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Recent Scientific Papers


Ecology and Society 

A journal of integrative science for resilience and sustainability
Ecology and Society Current Table of Contents
The twenty most current aticles published.
Are generic and specific adaptation institutions always relevant? An archetype analysis of drought adaptation in Spanish irrigation systems
Villamayor-Tomas, S., Iniesta-Arandia, I., Roggero, M. Research
The conditions that contribute to institutional robustness of community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) regimes are well understood; however, there is much less systematic evidence regarding whether and how CBNRM regimes adapt to changing environments. We address this question by exploring drought adaptation of 37 irrigation associations in northern Spain. For this purpose, we adopt the distinction between “generic” and “specific adaptation institutions” and explore whether and how these institutions combine across different types of irrigation systems. We...
Tracing environmental and livelihood dynamics in a tropical coastal lagoon through the lens of multiple adaptive cycles
Thanh, H. Trung, Tschakert, P., Hipsey, M. R. Research
Understanding the long-term dynamics of social-ecological systems is critical to better inform sustainable management. Since Holling’s adaptive cycle heuristic, published in 2001, substantial progress has been made to explore historical changes in agricultural, pastoral, and forest systems. However, the application of this heuristic in coastal fishery systems has been relatively rare. Using the Tam Giang Lagoon in Vietnam as an example of a rapidly changing environment, we explore the historical behavior of this tropical coastal social-ecological system (SES), associated livelihood...
Clarifying the degree and type of public good collective action problem posed by natural resource management challenges
Niemiec, R. M., McCaffrey, S., Jones, M. S. Synthesis
Increasingly, scholars have sought to understand the role of collective action across property boundaries to address natural resource management challenges. Although the growing focus on collective action for natural resource management has led to many new and potentially useful insights for governance and outreach, we suggest that researchers and practitioners may benefit from taking a step back to think about the degree and type of collective action that is needed for each particular social-ecological context. We use the examples of invasive species management, fire management, and...
Adopting process-relational perspectives to tackle the challenges of social-ecological systems research
Mancilla Garc?a, M., Hertz, T., Schl?ter, M., Preiser, R., Woermann, M. Insight
Despite many recent advances in sustainability science, researchers still struggle to address the key characteristics of social-ecological systems that underlie many of today’s problems. Complex cross-scale dynamics and tightly interrelated social and ecological processes characterize social-ecological systems (SES). These features lead to constant change and novelty. Process philosophers argue that the difficulties of capturing these features may have their roots in our tendency to understand the world in terms of substances. This tendency is a legacy of dominant philosophical views...
Stakeholders and social influence in a shadow network: implications for transitions toward urban water sustainability in the Colorado River basin
Wutich, A., DeMyers, C., Bausch, J. C., White, D. D., Sullivan, A. Insight
Shadow networks can play an important role in facilitating transitions toward more sustainable and resilient social-ecological systems. Yet, few studies have explored the microdynamics of shadow networks to understand what makes them more or less effective in sustainability transitions. This article examines stakeholder roles and social influence in support of radical innovations over time in a shadow network focused on urban water sustainability in the Colorado River basin. Using qualitative analysis of meeting transcripts and social network analysis, we analyzed the roles of stakeholders...
Understanding inaction in confronting ecosystem collapse: community perspectives from California’s Salton Sea
Buck, H. J. Research
Species loss is well-known as a defining challenge of our era. But in an era of increasing anthropogenic stressors, several ecosytems are at risk of collapsing because of human pressures. In the emergent literature on ecosystem collapse, few studies have focused on how ecosystem collapse is experienced by the communities living through it. In this paper I explore how communities understand ecosystem collapse, and possible ways of managing it, through a study of California’s largest lake. The Salton Sea is at an ecological tipping point where it is rapidly shrinking and becoming more...
