Carlos Garcia-Quijano

  • Professor, Joint appointment
  • Department of Sociology and Anthropology; Marine Affairs
  • Phone: 401.874.4297
  • Email:


Carlos García-Quijano holds a Ph.D. in ecological and environmental anthropology from the University of Georgia, along with a Master of Science degree in geology and reef palaeoecology and a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Puerto Rico. In his research and teaching, Garcia-Quijano strives to understand the dynamic and evolving relationship between people and their ecosystems. He has a special interest in how human cognition, culture, and society influence the interaction between people and the non-human environment, as well as who bears the impacts and the responsibility for environmental problems.

Garcia-Quijano’s applied goal is to help prevent environmental degradation and its differential impacts on the less powerful sectors of society. Towards these purposes he uses the tools of anthropology together with those of disciplines such as ecology, cognitive science, and ecological economics.


Garcia-Quijano’s principal line of research has focused on understanding the relationship between local/traditional ecological knowledge (LEK/TEK), coastal resource use and human well-being in the Caribbean, especially Puerto Rico. He has investigated how small-scale coastal resource users, such as fishers and land crab hunters, use their knowledge of social-ecological systems to succeed in their enterprises. Specifically, what constitutes success for Puerto Rican small-scale fishers and the relationship between their knowledge of local ecosystems and their success in fishing. Garcia-Quijano’s work on this topic was recognized with the American Anthropological Association’s Anthropology and Environment Junior Scholar Award in 2009.

Another closely related research interest of Garcia-Quijano’s is the development of conceptual frameworks to account for the goods and services provided by small-scale resource users’ local ecological knowledge to greater society, and the contribution of social/cultural diversity to sustainability. Much of his research activities at URI have been devoted to a multi-year, UPR Sea Grant-NOAA funded study, in collaboration with John J. Poggie, Ana Pitchon, and Miguel del Pozo, that has found that coastal Southeastern Puerto Ricans’ well-being is closely tied to their ability to access and use a broad array of marine and estuarine resources. He has recently studied the effect that coastal resource use has on the well-being, quality of life, and resilience of coastal communities in Southeastern Puerto Rico, developing innovative, qualitative-quantitative methods to define and measure complex sociocultural phenomena such as success, quality of life, and well-being. He has collaborated with other social scientists working on similar topics outside of coastal and ecological research by participating in discipline-wide conference panels about measuring well-being and in published research (in collaboration with Hilda Llorens) about success and well-being of New England Latina youth.

Locally in Rhode Island, Garcia-Quijano has engaged in research about the content, intracultural distribution and management applicability of Rhode Island lobster and whelk fishermen’s local ecological knowledge. His other current line of research is the study of the relationship between human societies and species translocations in coastal areas. He has completed research about the human ecology of the green iguana range expansion in the Caribbean and is currently beginning a research project, in collaboration with scientists from URI and Massachusetts Marine Fisheries about the evolving relationships between people and great white sharks on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Garica-Quijano’s research in the next 5-10 years will focus on engaging in comparative study of cultural aspects of coastal use and dependence to reach more comprehensive understanding of human well-being and adaptations as they relate the use of coastal environments and resources, including local knowledge, resource management, and adaptations to species translocations.


Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of Georgia, 2006. (Dissertation title: “Resisting Extinction: The Value of Local Ecological Knowledge for Small-Scale Fishers in Southeastern Puerto Rico.” Graduate Committee: O. Brent Berlin, Benjamin G. Blount, Theodore L. Gragson.
M.A. in Geology (Reef Palaeoecology), University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, M.S., 2000.
B.S. in Biology, University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, 1996.

Selected Publications

2016. “En el Monte También Se Pesca: ‘Pesca de Monte’, ambiente, subsistencia y comunidad en los bosques costeros del sureste de Puerto Rico” (“Pesca de Monte”: Environment, subsistence, and community in the Coastal Forests of Southeastern Puerto Rico). Caribbean Studies 44 (1):1. Carlos G. García-Quijano, John J. Poggie, and Miguel del Pozo.

2016. “Conceptualizing and Operationalizing Human Wellbeing for Ecosystem Assessment and Management.” Environmental Science & Policy. Sara Jo Breslow, Brit Sojka, Raz Barnea, Xavier Basurto, Courtney Carothers, Susan Charnley, Sarah Coulthard, Nives Dolsak, Jamie Donatuto, Carlos Garcia-Quijano, Christina C. Hicks, Arielle Levine, Michael B. Mascia, Karma Norman, Melissa Poe, Terre Satterfield, Kevin St. Martin, and Phillip S. Levin. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2016.06.023

2016. “Engage key social concepts for sustainability: Social indicators, both mature and emerging, are underused.” Science 352 (6281): 38-40. Christina C. Hicks, Arielle Levine, Arun Agrawa, Xavier Basurto, Sara Breslow, Courtney Carothers, Susan Charnley, Sarah Coulthard, Nives Dolsak, Jamie Donatuto, Carlos Garcia-Quijano, Michael B. Mascia, Karma Norman, Melissa Poe, Terre Satterfield, Kevin St. Martin, and Phillip S. Levin.

2015. “Coastal Resource Foraging, Life Satisfaction, and Well-Being in Southeastern Puerto Rico.” Journal of Anthropological Research 71(2): 145-167. García-Quijano, Carlos G., John J. Poggie, Ana H. Pitchon, and Miguel Del Pozo.

2015. “Ecosystem-Based Knowledge and Reasoning in Tropical, Multi-Species, Small-Scale Fishers’ LEK: What Can Fishers’ LEK Contribute To Coastal Ecological Science And Management?” Fisher’s Knowledge and the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries: Applications, experiences and lessons in Latin America. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper 591. J. Fischer, J. Jorgensen, H. Josupeit, D. Kalikoski, and C. Lucas, Eds. p. 19-40.

2013. “A Fresh Defense: A Cultural Biography of Quality in Puerto Rican Fishing.” American Anthropologist 115(1):17-28. Griffith, David C., García-Quijano, Carlos G., and Manuel Valdés-Pizzini.

2012. “Connecting Humans and Ecosystems in Tropical Fisheries: Social Sciences and Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.” Caribbean Studies 40(2):95-128. Valdés-Pizzini, Manuel, Carlos García-Quijano, and Michelle Schärer.

2011. “Human Ecology of an ‘Invasion’: Interactions Between Humans and Introduced Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana) in a Puerto Rican Estuary.” Human Organization 70 (2):164-168. García-Quijano, Carlos G., Tomás A. Carlo-Joglar, and Javier Arce-Nazario.

2009. “Managing Complexity: Ecological Knowledge and Success in Puerto Rican Small-Scale Fisheries.” Human Organization 68(1): 1-17. García-Quijano, Carlos G. (Winner of 2009 Junior Scholar Award, Anthropology and Environment Section, American Anthropological Association.)

2007. “Fishers’ Knowledge of Marine Species Assemblages: Bridging Between Local and Scientific Knowledge in Southeastern Puerto Rico.” American Anthropologist 109:3, 529-536. García-Quijano, Carlos G.