Mark Hixon

Academic Degrees

BA 1973, MA 1974, PhD 1979 University of California at Santa Barbara

Awards & Honors

In 2004, Mark was honored by ISI Citation Index as the most cited scientific author in the Northern and Western Hemispheres regarding coral reef ecology during the past decade. A Fulbright Senior Scholar and Aldo Leopold Leadership Program Fellow, Mark was honored in 2016 as a Fellow of the International Coral Reef Society, and in 2023 received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Western Society of Naturalists (the oldest biological society in the western USA).


Mark has served on the editorial boards of 5 scientific journals — Coastal ManagementCoral Reefs, Ecology, Ecological Monographs, and PeerJ — as well as an ad hoc editor for the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  He was an executive appointee of both the Clinton and Bush administrations to the Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee, which he chaired for 3 years.  He has also served on the National Science Foundation Geosciences Advisory Committee as chair of the ocean science subcommittee, and presently serves on the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument advisory council.  In 2016, Mark co-organized a joint exhibit by artists and scientists “Art-Sci: Where Art and Science Meet,” now on permanent display in the Pacific Ocean Science and Technology building at UH Mānoa. Regularly involved in scientific outreach, Mark has on-line TEDx talks and has appeared on the PBS TV show Saving the Ocean.

Research History

Having studied kelp forest ecology in California as a graduate student, Mark originally began his research on the ecology of coral reefs as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Hawai`i from 1979 to 1981.  After another postdoc at U.C. Irvine (including studies of hummingbird ecology), he was a professor of marine ecology and conservation biology at Oregon State University from 1984 through 2012.  Mark’s research spans the behavioral, population, and community ecology of coastal marine fishes, increasingly in the context of conservation biology, and occasionally fisheries ecology.  More recently, he has focused on helping to conserve and restore the coral reefs themselves. His projects emphasize undersea research, especially involving controlled field experiments.  Mark has published numerous peer-reviewed research papers on field projects in California, Oregon, Hawai`i, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, the Great Barrier Reef, and French Polynesia, including top ranked journals such as Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  His research has helped to clarify mechanisms that naturally regulate populations and sustain biodiversity in the sea, topics of vital importance to managing fisheries and conserving species. 

Research Projects at UH

Mark started his position as the Sidney and Erica Hsiao Endowed Chair in Marine Biology in January 2013.  His first project in that position, collaborating with a group of UH colleagues, focused on tracing the life cycle of reef fishes from spawning to larval dispersal to life on the reef to capture by fisheries to distribution and consumption on land (the Fish Flow Project). His second project, conducted with his graduate students, explored the interactions among physical shelter for fishes and large invertebrates, the local abundance of these animals, and the recruitment, survival, and growth of corals (the Coral Resilience Module Experiment or CReME).  His current project, in collaboration with marine engineers, focuses on constructing permanent coral nurseries off Waikiki Beach that will serve as sites for caching and growing coral colonies until they are transplanted to the broader region to restore the coral reef (the REEFrame Project). These 3D-printed concrete structures will eventually become coral reefs in their own right.

Publications at UH


  • As a policy Dr. Hixon does not tack his name onto his students’ publications.
  • To hear Dr. Hixon’s 2009 audio essay on National Public Radio on the untimely death of a coral reef, please click here (4 min).
  • To download publications from Dr. Hixon’s lab about the lionfish invasion, please click here.  For a profile of that research, please click here.
  • To download Dr. Hixon’s papers published prior to 2013, please click here.

