Our People

Nicholas Wolff

Climate Change Scientist


Headshot of Nick Wolff.

Nicholas Wolff Nicholas Wolff, climate change scientist © Nicholas Wolff


Climate Change Impacts, Coral Reef Resilience, Oceanography, Marine Ecology, Spatial Analysis


Matt Miller
ph. +1 208-350-2203


Nick Wolff is the climate change scientist for the Conservancy’s Global Science program. He is responsible for ensuring that climate change implications are incorporated into TNC’s decision making and strategy development. To offer informed advice, Nick engages in cutting-edge research on climate change impacts on a variety of ecosystems, including savannahs, rain forests and coral reefs, using the latest climate models and data. Central to Nick’s role is the ongoing search for practical, affordable conservation solutions to the climate adaptation and mitigation challenges facing nature and people.

Nick has conducted research world-wide, including the feeding behavior of whales in the Gulf of Maine, fishing impacts in the Virgin Islands and coral reef conservation in the Maldives and Indonesia. Ongoing research, on the Great Barrier Reef, quantifies the potential benefits of local management in the context of climate change. In a recent paper with global scope, Nick demonstrates just how unfair climate change will be, showing that developing nations least responsible for emissions will suffer disproportionate climate change impacts in the near future. To remedy this looming injustice, Nick suggests incorporating inequity metrics into the vulnerability assessments used to prioritize the distribution of international climate adaptation funds.

Before joining TNC, Nick worked for the Census of Marine Life program, responsible for spatial modeling, data analysis, and the visualization, management and dissemination of data. He served as the technical liaison on several regional committees, and was instrumental in providing public access to large federal and state data holdings through the Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Through programs funded by the United Nations and World Bank, Nick has worked with governments in the Bahamas, Maldives and Indonesia, training resource managers and scientists in the incorporation of climate change impacts into their conservation plans. Nick continues to provide support and advice to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority about the management implications of local and global threats to the GBR.

Prior to joining TNC, Nick worked for Professor Peter Mumby at the University of Queensland, and holds an adjunct research position there. Nick has 30 publications on topics such as climate change vulnerability, climate change inequity, climate change adaptation, coral reef resilience, conservation planning, connectivity, ecosystem services, biodiversity, tropical cyclones and oceanography.

Nick recently joined the Nature Conservancy (TNC) as a Climate Change Scientist. He will be using climate data to support decisions and strategy development across TNC’s conservation programs. His responsibilities include supporting cutting-edge research on climate change impacts and adaptation in search of solutions to the major environmental and social challenges a changing climate poses for nature and people. For example, in a recent paper Nick demonstrated how unfair climate change will be for developing nations, which will be much more severely impacted than is just given their low emissions. He suggests distributing international climate adaptation funds in a way that acknowledges and addresses this inequity.

Nick brings a wealth of experience and skills in spatial and climate modelling, data analysis, and the visualization, management and dissemination of data. His strong analytical skills are complemented by experience with field work, instrumentation management, and in running workshops and trainings in both developed and developing nations. Nick’s original training was in biological oceanography and his PhD was based on integrating large scale data sets with climate projections and ecological models to look at the relative benefits of different local management efforts for the Great Barrier Reef.

Nick has 30 publications on topics such as climate change vulnerability, climate change inequity, climate change adaptation, coral reef resilience, conservation planning, connectivity, ecosystem services, biodiversity, tropical cyclones and oceanography.

Nick is a dual American and Australian citizen and loves exploring and photographing the diverse landscapes in both countries.

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Visit Nick's Google Scholar Profile for a full list of publications.


Lipsett-Moore, G.J., Wolff, N.H. & Game, E.T. (2018). Emissions mitigation opportunities for savanna countries from early dry season fire management. Nature Communications, 9, 2247.

Roelfsema, C., Kovacs, E., Ortiz, J.C., Wolff, N.H., Callaghan, D., Wettle, M., Ronan, M., Hamylton, S.M., Mumby, P.J. & Phinn, S. (2018). Coral reef habitat mapping: A combination of object-based image analysis and ecological modelling. Remote Sensing of Environment, 208, 27–41.

