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Nadia Rubio

Nadia Rubio-Cisneros, Ph.D.


Turks and Caicos Islands


Ph.D. in Marine Biology
Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego (CA, USA)

M.Sc. in Conservation Biology
Centro de Investigaciones Biologicas del Noroeste (BCS, Mexico)

B.S. in Marine Biology
Universidad Autonoma de Baja California Sur (BCS, Mexico)


SFS 3020 Environmental Policy and Socioeconomic Values
(The School for Field Studies)

SFS 4910 Directed Research
(The School for Field Studies)

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Nadia Rubio-Cisneros, Ph.D.

Resident Lecturer in Environmental Policy & Socioeconomic Values


Areas of Expertise

  • Coastal ecosystem services
  • Small-scale fisheries
  • Coastal exploitation
  • Fishers’ traditional knowledge
  • Marine biology
  • Marine conservation
  • Historical ecology

Professional Activities

  • Fellow, The Rufford Foundation (2015-present)
  • Communication Committee, Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean (2017-present)
  • Member, Society for Conservation Biology (2016-present)
  • Member, Estuarine Coastal Sciences Association (2012-2015)
  • Member, Society for Marine Mammalogy (2000-2005)
  • Member, The Mexican Society for Marine Mammalogy (1999-2005)

Faculty Profile

Nadia obtained her Ph.D. in Marine Biology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, at the University of California, San Diego.

For the past 16 years, Nadia has been involved in numerous marine ecology research programs in the Gulf of California, the Mexican Caribbean, off the California Coast, and the South Pacific. She has worked on a wide scope of projects related to: the study of coastal ecosystem services, the analysis of social-ecological systems involved in small-scale fisheries of Northwest Mexico and Holbox Island, and has studied diverse aspects of the ecology of whales, sea turtles, and coral reefs.

Nadia’s current research focuses on studying how human societies have exploited coastal seas. During her Ph.D., she studied historical and present coastal exploitation at Marismas Nacionales wetlands in Northwest Mexico using interdisciplinary data (field surveys of traditional fishers’ knowledge, ancient historical documents and current fishery statistics). Her main results show fishers’ in Marismas Nacionales have developed unsustainable fishing practices in the past decades because of resource depletion. This has degraded the ecological and social environment.

Throughout her Postdoctoral years, Nadia expanded her research into the study of coastal exploitation at Holbox Island, in Southeast Mexico. She used an interdisciplinary approach that integrates traditional fishers’ knowledge, together with ecological, historical, spatial, and archaeological data on coastal exploitation. To accomplish this, she collaborated with an interdisciplinary group of scientists (University of California San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Georgia State University, University of New England, New College of Florida, Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Chiapas, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social and CINVESTAV, Merida). Results of her post-doctoral research report fishers’ perspectives on overfishing, and identification of over 80 fishing sites that were populated with top predators, among others. Besides Archaeozoological remains demonstrate sharks and sea turtles were numerous. However, contemporary fishers’ surveys and literature sources show a decay of top predators and growing illegal fishing enhanced by human coastal migration.

Nadia is interested in expanding her research into other coastal areas of the Caribbean and Latin America that suffer from fisheries overexploitation and increasing tourism development. She aims to generate baseline scientific knowledge that aids in the creation of sound resource management strategies that can allow resource stocks to recover, preserve coastal ecosystem services, and promote local cultural values for the improvement of coastal people livelihoods.