Dr. Hixon’s publications since arriving at UH in 2013:

Albins, M.A., and M.A. Hixon.  2013.  Worst case scenario: potential long-term effects of invasive predatory lionfish (Pterois volitans) on Atlantic and Caribbean coral-reef communities.  Environmental Biology of Fishes 96: 1151-1157.  DOWNLOAD

Carr, M.H., D.P. Malone, M.A. Hixon, S.J. Holbrook, and R.J. Schmitt.  2013.  How SCUBA changed our understanding of nature: underwater breakthroughs in reef fish ecology.  Smithsonian Contributions to the Marine Sciences 39: 157-167.  DOWNLOAD

Côté, I.M., S.J. Green, and M.A. Hixon.  2013.  Predatory fish invaders: insights from Indo-Pacific lionfish in the western Atlantic and Caribbean.  Biological Conservation 164: 50-61.  [“Editor’s Choice” for free downloading]  DOWNLOAD

Christie, M.R., and M.A. Hixon.  2014.  Patterns of reef-fish larval dispersal in Exuma Sound, Bahamas.  Pages 225-227 in G.C. Ray and J. McCormick-Ray. Marine Conservation: Science, Policy, and Management.  Wiley-Blackwell; West Sussex, UK.  DOWNLOAD

Cure, K., J.L. McIlwain, and M.A. Hixon.  2014.  Habitat plasticity in native Pacific lionfish (Pterois volitans) facilitates successful invasion of the Atlantic.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 506: 243-253.  DOWNLOAD

Hixon, M.A.  2014.  How do so many kinds of coral-reef fishes coexist?  Pages 109-110 in G.C. Ray and J. McCormick-Ray.  Marine Conservation: Science, Policy, and Management.  Wiley-Blackwell; West Sussex, UK.  DOWNLOAD

Hixon, M.A., and M.A. Albins.  2014.  Invasion of Bahamian coral reefs by predatory Pacific red lionfish.  Pages 215-218 in G.C. Ray and J. McCormick-Ray. Marine Conservation: Science, Policy, and Management.  Wiley-Blackwell; West Sussex, UK.  DOWNLOAD

Hixon, M.A., D.W. Johnson, and S.M. Sogard.  2014.  BOFFFs:  on the importance of conserving old-growth age structure in fishery populations.  ICES Journal of Marine Science 71: 2171-2185.  [invited contribution to special issue on 100th anniversary of Hjort 2014]  DOWNLOAD  UH News

Pusack, T.J., M.R. Christie, D.W. Johnson, C.D. Stallings, and M.A. Hixon.  2014.  Spatial and temporal patterns of larval dispersal in a coral-reef fish metapopulation: evidence of variable reproductive success.  Molecular Ecology 23: 3396-3408.  DOWNLOAD

Schimel, D., D.R. Strong, and ca.100 co-authors.  2014.  Editors are editors, not oracles.  Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America 95:342-346.  DOWNLOAD

Sikkel, P.C., L.J. Tuttle, K. Cure, A.M. Coile, and M.A. Hixon.  2014.  Low susceptibility of invasive red lionfish (Pterois volitans) to a generalist ectoparasite in both its introduced and native ranges.  PLoS One 9(5): e95854. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095854.  DOWNLOAD

Hixon, M.A.  2015.  Predation: piscivory and the ecology of coral-reef fishes.  Pages 41-52 in C. Mora (ed.) Ecology of Fishes on Coral Reefs.  Cambridge University Press; Cambridge, UK.  DOWNLOAD

Hixon, M.A.  2015.  Reef fishes, seaweeds, and corals: a complex triangle.  Pages 195-215 in C. Birkeland (ed.) Coral Reefs in the Anthropocene.  Springer Science; New York, New York.  DOWNLOAD

Johnson, D.W., M.R. Christie, C.D. Stallings, T.J. Pusack, and M.A. Hixon.  2015.  Using post-settlement demography to estimate larval survivorship: a coral reef fish example.  Oecologia 179:729-739.  DOWNLOAD

Ramos-Ascherl, Z., E.H. Williams, L. Bunkley-Williams, L.J. Tuttle, P.C. Sikkel, and M.A. Hixon.  2015.  Parasitism in Pterois volitans (Scorpaenidae) from coastal waters of Puerto Rico, the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas.  Journal of Parasitology 101:50-56.  DOWNLOAD