Biocultural restoration in Hawaiʻi also achieves core conservation goals
Winter, K. B., Ticktin, T., Quazi, S. A. Research
Biocultural approaches to restoration have demonstrated multiple benefits for human communities, but the ecological benefits and trade-offs involved have received little attention. Using a case study from Hawaiʻi, we examined if forest restoration aimed at reviving and maintaining cultural interactions with the forest is compatible with other priority conservation metrics. We identified species of high biocultural value for an Indigenous (Native Hawaiian) community, and then tested if these species also have high conservation value in terms of their biogeographic origin, ability to...
Limited use of transformative adaptation in response to social-ecological shifts driven by climate change
Fedele, G., Donatti, C. I., Harvey, C. A., Hannah, L., Hole, D. G. Research
Climate change is increasingly driving fundamental shifts in ecosystems, land use, and human livelihoods. Because of these rapid shifts, some conventional adaptation strategies may have limited success in reducing the impact of climate change. In some circumstances, there will be a need for considering transformative changes as part of adaptation strategies that can provide long-term benefits and address the root causes of vulnerability. However, to date, there is limited understanding of how societies respond to, or drive, transformative changes in social-ecological systems due to climate...
Drivers of decoupling and recoupling of crop and livestock systems at farm and territorial scales
Garrett, R. D., Ryschawy, J., Bell, L. W., Cortner, O., Ferreira, J., Garik, A. N., Gil, J. D. B., Klerkx, L., Moraine, M., Peterson, C. A., Dos Reis, J., Valentim, J. F. Synthesis
Crop and livestock production have become spatially decoupled in existing commercial agricultural regimes throughout the world. These segregated high input production systems contribute to some of the world’s most pressing sustainability challenges, including climate change, nutrient imbalances, water pollution, biodiversity decline, and increasingly precarious rural livelihoods. There is substantial evidence that by closing the loop in nutrient and energy cycles, recoupling crop and livestock systems at farm and territorial scales can help reduce the environmental externalities...
A social-ecological approach to estimate fisher resilience: a case study from Brazil
Silva, M. R. O., Pennino, M., Lopes, P. F. M. Research
Social-ecological systems (SESs), such as fishing communities, are human and biophysical subsystems that are intrinsically connected to one another and strongly depend on natural resources. That is why these human groups are usually the first to feel the effects of policies concerning fisheries and ocean governance and the most affected by them. These policies can potentially build or erode social-ecological resilience (SER), especially if they are coupled with environmental changes. SER assessments offer a valuable tool to identify human-nature linkages, and the implications and feedbacks...
Which infrastructures for which forest function? Analyzing multifunctionality through the social-ecological system framework
Houballah, M., Cordonnier, T., Mathias, J. Research
Landscapes are subject to ecological and socioeconomic forces of change that interact in complex ways. To cope with these changes, landscape planning of natural resource management integrates sociocultural, ecological, and economic considerations in an analytic and systemic way. In this regard, social-ecological system (SES) frameworks have been developed to help analyze key factors that drive the dynamics of such complex adaptive systems. For forests, multifunctional management, which also highlights the ecological and socioeconomic roles of forests for society, has become a central...
Why fishers end up in social-ecological traps: a case study of Swedish eel fisheries in the Baltic Sea
Bj?rkvik, E., Boonstra, W. J., Hentati-Sundberg, J. Research
Unsustainable fishing can be surprisingly persistent despite devastating social, economic, and ecological consequences. Sustainability science literature suggests that the persistence of unsustainable fisheries can be understood as a social-ecological trap. Few studies have explicitly acknowledged the role of historical legacies for the development of social-ecological traps. Here, we investigate why fishers sometimes end up in social-ecological traps through a reconstruction of the historical interplay between fishers’ motivations, capacities, and opportunities to fish. We focus on...
Assessing vulnerability of subsistence travel to effects of environmental change in Interior Alaska
Cold, H. S., Brinkman, T. J., Brown, C. L., Hollingsworth, T. N., Brown, D. R. N., Heeringa, K. M. Research
Amplified climate warming at high northern latitudes is challenging societies that depend on local provisional and cultural ecosystem services, e.g., subsistence resources, for their livelihoods. Previous qualitative research suggests that climate-induced changes in environmental conditions are affecting rural residents’ ability to travel across the land and access local resources, but detailed information on the nature and effect of specific conditions is lacking. Our objectives were to identify climate-related environmental conditions affecting subsistence travel and access, and...