Rubio-Cisneros, N. T., Aburto-Oropeza, O., Jackson, J., & Ezcurra, E. 2017. Coastal Exploitation Throughout Marismas Nacionales Wetlands in Northwest Mexico. Tropical Conservation Science, 10, 1940082917697261. doi:10.1177/1940082917697261
Rubio-Cisneros, N. T., Aburto-Oropeza, O., & Ezcurra, E. 2016. Small-Scale Fisheries of Lagoon Estuarine Complexes in Northwest Mexico. Tropical Conservation Science, 9(1), 78-134. doi:10.1177/194008291600900106
Rubio-Cisneros, N. T., Aburto-Oropeza, O., Murray, J., González-Abraham, C. E., Jackson, J., & Ezcurra, E. 2014. Transnational Ecosystem Services: The Potential of Habitat Conservation for Waterfowl Through Recreational Hunting Activities. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 19(1), 1-16. doi:10.1080/10871209.2013.819536
Rubio-Cisneros, N.T. 2014. A historic and multiscale approach to study the ecosystem services of coastal wetlands in Northwest Mexico. Ph.D. Thesis. UCSD. http://wwwlib.umi.com/cr/fullcit?p3646236.
Godard-Codding, C., Clark, R., Fossi, M., Marsili, L., Maltese, S., West, A., Valenzuela, L., Rowntree, V., Polyak, I., Cannon, J., Pinkerton, K., Rubio-Cisneros, N., Mesnick, S., Cox, S., Kerr, I., Payne, R. and Stegeman, J. 2011. Pacific Ocean–Wide Profile of CYP1A1 Expression, Stable Carbon and Nitrogen Isotope Ratios, and Organic Contaminant Burden in Sperm Whale Skin Biopsies. Environmental Health Perspectives. 119(3): 2011- 337.
Rubio-Cisneros, N., Mesnick, S., Vázquez-Juárez, R., Urbán J., Godard, C., Payne, R. and Dizon, A. 2006. Genetic sex determination supports the Gulf of California as an important habitat for sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus). Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals. 5(2): 125-128.
Morin, P., Aitken, N., Rubio-Cisneros, N., Dizon, A. and Mesnick, S.. 2006. Characterization of 18 SNP markers for sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus). Molecular Ecology Notes.
Morin, P.A., Nestler, A., Rubio-Cisneros, N T., Robertson, K., and Mesnick, S.L. 2005. The cetacean ZFX and ZFY genes: interfamilial characterization of a novel region facilitates sex determination. Molecular Ecology, 14, 3275–3286.
Rubio-Cisneros, N. T. 2005. Development of a real-time PCR technique for sex determination in sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), and its application in the study of sperm whale social structure in the Gulf of California (in Spanish and English). M.Sc. Thesis.
Rubio-Cisneros, N. T. 2002. Dynamics of the community structure of Mysticetes in Bahía de La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico (in Spanish). B.S. Thesis

Book Chapters

Rubio-Cisneros, N., Moreno-Báez, M., Saenz-Arroyo, A., Rissolo, D., Glover, J. 2017. Small-scale fisheries at Holbox Island Mexico (online eBook section). Publisher: Too Big To Ignore, Global Partnership for Small-Scale Fisheries Research. Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL, In press.


The 38th Scientific Conference of the Association of Marine Laboratories of the Caribbean (AMLC), Marine Science in a Changing Climate. Long-term coastal exploitation at Holbox Island, Mexico. Rubio-Cisneros, N, Moreno-Báez, M; Sáenz-Arroyo, A; Rissolo, D; Glover, J; Gotz, C, Salas, S, Morales-Ojeda, S, Antele, F, Herrera-Silveira, J. May 22-26, 2017. Merida Yucatan
V Simposio de la Red para el Conocimiento de los Recursos Costeros del Sureste. La explotación costera en Isla Holbox a través del tiempo: una visión integral. Rubio-Cisneros, N, J; Moreno-Báez, M; Sáenz-Arroyo, A; Rissolo, D; Glover, J; Gotz, C, Salas, S, Morales-Ojeda, Antele, F, Herrera-Silveira S. May 15 to 19 of 2017. Universidad de Quintana Roo, Campus Chetumal.
Foro de investigación científica, innovación y desarrollo tecnológico y exposición cultural del
“sistema hidrológico de la cuenca península de Yucatán”, October 2016. Análisis preliminar de la Calidad del Agua de Isla Holbox de Acuerdo a su estado trófico. Rubio-Cisneros N., Herrera J., Morales-Ojeda S., Moreno-Báez, M., Montero, J., Pech, M.
ECSA 56 Coastal systems in transition: From a 'natural' to an 'anthropogenically-modified' state, Bremen Germany. September 2016. Subterranean estuaries of Quintana Roo influencing coastal condition of nearshore waters. J.A. Herrera-Silveira*, S.M. Morales-Ojeda, T.O. Cortes- Balan, J. Ramirez-Ramirez, I. Osorio-Moreno, N. Rubio-Cisneros
The 4th International Marine Conservation Congress, Making Marine Science Matter, August 2016, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada (YYT). An interdisciplinary approach to study long-term coastal exploitation at Holbox Island in the North coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Rubio-Cisneros, N; Herrera-Silveira, J; Moreno-Báez, M; Sáenz-Arroyo, A; Rissolo, D; Glover, J; Morales-Ojeda, S.
Student Conference on Conservation Science New York October 8-11, 2013. History of coastal fisheries in Marismas Nacionales wetland in the Gulf of California. Rubio-Cisneros, N., Aburto-Oropeza, O., Jackson J., and Ezcurra E.