Assessing thresholds and outcomes in marine social-ecological systems

Date
2024
Authors
Perng, Lansing Y.
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Oleson, Kirsten L. L.
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Natural Resources and Environmental Management
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In coastal social-ecological systems (SESs), ecosystem goods and services (EGS) are vital to many social, economic, and cultural objectives. However, the historical focus of monitoring and assessment efforts has predominantly centered on ecological states, underrepresenting equally vital social states. To support ecosystem-based management, which seeks to manage natural resources and human systems as integrated SESs, this dissertation aims to provide a comprehensive evaluation of SES conditions over time and space with an emphasis on EGS delivery. In Chapter 2, I reviewed analytical methods for identifying social thresholds and comparing achievement of social objectives across different states. I highlight methods such as Generalized Additive Modeling (GAM) and Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) for their flexible ability to discern shifts and assess SES performance. Chapter 3 applies GAM and DEA to identify social shifts and compare outcomes in six U.S. marine SESs, shedding light on management insights and regional drivers. Chapter 4 expands these analyses to a case study in Hawai‘i, where I identify thresholds and trends in region-specific fisheries, tourism, and coastal employment and link them to regulatory and environmental drivers. Finally, Chapter 5 adopts a forward-looking perspective, examining future SES conditions in Hawai‘i by integrating climate scenarios with a spatially-explicit ecosystem model to project outcomes across the main Hawaiian Islands until the end of the century. Historical thresholds and significant trends coincided with management actions, economic changes, and to a lesser extent, environmental perturbations. Future projections reveal that environmental changes, particularly climate change, are poised to exert a more pronounced influence on SES outcomes in the coming decades. Collectively, these chapters highlight the importance of place-based approaches in SES research, the complexities inherent in reconciling conflicting objectives, the need for consistent social data collection, and the growing importance of climate change impacts in shaping SES trajectories.
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Natural resource management, Ecology, Social research, climate change, coral reefs, ecosystem modeling, fisheries, social-ecological systems, thresholds
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182 pages
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