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Masking environmental feedback: Misfits between institutions and ecosystems in Belize and Thailand
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology.
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The thesis analyses relationships between ecological and social systems in the context of coastal ecosystems. It examines human impacts from resource extraction and addresses management and governance behind resource exploitation. The main premises are that a lack of ecological knowledge leads to poor ecosystem management and that the dichotomy between social and natural systems is an artificial one. The thesis illustrates the importance of basing resource management on the ecological conditions of the resource and its ecosystem. It also demonstrates the necessity of accounting for the human dimension in ecosystem management and the challenges of organising human actions for sustainable use of ecosystem services in the face of economic incentives that push users towards short-term extraction.

Many Caribbean coral reefs have undergone a shift from coral to macroalgal domination. An experiment on Glovers Reef Atoll in Belize manually cleared patch reefs in a no-take zone and a fished zone (Papers I and II). The study hypothesised that overfishing has reduced herbivorous fish populations that control macroalgae growth. Overall, management had no significant effect on fish abundance and the impacts of the algal reduction were short-lived. This illustrated that the benefits of setting aside marine reserves in impacted environments should not be taken for granted.

Papers III and IV studied the development of the lobster and conch fisheries in Belize, and the shrimp farming industry in Thailand respectively. These studies found that environmental feedback can be masked to give the impression of resource abundance through sequential exploitation. In both cases inadequate property rights contributed to this unsustainable resource use.

