Department of Anthropology San Diego State University

Matthew Lauer

Environmental and Ecological Anthropology

Director/undergraduate adviser,
Sustainability Program

Office: AL-417
Tel: 619-594-0978

Links: Research, Courses

Lauer in Moorea with local fishermen

I research, write, and teach about population, environmental change, indigenous rights, and conservation issues in Latin American and Oceania. My recent research has involved the micro-ecology of coastal and marine resource use; the human dimensions of marine protected areas; participatory remote sensing, GIS, and mapping; resilience and vulnerability of coastal communities to climate change and natural disasters; and community-based resource management and development. In addition to my position in the Department of Anthropology, I am the Director and undergraduate adviser of the Sustainability Program. I am also affiliated with the Center for Latin American Studies, and I run the Environmental Anthropology Lab (EAAL) here at SDSU.

I have two active research projects, one in French Polynesia, and another in the Solomon Islands.

Publications: Google Scholar

Recent publications:

Rassweiler, A., Lauer, M., Lester, S. E., Holbrook, S. J., Schmitt, R. J., Moussa, R. M., Munsterman, K. S., Lenihan, H. S., Brooks, A. J., Wencèlius, J. & Claudet, J. (2019) "Perceptions and responses of Pacific Island fishers to changing coral reefs." Ambio Online first

Lauer, M., (2017). "Changing understandings of local knowledge in island environments." Environmental Conservation Online First

Lauer, M., and J. Matera. (2016). "Who detects ecological change after catastrophic events? Indigenous knowledge, social networks, and situated practices." Human Ecology 44:33-46 (download).

Lauer, M. (2014). "Calamity, kastom, and modernity: Local interpretations of vulnerability in the western Pacific." Environmental Hazards 13(4)281-297 (download).


See my recent participation in a panel discussion at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The discussion was part of the museum's 2013 Milstein Science Symposium entitled "Understanding Ecological and Social Resilience in Island Systems: Informing Policy and Sharing Lessons for Management."

MA Students:
Mark Strother, 2017 MA Thesis. Title: The ecological and political dimensions of local knowledge among small-scale fishers in Moorea, French Polynesia
Chelsea Hunter, 2017 MA Thesis. Title: Waves of change: Politics, ontologies, and the struggle for acceptable marine managemetn in Moorea, French Polynesia
Savanna Schuermann, 2013 MA thesis. Title: The wantok system, scale and vulnerability: Shaping disaster recovery in an immigrant community of the Western Solomon Islands.
Barbara Quimby, 2012 MA thesis. Title: Artisanal fishing practices in Aceh, Indonesia: The embedded commons.
Douglas La Rose, 2011 MA thesis. Title: Buem agricultural strategies and crop choices as adaptability practices social responses to environmental change in a rural Ghanaian farming community