, J. Hinkel, E.L. Tompkins, N. Marshall, T. Downing, S. Wongbusarakum, A. Patwardhan, M. Hamza, C. Anderson, S. Bharwani, L. Hansen, and P. Rubinoff. 2015. Conservation organizations need to consider adaptive capacity: why local input matters. Conservation Letters. DOI: 10.1111/conl.12210.

Maynard, J.A., S. McKagan, L. Raymundo, S. Johnson, G. Ahmadia, L. Johnston, P. Houk, G. Williams, M. Kendall, S. F. Heron, R. van Hooidonk, E. Mcleod, K. Anthony, S. Planes. 2015. Assessing relative resilience potential of coral reefs to inform management. Biological Conservation 192: 109-111.

Mcleod, E., S. Margles, S. Wongbusarakum, M. Gombos, A. Dazé, A. Otzelberger, A. Hammill, V. Agostini, D.U. Cot, and M. Wiggins. 2015. Community-based climate vulnerability and adaptation tools: A review of tools and their applications. Coastal Management 43: 439–458.

Mcleod, E., B. Szuster, E.L. Tompkins, N. Marshall, T. Downing, S. Wongbusarakum, A. Patwardhan, M. Hamza, C. Anderson, S. Bharwani, L. Hansen, P. Rubinoff. 2015. Using expert knowledge to develop a vulnerability and adaptation framework and methodology for application in tropical island communities. Coastal Management 43: 365–382.

Mcleod, E. and M. Palmer. 2015. Why Conservation Needs Religion. Coastal Management 43: 238–252.

Kleypas J.A., F.S. Castruccio, E.N. Curchitser, E. Mcleod. 2015. The impact of ENSO on coral heat stress in the western equatorial Pacific. Global Change Biology 21(7): 2525–2539.

Anthony, K.R.N., P.A. Marshall, A. Abdulla, R. Beeden, C. Bergh, R. Black, C.M. Eakin, E.T Game, M. Gooch, N.A.J. Graham, A. Green, S.F. Heron, R. van Hooidonk, C. Knowland, S. Mangubhai, N. Marshall, J.A. Maynard, P. McGinnity, E. McLeod, P.J. Mumby, M. Nyström, D. Obura, J. Oliver, H.P. Possingham, R.L. Pressey, G.P. Rowlands, J. Tamelander, D. Wachenfeld, and S. Wear. 2014. Operationalising resilience for adaptive coral reef management under global environmental change. Global Change Biology 21(1): 48–61.

Green, A.L., L. FernandesG. AlmanyR. Abesamis, E. Mcleod, P.M AliñoA.T WhiteR. SalmJ. TanzerR.L PresseyDesigning Marine Reserves for Fisheries Management, Biodiversity Conservation, and Climate Change Adaptation. Coastal Management 01/2014; 42: 143-159:143-159877763.

Mcleod, E., K.R.N. Anthony, A. Andersson, R. Beeden, Y. Golbuu, J. Kleypas, K. Kroeker, D. Manzello, R. Salm, H. Schuttenberg, and J.E. Smith. 2013. Preparing to manage coral reefs for ocean acidification: Lessons from coral bleaching. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 11: 20-27.

Mcleod, E., A. Green, E. Game, K. Anthony, J. Cinner, S.F. Heron, J. Kleypas, C.E. Lovelock, J.M. Pandolfi, R.L. Pressey, R. Salm, S. Schill, and C. Woodroffe. 2012. Integrating climate and ocean change vulnerability into conservation planning. Coastal Management 40: 651-672.

Rau, G.H., E. Mcleod, and O. Hoegh-Guldberg. 2012. Ocean Conservation in a High CO2 World: The Need to Evaluate New Approaches. Nature Climate Change 2: 720-724.

Friedrich, T., A. Timmermann, A. Abe-Ouchi, N.R. Bates, M.O. Chikamoto, M.J. Church, J.E. Dore, D.K. Gledhill, M. Gonzales-Davila, M. Heinemann, T. Ilyina, J.H. Jungclaus, E. Mcleod, A. Mouchet, and J.M. Santana-Casiano. 2012: Detecting regional anthropogenic trends in ocean acidification against natural variability. Nature Climate Change, 2, 167-171.

McClanahan, T.R., S.D. Donner, J.A. Maynard, M.A. MacNeil, N.A.J. Graham, J. Maina, A.C. Baker, J.B. Alemu, M. Beger, S.J. Campbell, E.S. Darling, C.M. Eakin, S.F. Heron, S.D. Jupiter, C.J. Lundquist, E. Mcleod, P. Mumby, M.J. Paddack, E.R. Selig, and R. van Woesik. 2012. Prioritizing Key Resilience Indicators to Support Coral Reef Management in a Changing Climate. PLoS ONE 7(8): e42884. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0042884.

Grantham, H.S., E. McLeod, A. Brooks, J. Hardcastle, A.J. Richardson, E. Poloczanska, T. Hills, T., S.D. Jupiter, N. Mieszkowska, C.J. Klein, and J.E.M. Watson. 2011. Ecosystem-based adaptation in marine ecosystems of tropical Oceania in response to climate change. Pacific Conservation Biology 17: 241-258.

Mcleod, E., G. Chmura, S. Bouillon, R. Salm, M. Bjork, C.M. Duarte, C.E. Lovelock, W.H. Schlesinger, and B. Silliman. 2011. A blueprint for blue carbon – toward an improved understanding of the role of vegetated coastal habitats in sequestering CO2. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 9: 552–560.

Mcleod, E., R. Moffitt, A. Timmermann, R. Salm, L. Menviel, M. Palmer, and E. Selig. 2010. Vulnerability of coral reefs to warming seas and human activities in the Coral Triangle:  Implications for marine protected area network design and management. Coastal Management 38(5): 518-539.

