Dr Tom Brewer

Ph.D (Environmental Sociology)

Research Fellow

Tom's broad career focus is to understand links between society (including demographic, cultural and economic dimensions) and the natural environment. His background is primarily in environmental sociology, statistics, ecology, and natural resource management socioeconomics. Through determining, and making clear for policy, important social and environmental dynamics, he hopes to contribute to the advancement of human wellbeing and the preservation and regeneration of natural resource systems.

Tom is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Northern Research Futures Collaborative Research Network (CRN), based at the Northern Institute (NI), Charles Darwin University (CDU); with strong links to the Arafura Timor Research Facility (ATRF) and Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). He was awarded my PhD in 2013 for my work on the Social determinants of the exploitation and management of coral reef resources in Solomon Island. Tom brings the experience gained in his PhD to the Northern Institute to identify what the Darwin Community most values in and around Darwin harbour and develop models on how the changing social, economic, and cultural landscape of Darwin is impacting Darwin harbour, and how this relationship is likely to change in the future.

Research Interests

  • Environment sociology
  • Common property governance
  • Natural resource management
  • Social-ecological systems and complexity
  • Temporal and spatial scaling
  • Predictive modelling
  • Human and environmental health
  • SE Asia and Melanesia

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Research Projects

Current Projects

Valuing Darwin Harbour: Understanding community values and preferences to improve future planning.  Read the Valuing Darwin Harbour: Participant Feedback report

Climate Change adaptation in Northern Australia: Understanding expected climate impacts and identifying achievable adaptation strategies in a challenging environment.

Recent Projects

Linking social, economic, and cultural change to biophysical change in the Darwin Harbour using qualitative models.
This 3 year research project is funded by the Northern Research Futures program at Charles Darwin University as part of the Collaborative Research Network. The purpose of this project is to identify dominant landscape values around Darwin Harbour and develop, in consultation with stakeholders and experts, a suite of qualitative models that link social and biophysical dynamics within Darwin catchment and harbour, to inform better decision making around environmental assets.

Publications & Resources


Wallace, R., Brewer, T.D. et al. (2016, forthcoming). Rethinking Northern Australia Development. Canberra, e-ANU Press. 

Book Chapters

Brewer, T.D., & Dale, A. (accepted). Tropics of possibility: Towards Northern Australia governance as a cognitively converged complex system? Northern Institute, Charles Darwin University

Brewer, T.D., Harwood, S., Archer, A., Williams, D. Dale, A.P. (2016, forthcoming). A case-based discussion on the disjuncture between local values and federal, state and territory development policy in Northern Australia. In T.D. Brewer (ed.), Northern Australian Futures. Canberra: e-ANU Press.

Dale, A., Crowley, G., Brewer, T.D., Andrews, K., Warren, B., Vella, K., Potts, R. (2016, forthcoming). Governing the Community Based NRM System in Northern Australia: Challenges and Opportunities. In R. Wallace, R., T.D. Brewer, et al. (eds.), Rethinking Northern Australia Development. Canberra: e-ANU Press.

Pratchett, M.S., Munday, P.L., Graham, N.A.J., Kronen, M., Pinica, S., Friedman, K., Brewer, T.D., et al. (2011). Vulnerability of coastal fisheries in the tropical Pacific to climate change. In J.D. Bell, J.E. Johnson & A.J. Hobday (eds.), Vulnerability of Tropical Pacific Fisheries and Aquaculture to Climate Change. Noumea, New Caledonia: Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

Journal Articles

Dale, A., Vella, K., Ryan, S., Broderick, K., Hill, R., Potts, R., Taylor, B., & Brewer, T.D. (2016, forthcoming). Designing National Systems for Governing Community Based Natural Resource Management: An Australian Case Study. Society and Natural Resources.

Moon, K., Brewer, T.D., Januchowski-Hartley, S.R., Adams, V.M., & Blackman, D.A. (2016, forthcoming). A guideline to improve qualitative social science publishing in ecology and conservation journals. Ecology and Society. 

Moon, K., Blackman, D.A., Brewer, T.D., & Sarre, S.D. (under review). Environmental governance for urgent and uncertain problems. Biological Invasions.

Moon, K.A., Blackman, D., & Brewer, T.D. (2015). Understanding and integrating knowledge to improve invasive species management. Biological Invasions, 17(9), 2675–2689. doi: 10.1007/s10530-015-0904-5.

Stephens, A., Opperman, E., Turnour, J., Brewer, T.D., O’Brien, C., Rayner, T., Blackwood, G., & Dale, A. (2015). Identifying Tensions in the Development of Northern Australia: Implications for Governance. Journal of Economic and Social Policy, 17(1), Article 5. 

Brewer, T.D. & Moon, K. (2015). Towards a functional typology of small-scale fisheries co-management informed by stakeholder perceptions: a coral reef case study. Marine Policy, 51, 48-56.

Wamukota, A., Brewer, T.D., & Crona, B. (2014). Market integration and its relation to income distribution and inequality among fishers and traders: The case of two small-scale Kenyan reef fisheries. Marine Policy, 48, 93-101.