Wolff, N.H., Mumby, P.J., Devlin, M. & Anthony, K.R.N. (2018). Vulnerability of the Great Barrier Reef to climate change and local pressures. Global Change Biology, 24, 1978–1991.

Wolff, N.H., da Silva, E.T., Devlin, M., Anthony, K.R.N., Lewis, S., Tonin, H., Brinkman, R. & Mumby, P.J. (2018). Contribution of individual rivers to Great Barrier Reef nitrogen exposure with implications for management prioritization. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 133, 30–43.


Hock, K., Wolff, N.H., Ortiz, J.C., Condie, S.A., Anthony, K.R.N., Blackwell, P.G. & Mumby, P.J. (2017). Connectivity and systemic resilience of the Great Barrier Reef. PLOS Biology, 15, e2003355.

Wolff, N.H. (2017). Dynamic vulnerability of the Great Barrier Reef: impacts of local versus global stressors.


Hock, K., Wolff, N.H., Beeden, R., Hoey, J., Condie, S.A., Anthony, K.R.N., Possingham, H.P. & Mumby, P.J. (2016). Controlling range expansion in habitat networks by adaptively targeting source populations. Conservation Biology, doi: 10.1111/cobi.12665

Wolff, N.H., Wong, A., Vitolo, R., Stolberg, K., Anthony, K.R.N. & Mumby, P.J. (2016). Temporal clustering of tropical cyclones on the Great Barrier Reef and its ecological importance. Coral Reefs, doi: 10.​1007/​s00338-016-1400-9


Beger, M., McGowan, J., Treml, E.A., Green, A.L., White, A.T., Wolff, N.H., Klein, C.J., Mumby, P.J. & Possingham, H.P. (2015). Integrating regional conservation priorities for multiple objectives into national policy. Nat. Commun., 6, 8208.

Devlin, M.J., Petus, C., da Silva, E., Tracey, D., Wolff, N.H., Waterhouse, J. & Brodie, J. (2015). Water quality and river plume monitoring in the Great Barrier Reef: an overview of methods based on ocean colour satellite data. Remote Sensing, 7, 12909–12941.

Harborne, A.R., Nagelkerken, I., Wolff, N.H., Bozec, Y.-M., Dorenbosch, M., Grol, M.G.G. & Mumby, P.J. (2015). Direct and indirect effects of nursery habitats on coral-reef fish assemblages, grazing pressure and benthic dynamics. Oikos, doi: 10.1111/oik.02602

Rogers, A., Harborne, A.R., Brown, C.J., Bozec, Y.-M., Castro, C., Chollett, I., Hock, K., Knowland, C.A., Marshell, A., Ortiz, J.C., Razak, T., Roff, G., Samper-Villarreal, J., Saunders, M.I., Wolff, N.H. & Mumby, P.J. (2015). Anticipative management for coral reef ecosystem services in the 21st century. Glob. Change Biol., 21, 504–514.

Wolff, N.H., Donner, S.D., Cao, L., Iglesias-Prieto, R., Sale, P.F. & Mumby, P.J. (2015). Global inequities between polluters and the polluted: climate change impacts on coral reefs. Glob. Change Biol., 21, 3982–3994.


Hock, K., Wolff, N.H., Condie, S.A., Anthony, K.R.N. & Mumby, P.J. (2014). Connectivity networks reveal the risks of crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks on the Great Barrier Reef. J Appl. Ecol., 51, 1188–1196.

Mumby, P.J., Chollett, I., Bozec, Y.-M. & Wolff, N.H. (2014). Ecological resilience, robustness and vulnerability: how do these concepts benefit ecosystem management? Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Change Issues, 7, 22–27.

Mumby, P.J., Wolff, N.H., Bozec, Y.-M., Chollett, I. & Halloran, P. (2014). Operationalizing the resilience of coral reefs in an era of climate change. Conservation Letters, 7, 176–187.