Mcleod, E. B. Poulter, J. Hinkel, E. Reyes, and R. Salm. 2010. Sea-level rise impact models and environmental conservation: A review of models and their applications. Ocean and Coastal Management 53(9): 507–517.

Mcleod, E., J. Hinkel, A.T. Vafeidis, R.J. Nicholls, N. Harvey, and R. Salm. 2010. Sea-level rise vulnerability in the countries of the Coral Triangle. Sustainability Science 5(2): 207-222.

McLeod, E., B. Szuster, and R. Salm. 2009. Sasi and Marine Conservation in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Coastal Management 37(6): 656-676.

Mcleod, E., R. Salm, A. Green, and J. Almany. 2009. Designing marine protected area networks to address the impacts of climate change. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7(7): 362-370.

Keller, B., D. Gleason, E. Mcleod, C. Woodley, S. Airame, B. Causey, A. Friedlander, R. Grober-Dunsmore, J. Johnson, S. Miller, and R. Steneck. 2009. Climate Change, Coral Reef Ecosystems, and Management Options for Marine Protected Areas. Environmental Management 44(6): 1069–1088.

Mcleod, E. 2005. Helping marine protected area managers cope with coral bleaching: Reef resilience toolkit. Live reef fish information bulletin 13, 46-47.

Books and Book Chapters

Maynard, J.A., Marshall, P.A., Parker, B., Mcleod, E., Ahmadia, G., van Hooidonk, R., Planes, S., Williams, G.J., Raymundo, L., Beeden, R., Tamelander, J. (2017). A Guide to Assessing Coral Reef Resilience for Decision Support. Nairobi, Kenya: UN Environment. ISBN No: 978-92-807-3650-2

Mcleod, E. 2013. Marine Protected Areas: Static Boundaries in a Changing World. In: Levin, S.A. (ed.). Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, second edition, Volume 5, pp. 94-104. Waltham, MA: Academic Press.

McLeod, E., and K.R.N. Anthony. 2012. Ocean acidification—Management. In: Fogel, D., Fredericks, S., and Spellerberg, I. (eds.). The Encyclopedia of Sustainability: Vol. 6. Measurements, Indicators, and Research Methods for Sustainability. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing.

Mcleod, E. 2012. Developing a vulnerability and adaptation assessment framework for application in tropical island communities. Dissertation. University of Hawaii at Manoa. 300 pages.

Björk, M., F. Short, E. Mcleod, and S. Beer. 2008. Managing seagrasses for resilience to climate change. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 56pp.

Salm, R.V., and E. Mcleod. 2007. Komodo National Park, Indonesia. In: Colette, A (ed.). Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage. UNESCO World Heritage Centre, pp. 38-39.

Mcleod, E. and R. Salm. 2006. Managing Mangroves for Resilience to Climate Change. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland: 64 pp.

Salm, R., T. Done, and E. Mcleod. 2006. Marine Protected Area Planning in a Changing Climate. Pp. 207-221 in J.T. Phinney, O. Hoegh-Guldberg, J. Kleypas, W. Skirving, and A. Strong (eds). Coral Reefs and Climate Change: Science and Management. Coastal and Estuarine Studies  61. American Geophysical Union. 244 pp.

Technical Reports

Zepeda-Centeno C., Mariño-Tapia I., McLeod E., Rodríguez-Martínez R., Alvarez-Filip L., Banaszak A. T., Escudero-Castillo M., Silva-Casarín R., and Mendoza-Baldwin, E.  2018. Guidance Document for Reef Management and Restoration to Improve Coastal Protection: Recommendations for Global Applications based on lessons learned in Mexico.  The Nature Conservancy, Mexico. 77 p.

Maynard, J., S. McKagan, L. Raymundo, S. Johnson, G. Ahmadia, L. Johnston, P. Houk, G. Williams, M. Kendall, S. Heron, R. van Hooidonk, and E. McLeod. 2015. Assessing relative resilience potential of coral reefs to inform management in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Silver Spring, MD: NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program. NOAA Technical Memorandum CRCP 22. 153pp.

McLeod, E., R.V. Salm, K. Anthony, B. Causey, E. Conklin, R. Feely, J. Guinotte, G. Hofmann, J. Hoffman, P. Jokiel, J. Kleypas, P. Marshall, and C. Veron. 2008. The Honolulu Declaration on Ocean Acidification and Reef ManagementThe Nature Conservancy, U.S.A., and IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. 

Salm, R.V., and E. Mcleod. 2008. Climate Change Impacts on Ecosystem Resilience and MPA Management in Melanesia. In Climate Change and Biodiversity in Melanesia. Leisz, S.J., and B. Burnett (eds.).  CCBM Paper 7. Bishop Museum Technical Report 42(7).

Keller, B.D., S. Airamé, B. Causey, A. Friedlander, D.F. Gleason, R. Grober- Dunsmore, J. Johnson, E. McLeod, S.L. Miller, R.S. Steneck, and C. Woodley, 2008: Marine Protected Areas. In: Preliminary review of adaptation options for climate sensitive ecosystems and resources. A Report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research [Julius, S.H., J.M. West (eds.), J.S. Baron, B. Griffith, L.A. Joyce, P. Kareiva, B.D. Keller, M.A. Palmer, C.H. Peterson, and J.M. Scott (Authors)]. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 8-1 to 8-95.

Salm, R.V. and E. McLeod. 2007. Building resilience into coral reef management. Pp. 205-221 in Keller, B.D. and F.C. Wilmot (eds). 2007. Connectivity: science, people and policy in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Colloquium proceedings, 19-21 August 2004, Key West, FL. Marine Sanctuaries Conservation Series NMSP-07-xx. U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Sanctuary Program, Silver Spring, MD. 272 pp.