Albert, S., Love, M., & Brewer, T.D. (2013). Contrasts in social and ecological assessments of coral reef health in Melanesia.Pacific Science, 67, 409-424.

Brewer, T.D., Cinner, J.E., Green, A., & Pressey, R.L. (2013). Effects of human population density and proximity to markets on coral reef fishes vulnerable to extinction by fishing. Conservation Biology, 27(3), 443-452. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2012.01963.x.

Brewer, T.D. (2013). Dominant discourses, among fishers’ and middlemen, of the factors affecting coral reef fish stocks in Solomon Islands. Marine Policy, 37, 246-253.

Bohensky, E., Smajgl, A., & Brewer, T.D. (2012). Patterns in household engagement with climate change in Indonesia. Nature Climate Change, 3, 348-351. doi:10.1038/nclimate1762.

Brewer, T.D., Cinner, J.E., Fisher, R., Green, A., & Wilson, S. (2012). Market access, population density, and socioeconomic development explain diversity and functional group biomass of coral reef fish assemblages. Global Environmental Change, 22, 399-406. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2012.01.006.

Skinner, M. P., Brewer, T.D., Johnstone, R., Fleming, L.E., & Lewis, R.J. (2011). Ciguatera fish poisoning in the Pacific Islands (1998 to 2008). PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, 5, e1416. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0001416.

Brewer, T.D. (2010). Putting Census Data to work. Science, 329, 901-902. doi: 10.1126/science.329.5994.901-a.

Brewer, T.D., Cinner, J.E., Green, A., & Pandolfi, J. (2009). Thresholds and multiple scale interaction of environment, resource use, and market access on reef fishery resources in the Solomon Islands. Biological Conservation, 142, 1797-1807. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2009.03.021.

Conference Proceedings & Papers

Brewer, T.D., & Douglas, M. (2015). Planning for coastal and estuarine landscape values. Estuarine Coastal Sciences Association. London. 

Brewer, T.D. (2015). Planning for coastal and estuarine landscape values. Australian Marine Science Association. Geelong. 

Brewer, T.D., Archer, A., Dale, A., Williams, D., & Douglas, M. (2014). A case based discussion on the disjuncture between federal development policy and local values in Northern Australia. A Northern Perspective: CRN Northern Australian Development Conference. Darwin. 

Brewer, T.D., Archer, A., Dale, A., Williams, D., & Douglas, M. (2014). Mapping Community Landscape Values and Development Preferences in and around Darwin Harbour. Territory NRM Conference. Darwin. 

Brewer, T.D. (2014). What people value in Darwin Harbour and how these values might be affected by changes occurring in the Darwin area. Australian Institute of Marine Science Seminar Day. Arafura Timor Research Facility, Darwin.

Brewer, T.D., Cinner, J., Green, A., Fisher, R., & Wilson, S. (2012). Globalization explains diversity and function of coral reef fish. International Coral Reef Society, Cairns.

Brewer, T.D., Cinner, J., Green, A., Fisher, R., & Wilson, S. (2011). Social and economic drivers explain diversity and function of coral reef fish. International Conference of Environmental Futures. Newcastle, United Kingdom.

Brewer, T.D., Cinner, J., Green, A., Fisher, R., & Wilson, S. (2011). Social and economic drivers explain diversity and function of coral reef fish. 22nd Pacific Science Congress. Kuala Lumpur.

Brewer, T.D., Cinner, J., Green, A., & Pandolfi, J. (2009). Thresholds and multiple scale interaction of environment, resource use, and distribution on reef fishery resources in the Solomon Islands. Pacific Science Inter-Congress. Papeete, French Polynesia.

Pandolfi, J.M., Brewer, T.D., et al. (2008). Decoupling the linkages between human and coral reef ecosystem health in the Pacific. Ecohealth in Coupled Human-Natural Systems. Anthropogenic Change, Biodiversity Loss and Disease Emergence. (NSF IGERT ECPB). University of Hawaii. 

Research Reports

Brewer, T.D. (in press). Climate-adaptive Northern Development. Policy Guidance Brief written on behalf of National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF).

Brewer, T.D. (2011). Coral reef fish value chains in Solomon Islands: Market opportunities and market effects on fish stocks. ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies report to Solomon Islands Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and Secretariat of the Pacific Community. 

Kool, J., Brewer, T.D., Mills, M., & Pressey, R.L. (2010). Ridges to Reefs Conservation Plan for the Solomon Islands. ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. 

Professional Positions, Memberships & Awards


  • Symposia Co-chair of Estuarine and Coastal Shelf Science Conference, Bremen, Germany.
  • Research group leader (GRP 3: multiple use and users) for the World Harbours Project.

Higher Degree by Research (HDR) Supervision

Associate Supervision

  • Thi Tam Duong (Ph.D. candidate): Perceptions and behaviours towards Biosecurity Risks across Smallholder Farming Communities in Australia.
  • Rebecca Pearce (Ph.D. candidate): Payment for Ecosystem Services in Northern Australia.
Dr Tom Brewer


T: +61 8 8920 9237
E: tom.brewer@cdu.edu.au

Darwin NT