Toward negotiated mitigation of landslide risks in informal settlements: reflections from a pilot experience in Medellín, Colombia
27. Februar 2020 Smith, H., Coup?, F., Garcia-Ferrari, S., Rivera, H., Castro Mera, W. Research
Urbanization continues to drive informal settlement growth on land exposed to hazards such as landslides, increasing risk among low-income populations. Though technical and social ways of managing landslide risk are known, in developing countries these measures are often difficult to implement because of complex social, economic, political, and institutional reasons. We present the findings from a pilot research project in Medell?n, Colombia, which aimed to explore the scope for, and acceptability of, landslide risk-reducing strategies for informal settlements from the community and state...
The risk of underestimating long-term fisheries creep
25. Februar 2020 Scherrer, K. J. N., Galbraith, E. D. Response
A comparison of sustainability objectives: how well does the Canadian Fisheries Research Network framework compare with fisheries, forestry, and aquaculture certification schemes?
25. Februar 2020 Mussells, C., Stephenson, R. L. Research
It is increasingly recognized that fisheries management should take a more holistic approach toward full spectrum sustainability that includes ecological, social, and economic considerations. The Canadian Fisheries Research Network (CFRN) has developed an evaluation framework for comprehensive fisheries management, derived from Canadian policy and international commitments. In the changing landscape of resource management, third party market certification has grown where there are perceived management gaps and increasingly exerts pressure on management considerations. Increasingly, there...
Using participatory action research to operationalize critical systems thinking in social-ecological systems
24. Februar 2020 Eelderink, M., Vervoort, J. M., Van Laerhoven, F. Research
We present a research approach that seeks to develop and strengthen participatory action research (PAR) when applied in social-ecological systems (SES) by combining it with critical systems thinking (CST). This research approach responds to the urgent societal need to move beyond predefined project framing in development projects. While PAR acts as a basis for operationalizing participatory research processes, CST supports PAR by including explicit questions about system and problem boundaries. We first present this approach in the context of existing approaches and then go on to illustrate...
Agricultural expansion in Uruguayan grasslands and priority areas for vertebrate and woody plant conservation
24. Februar 2020 Brazeiro, A., Achkar, M., Toranza, C., Bartesaghi, L. Research
Habitat loss due to land-use change is the greatest threat to biodiversity on a global scale, and agriculture has been the principal driver of change. In Uruguay, the conversion of native grasslands to croplands (e.g., soybean) and exotic forest plantations (Eucalyptus and Pinus) has accelerated during the last two decades. We studied the vulnerability of vertebrate and woody plant diversity to the loss of grassland areas, driven by agricultural and forestry expansion, to identify priority areas for conservation. We assessed the spatial variability of biodiversity vulnerability in function...
Learning for transitions: a niche perspective
24. Februar 2020 Metelerkamp, L., Biggs, R., Drimie, S. Research
Roughly eight hundred million youth are projected to enter the African job market by 2050. This presents both an opportunity and a challenge for urgently needed sustainability transitions on the continent, because with appropriate training and skills this youth bulge could be instrumental in driving systemic change. By training the youth in new practices and approaches, they could be central to creating new systems and African futures that are more sustainable and just. We focus on the question of where the new skills and competencies needed to underpin such transitions could come from and...
Research pathways to foster transformation: linking sustainability science and social-ecological systems research
13. Februar 2020 Horcea-Milcu, A., Mart?n-L?pez, B., Lam, D. P. M., Lang, D. J. Research
Although sustainability science and social-ecological systems research pursue very similar goals, i.e., generate problem- and solution-oriented knowledge to foster sustainability transformation, they partly apply different research approaches and use different key concepts. Our aim is to identify archetypes of sustainability transformation research derived for sustainability science and social-ecological systems research that make knowledge from the two research pathways more accessible to each other in order to foster transformation. To reach this goal, we applied a mixed method approach...