The final paper (V) compared the responses to changes in the resource by the lobster fisheries in Belize and Maine in terms of institutions, organisations and their role in management. In contrast to Maine’s, the Belize system seems to lack social mechanisms for responding effectively to environmental feedback. The results illustrate the importance of organisational and institutional diversity that incorporate ecological knowledge, respond to ecosystem feedback and provide a social context for learning from and adapting to change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för systemekologi , 2004. , 35 p.
Keyword [en]
Marine reserves, ecosystem change, sequential exploitation, pathology of resource use, institutions, driving forces, coral reefs, social-ecological systems, mangroves, aquaculture, Belize, Thailand, Maine
National Category
Ecology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176ISBN: 91-7265-881-9 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-176DiVA: diva2:190535
Public defence
2004-06-07, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 C, Stockholm, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2004-05-17 Created: 2004-05-17Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Response of fishes to algal reductions at Glovers Reef, Belize
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Response of fishes to algal reductions at Glovers Reef, Belize
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2000 (English)In: Marine Ecology Progress Series, ISSN 0171-8630, Vol. 206, 273-282 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Many Caribbean coral reefs have experienced an increase in erect brown algae (species of Sargassum, Turbinaria and Lobophora) over the past 18 yr. We explored the effects of fleshy algal overgrowth on coral reef fishes by reducing erect algae by ~2.5 kg(wet) m-2 on 8 patch reefs (average size ~1000 m2) whereby half were in a new no-fishing zone and half in an unrestricted fishing zone. Another 8 reefs were left as unmanipulated controls in the respective zones. Multivariate ordination indicated that the algal removal had marginal effect on whole-fish assemblages but that effect was highly significant on the biomass of common herbivores. The reduction of erect algae resulted in a rapid increase in the abundance of the blue-headed wrasse Thalassoma bifasciatum (Labridae), in the biomass of the blue tang Acanthurus coeruleus (Acanthuridae), and in both the abundance and biomass of the spotlight parrotfish Sparisoma viride (Scaridae). Bite rates and intra- and inter-specific aggressive encounters were used as measures of resource quality, and we found that these measures increased for surgeonfishes and damselfishes after the algal reduction, particularly in the center of the patch reefs, where most erect algae was originally located. Increased accessibility, net production and palatability of the early successional turf algae on the manipulated reefs are likely to account for the increased numbers, biomass and feeding rates of the dominant herbivorous fishes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Inter-Research, 2000
Keyword
Acanthuridae · Algal-fish interactions · Brown algae · Herbivory · Labridae · Management interactions · Sargassum · Scaridae · Turbinaria
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Systems Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-23179 (URN)doi:10.3354/meps206273 (DOI)
Note
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176Available from: 2004-05-17 Created: 2004-05-17 Last updated: 2009-12-28Bibliographically approved
2. Responses of algae, corals and fish to the reduction of macroalgae in fished and unfished patch reefs of Glovers Reef Atoll, Belize
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Responses of algae, corals and fish to the reduction of macroalgae in fished and unfished patch reefs of Glovers Reef Atoll, Belize
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2001 (English)In: Coral Reefs, ISSN 0722-4028, Vol. 19, no 4, 367-379 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Macroalgae were experimentally reduced by approximately 2.5 kg/m2 on eight similar-sized patch reefs of Glovers Reef Atoll, Belize, in September 1998. Four of these reefs were in a protected "no-take" zone and four were in a "general use" fishing zone. Eight adjacent reefs (four in each management zone) were also studied as unmanipulated controls to determine the interactive effect of algal reduction and fisheries management on algae, coral, fish, and rates of herbivory. The 16 reefs were sampled five times for 1 year after the manipulation. We found that the no-fishing zone had greater population densities for 13 of 30 species of fish, including four herbivorous species, but lower herbivory levels by sea urchins. However, there was lower stony coral cover and higher macroalgal cover in the "no-take" zone, both prior to and after the experiment. There were no significant effects of management on the percent cover of fleshy macroalgae. The algal reduction resulted in an increase in six fish species, including four herbivores and two which feed on invertebrates. One species, Lutjanus griseus, declined in experimental reefs. Macroalgal biomass quickly recovered from the reduction in both management areas within a few months, and by species-level community measures within 1 year, while stony coral was reduced in all treatments. Coral bleaching and Hurricane Mitch disturbed the site at the beginning of the study period and may explain the loss of stony coral and rapid increase in erect algae. We suggest that reducing macroalgae, as a technique to restore turf and encrusting coralline algae and stony corals, may work best after reefs have been fully protected from fishing for a period long enough to allow herbivorous fish to recover (i.e. >5 years). Further ecological studies on Glovers Reef are required to understand the shift from coral to algal dominance that has occurred on this reef in the last 25 years.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer, 2001
Keyword
Algae - Coral reef fishes - Disturbance - Fishing - Herbivory - Marine protected areas
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Systems Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-23180 (URN)10.1007/s003380000131 (DOI)
Note
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176Available from: 2004-05-17 Created: 2004-05-17 Last updated: 2009-12-28Bibliographically approved
3. Lobster and conch fisheries of Belize – a history of sequential exploitation
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Lobster and conch fisheries of Belize – a history of sequential exploitation
2005 (English)In: Conservation Ecology / Ecology & Society/, ISSN 1195-5449, Vol. 10, no 1Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article presents a historical review of the lobster and conch fisheries in Belize, Central America. In terms of yield and value, these are the main wild-caught targets of the national fisheries, a small-scale commercial fishery of around 3000 fishermen. Data were collected during interviews with key informants involved with the fisheries and through literature and archive research. The goal was to study how the fishing industry has responded to environmental signals from these resources and from their ecosystems and ecosystem dynamics. National yields for both lobster and conch have been relatively stable, however, individuals’ yields have been declining despite increased effort since the 1980s. This study concludes that the use of fossil fuel-based technology and organizational change, with the establishment of fishermen’s cooperatives, have masked environmental signals. This masking, together with economic incentives, has led to the “pathology of resource use.” As a symptom of this pathology, four forms of sequential exploitation in these fisheries were identified. A major conclusion is that social resilience may not confer ecological resilience. The development of the cooperatives was needed in order to improve equity in the industry. Before their impacts could be assessed, this organizational change, together with new technology, led to very important and rapid changes in the industry. Together with existing regulations that allow de facto open access to lobster and conch, these changes resulted in a short-term boom that has resulted in the pathology of resource use, with over-capitalization and dependence on maintained yields, regardless of environmental feedback.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Ottawa: Carleton University for The Resiliance Alliance,, 2005
Keyword
Belize; marine reserves; pathology of resource use; queen conch; sequential exploitation; spiny lobster
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Systems Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-23181 (URN)
Note
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176Available from: 2004-05-17 Created: 2004-05-17 Last updated: 2009-12-28Bibliographically approved
4. Development and government policies of the shrimp farming industry in Thailand in relation to mangrove ecosystems
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Development and government policies of the shrimp farming industry in Thailand in relation to mangrove ecosystems
2002 (English)In: Ecological Economics, ISSN 0921-8009, Vol. 40, no 3, 441-455 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Intensive shrimp farming arrived in Thailand during the 1980s and developed virtually unregulated until 1987. Subsidised by the government, it quickly became an important export industry and Thailand has been the world's largest producer of tiger shrimp since 1991. However, the development of the shrimp farming industry in Thailand over the last 20 years in relation to its use of mangrove ecosystems is an example of sequential exploitation of natural resources witnessed through the shift in farm development from one region to another. This sequential exploitation has caused widespread degradation of mangrove ecosystems, and the benefits of the industry may be less than perceived as a result of subsidies and environmental and social impacts. This study follows the development of shrimp farming in Thailand from the 1940s to 1997 and studies national legislation and associated government policy as examples of driving forces behind this development. From our findings it appears that the development of legislation has not followed the same pace as the development of the industry, neither temporally, nor in content nor implementation, and contradictory policies have arisen.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2002
Keyword
Formal institutions; Driving forces; Sequential exploitation
National Category
Biological Sciences
Research subject
Systems Ecology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-23182 (URN)10.1016/S0921-8009(02)00011-3 (DOI)
Note
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176Available from: 2004-05-17 Created: 2004-05-17 Last updated: 2009-12-28Bibliographically approved
5. Comparative study of the lobster fisheries in Maine and Belize: Identifying factors that contribute to social-ecological resilience
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Comparative study of the lobster fisheries in Maine and Belize: Identifying factors that contribute to social-ecological resilience
Manuscript (Other academic)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-23183 (URN)
Note
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-176Available from: 2004-05-17 Created: 2004-05-17 Last updated: 2010-01-13Bibliographically approved

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