Sale, P.F., and M.A. Hixon.  2015.  Addressing the global decline in coral reefs and forthcoming impacts on fishery yields.  Pages 7-15 in S.A. Bortone (ed.) Interrelationships Between Corals and Fisheries.  CRC Press; Boca Raton, Florida.  DOWNLOAD

Wilcox, C.L., and M.A. Hixon.  2015.  False positive tests for ciguatera may derail efforts to control invasive lionfish.  Environmental Biology of Fishes 98:961-969.  DOWNLOAD  UH News

Dahlgren, C.P., K. Buch, E. Rechisky, and M.A. Hixon.  2016.  Multiyear tracking of Nassau Grouper spawning migrations.  Marine and Coastal Fisheries 8:522-535.  DOWNLOAD

Hixon, M.A., S.J. Green, M.A. Albins, J.L. Akins, and J.A. Morris.  2016.  Lionfish: a major marine invasion.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 558:161-165.  DOWNLOAD

Benkwitt, C.E., M.A. Albins, K.L. Buch, K.E. Ingeman, T.L. Kindinger, T.J. Pusack, C.D. Stallings, and M.A. Hixon.  2017.  Is the lionfish invasion waning? Evidence from the Bahamas.  Coral Reefs 36:1255-1261.  DOWNLOAD

Ingeman, K.E., M.A. Albins, C.E. Benkwitt, S.J. Green, T.L. Kindinger, L.J. Tuttle, and M.A. Hixon.  2017.  Resolving differences in observed impacts of invasive lionfish and clarifying advice to managers.  PeerJ Preprints [not peer reviewed] DOWNLOAD

Ripple, W.J., with 15,371 co-authors including M.A. Hixon.  2017.  World scientists’ warning to humanity: a second notice.  BioScience 67:1026-1028.  DOWNLOAD  UH News

Tuttle, L.J., P.C. Sikkel, K. Cure, and M.A. Hixon.  2017.  Parasite-mediated enemy release and low biotic resistance may facilitate invasion of Atlantic coral reefs by Pacific red lionfish (Pterois volitans).  Biological Invasions 19:563-575.  DOWNLOAD

Counsell, C.W.W., M.J. Donohue, K.F. Edwards, E.C. Franklin, and M.A. Hixon.  2018.  Variation in coral-associated cryptofauna communities across spatial scales and environmental gradients.  Coral Reefs37:827-840.  DOWNLOAD

Forsman, Z.H., R.J. Toonen, R.D. Gates, E.C. Franklin, I.S.S. Knapp, K. Rodgers, K. Hughes, P. Maurin, C. Sartor, M. Parry, A. Chung, M.A. Hixon, D.A. Gulko, C.S. Wolke, N.T. Chan, and L. Del Rio Torres.  2018.  The first Hawai‘i workshop for coral restoration and nurseries.  Marine Policy 96:133-135.  DOWNLOAD

Johnson, D.W., M.R. Christie, T.J. Pusack, C.D. Stallings, and M.A. Hixon.  2018.  Integrating parentage analysis with local population demography uncovers cryptic patterns of connectivity in a marine metapopulation.  Ecology 99:1419-1429.  DOWNLOAD  UH News

Wong-Ala, J.A.T.K., C.M. Comfort, J.M. Gove, M.A. Hixon, M.A. McManus, B.S. Powell, J.L. Whitney. and A.B. Neuheimer.  2018.  How life history characteristics and environmental forcing shape settlement success of coral reef fishes.  Frontiers in Marine Science 5(65): doi: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00065.  DOWNLOAD

Chung, A.E., L.M. Wedding, A.L. Green, A.M. Friedlander, G. Goldberg, A. Meadows, and M.A. Hixon.  2019.  Building coral reef resilience through spatial herbivore management in Hawai‘i.  Frontiers in Marine Science 6(98): doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00098.  DOWNLOAD

Green, S.J., E.R. Dilley, C.E. Benkwitt, A.C.D. Davis, K.E. Ingeman, T.L. Kindinger, L.J. Tuttle, and M.A. Hixon.  2019.  Trait-mediated foraging drives patterns of selective predation by native and invasive coral-reef fishes.  Ecosphere 10(6):e02752.  DOWNLOAD

