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Arnas Palaima, PhD

Arnas Palaima, PhD

Marie Curie Fellow in Economics

Currently my key research interest is ecological economics and ecosystem-based management (EBM) of coastal/marine social-ecological systems. More specifically I seek to quantify mathematical relationships among key economic and ecosystem structural/functional variables in the Baltic social-ecological system. Results of my research are expected to contribute to the building of foundation for mainstreaming natural capital into decisions for numerous coastal/marine social-ecological systems in Europe and worldwide by providing evidence based, quantitative basis to make informative decisions in optimizing economic development and sustainability goals.



  • 2008 – 2018: Director/Senior Research Scientist, Ecological Economics Innovations Center, Berkeley, California, USA.
  • 2010 – 2012: Editor/Author of the peer-reviewed book " Ecology, conservation and restoration of tidal marshes: the San Francisco Estuary", University of California Press, Berkeley, California, USA.
  • 2007 – 2008: Site Profile Coordinator, NERR-NOAA/Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, USA.
  • 2006 – 2007: Advisor for Scientific Program and Innovations, CDD Inc., San Francisco, California, USA.
  • 2002 – 2005: Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology, Department of Biology, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, USA.
  • 1996 – 2002: Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of Biology, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA.
  • 1995 – 1996: Fulbright Scholar, Department of Biology, University of Miami, Miami, Florida, USA.


  • 2002 Ph.D. in Biology- University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, USA.
  • 1995 Diplomas in Biology/Ecology - Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania.

Awards and scholarships

  • 2018 – 2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship in Economic Sciences, European Union, Brussels.
  • 2000 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, USA.
  • 1995 – 1996 Fulbright Scholarship, Institute of International Education, USIA, New York, USA.


From a policy and resource management perspective, decision-makers are often forced to make decisions that are based on trade-offs among sectors and goals. The reality is that such decisions cannot simultaneously maximize returns for all sectors of society at once. Managers often lack the knowledge about the intrinsic nature of trade-offs they face leading to intuitive assessments of the existence and magnitude of trade-offs. Such intuitive assessments often can be wrong and lead to decisions that result in poor outcomes for society and/or the managed ecosystem. In addition, in a highly charged political environment where various stakeholders participate, or seek to influence the decision-making, absence of objective, quantitative estimates of existing relationships between human economic activities (e.g., pollution), ecosystem structural variables (e.g., coastal habitat size or coastal water quality) and ecosystem functional variables/ecosystem services (e.g., wave attenuation or fishing production) provide additional difficulties in achieving optimal and balanced management actions.

In applying ecosystem-based management EBM approach to current coastal/marine social-ecological systems, it is essential that the key assumptions used in EBM models and economic & social analysis (ESA) are data-verified and evidence-based. If not, then as it was observed multiply times, the developed models and analyses can mislead and cause more harm than benefits if applied in real world. Due to the lack of data that is difficult to obtain, in EBM modelling and practical application it is frequently assumed the linearity among its key economic (e.g., level of pollution) and ecological variables (e.g., fish stocks). If incorrect, such assumptions can lead to a significant overestimation or underestimation (particularly at their endpoints) of the human impact on coastal/marine ecosystems. This results in an "all or none" conservation scenario as the only decision choice and ignores the possibility that the competing demands on coastal/marine ecosystems don't necessarily results in either conservation or habitat destruction, an important implication for conservation, especially as it relates to EBM.

Validation of such mathematical relationships/trade-offs is instrumental in further advancing EBM approach and its practical implication around the world as well as natural resource management in general. Recent significant advances in spatial, GIS-based model development has opened new opportunities for a vigorous testing of assumptions used in EBM approach. My current research focuses on mercury (Hg), lead (Pb) and Cadmium (Cd), three heavy metals that are of primary concern in European marine environments because of their toxicity, ability to bio-accumulate and bio-concentrate in marine organisms/humans, and its wide presence in industrial wastewater which is discharged into coastal waters. In my research I utilize a modeling approach combined with validation of model data with previously published field data. Currently I work with three models: Natural Capital Project CWQ, CAESAR Bioconcentration and KABAM Bioaccumulation.



  • Palaima A. (editor). 2012. Ecology, conservation and restoration of tidal marshes: the San Francisco Estuary. Book (ISBN: 9780520274297), 312 p., University of California Press, Berkeley, California.
  • Palaima A. 2010. Populations evolutionary adaptation to temperature: a study of Daphnia (Crustacea: Cladocera). Book (ISBN: 978-3838331935), 104 p., Lambert Academic Publishing, Koln, Germany.

Selected peer-reviewed publications

  • Palaima A. and Mierauskas P. 2013. Mainstreaming natural capital into decisions: integrated valuation of ecosystem services. Social Technologies 3: 149-158.
  • Mierauskas P. and Palaima A. 2012. Ecological network in Lithuania: its development and implementation within the nature frame framework. Sustainable Development Strategy And Practice: Research Papers 7: 58-77.
  • Palaima A. 2012. Book chapter "Ecosystem services". In Ecology, conservation and restoration of tidal marshes: the San Francisco Estuary. (editor A. Palaima), pp. 207-214, University of California Press. Berkeley, California.
  • Palaima A. 2007. The fitness cost of generalization: present limitations and future possible solutions. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 90: 583-590.
  • Palaima A. and Spitze K. 2004. Is a jack-of-all-temperatures a master of none? An experimental test with Daphnia pulicaria (Crustacea: Cladocera). Evolutionary Ecology Research 6: 215-225.


  • 2002 – 2005: As a Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology at University of Mississippi Dr.Palaima gave more than 800 lectures to more than 3,000 students in General Biology, Human Biology and Environmental Sciences.
  • 1996 – 2002: As a Graduate Teaching Assistant at University of Miami Dr. Palaima taught more than 700 laboratories and research seminars in General Biology, Genetics and Environmental Sciences.