Ortiz, J.C., Bozec, Y.-M., Wolff, N.H., Doropoulos, C. & Mumby, P.J. (2014). Global disparity in the ecological benefits of reducing carbon emissions for coral reefs. Nature Clim. Change, 4, 1090–1094.


Jordaan, A., Frisk, M.G., Incze, L.S., Wolff, N.H., Hamlin, L. & Chen, Y. (2012). Multivariate dissemination of species relationships for use in marine spatial planning. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci., 70, 316–329.

Roland Pitcher, C., Lawton, P., Ellis, N., Smith, S.J., Incze, L.S., Wei, C.-L., Greenlaw, M.E., Wolff, N.H., Sameoto, J.A. & Snelgrove, P.V.R. (2012). Exploring the role of environmental variables in shaping patterns of seabed biodiversity composition in regional-scale ecosystems. Journal of Applied Ecology, 49, 670–679.


Li, W.K.W., Andersen, R.A., Gifford, D.J., Incze, L.S., Martin, J.L., Pilskaln, C.H., Rooney-Varga, J.N., Sieracki, M.E., Wilson, W.H. & Wolff, N.H. (2011). Planktonic microbes in the Gulf of Maine area. PLoS ONE, 6, e20981.


Fautin, D., Dalton, P., Incze, L.S., Leong, J.-A.C., Pautzke, C., Rosenberg, A., Sandifer, P., Sedberry, G., Tunnell, J.W., Jr, Abbott, I., Brainard, R.E., Brodeur, M., Eldredge, L.G., Feldman, M., Moretzsohn, F., Vroom, P.S., Wainstein, M. & Wolff, N. (2010). An overview of marine biodiversity in United States waters. PLoS ONE, 5, e11914.

Incze, L.S., Lawton, P., Ellis, S.L. & Wolff, N.H. (2010). Biodiversity knowledge and its application in the Gulf of Maine area. In: Life in the world’s oceans (ed. McIntyre, A.D.). Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 49–64.

Incze, L., Xue, H., Wolff, N., Xu, D., Wilson, C., Steneck, R., Wahle, R., Lawton, P., Pettigrew, N. & Chen, Y. (2010). Connectivity of lobster (Homarus americanus) populations in the coastal Gulf of Maine: part II. Coupled biophysical dynamics. Fisheries Oceanography, 19, 1–20.


Stevick, P.T., Incze, L.S., Kraus, S.D., Rosen, S., Wolff, N. & Baukus, A. (2008). Trophic relationships and oceanography on and around a small offshore bank. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 363, 15–28.

Xue, H., Incze, L., Xu, D., Wolff, N. & Pettigrew, N. (2008). Connectivity of lobster populations in the coastal Gulf of Maine: part I: circulation and larval transport potential. Ecological Modelling, 210, 193–211.


Annis, E.R., Incze, L.S., Wolff, N. & Steneck, R.S. (2007). Estimates of in situ larval development time for the lobster, Homarus Americanus. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 27, 454–462.


Incze, L.S., Wahle, R.A., Wolff, N., Wilson, C., Steneck, R., Annis, E., Lawton, P., Xue, H. & Chen, Y. (2006). Early life history and a modeling framework for lobster (Homarus Americanus) populations in the Gulf of Maine. Journal of Crustacean Biology, 26, 555–564.


Incze, L.S., Wolff, N. & Wahle, R.A. (2003). Can scientific observations of early life stages be scaled up to the level of a fished population? A case study using Homarus americanus. Fisheries Research, Life Histories, Assessment and Management of Crustacean Fisheries, 65, 33–46.


Incze, L.S., Hebert, D., Wolff, N., Oakey, N. & Dye, D. (2001). Changes in copepod distributions associated with increased turbulence from wind stress. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 213, 229–240.


Wolff, N., Grober-Dunsmore, R., Rogers, C.S. & Beets, J. (1999). Management implications of fish trap effectiveness in adjacent coral reef and gorgonian habitats. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 55, 81–90.