Hixon, M.A., and J.E. Randall.  2019.  Coral reef fishes.  Pages 142-150 in J.K. Cochran, H.J. Bokuniewicz, and P.L. Yager  (eds.)  Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences.  3rd edition, vol. 2.  Elsevier Press; Oxford, United Kingdom.  DOWNLOAD

Jones, R.N., E.G. Brush, E.R. Dilley, and M.A. Hixon.  2021.  Autumn coral bleaching in Hawai‘i.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 675:199-205. DOWNLOAD

Counsell, C.W.W., R.R. Coleman, S.S. Lal, B.W. Bowen, E.C. Franklin, A.B. Neuheimer, B.S. Powell, R.J. Toonen, M.J. Donahue, M.A. Hixon, and M.A. McManus.  2022.  Interdisciplinary analysis of larval dispersal for a coral reef fish: opening the black box.  Marine Ecology Progress Series 684:117–132. DOWNLOAD

Giddens, J., D. R. Kobayashi, G. N. M. Mukai, J. Asher, C. Birkeland, M. Fitchett, M. A. Hixon, M. Hutchinson, B. C. Mundy, J. M. O’Malley, M. Sabater, M. Scott, J. Stahl, R. Toonen, M. Trianni, P. A. Woodworth-Jefcoats, J. L. K. Wren, and M. Nelson. 2022. Assessing the vulnerability of marine life to climate change in the Pacific Islands region. PLoS One 17:(7): e0270930. DOWNLOAD

Hixon, M.A., B.W. Bowen, R R. Coleman, C.W. Counsell, M.J. Donahue, E.C. Franklin, J.N. Kittinger, M.A. McManus, and R.J. Toonen.  2022.  Fish flow: following fisheries from spawning to supper.  Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 20:247–254. DOWNLOAD UH NEWS

Pusack, T.J., C.D. Stallings, M.A. Albins, C.E. Benkwitt, K.E. Ingeman, T.L. Kindinger, and M.A. Hixon. 2023. Protracted recovery of long-spined urchin (Diadema antillarum) in the Bahamas. Coral Reefs 42:93–98. DOWNLOAD

Hixon, M.A., and B.W. Bowen.  2023.  The amazing yet threatened world of marine fishes.  Pages 206-226 in N. Maclean (ed.) The Living Planet: The State of the World’s Wildlife.  Cambridge University Press; Cambridge, UK. DOWNLOAD

Hixon Lab Graduate Students (note that Dr. Hixon is approaching retirement and so is no longer accepting new graduate students):

     Erik Brush, NSF Graduate Research Fellow:  PhD student in Zoology Graduate Program (started Fall 2015)

     Eric Dilley:  MS student in Marine Biology Graduate Program (graduated Spring 2023)

     Daniella Escontrela, NSF Graduate Research Fellow:  PhD student in Marine Biology Graduate Program(started Fall 2019)

     Ryan Jones, NSF Graduate Research Fellow:  PhD student in Zoology Graduate Program (graduated Summer 2023)

Hawaii Five-0 spoof of Hixon Lab by former graduate student Brian Tissot

   Standing on the shoulders of giants:  Kaneohe, HI, December 2017:

          back row:  Mark Hixon, Ryan Jones, Erik Brush, Eric Dilley

          front row:  Jack Randall, Peter Sale

Hixon Lab at Oregon State University (2012):

L to R (with current affiliation):  Dr. Stephanie Green* (University of Alberta), Dr. Kurt Ingeman** (Linfield University), Dr. Tim Pusack (Williams College), Dr. Lillian Tuttle** (University of Hawaii at Hilo), Alex Davis** (University of California at Los Angeles), Dr. Casey Benkwitt** (Lancaster University), Dr. Tye Kindinger** (NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Program, Honolulu).  OSU titles: * Smith Postdoctoral Fellow, ** National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow.  For a profile of this cohort’s lionfish invasion research, please click here.