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Regime shifts in a social-ecological system

Lade, Steven J., Tavoni, Alessandro ORCID: 0000-0002-2057-5720, Levin, Simon A. and Schlüter, Maja (2013) Regime shifts in a social-ecological system. Theoretical Ecology, 6 (3). pp. 359-372. ISSN 1874-1738

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Identification Number: 10.1007/s12080-013-0187-3


Ecological regime shifts are rarely purely ecological. Not only is the regime shift frequently triggered by human activity, but the responses of relevant actors to ecological dynamics are often crucial to the development and even existence of the regime shift. Here, we show that the dynamics of human behaviour in response to ecological changes can be crucial in determining the overall dynamics of the system. We find a social–ecological regime shift in a model of harvesters of a common-pool resource who avoid over-exploitation of the resource by social ostracism of non-complying harvesters. The regime shift, which can be triggered by several different drivers individually or also in combination, consists of a breakdown of the social norm, sudden collapse of co-operation and an over-exploitation of the resource. We use the approach of generalized modeling to study the robustness of the regime shift to uncertainty over the specific forms of model components such as the ostracism norm and the resource dynamics. Importantly, the regime shift in our model does not occur if the dynamics of harvester behaviour are not included in the model. Finally, we sketch some possible early warning signals for the social–ecological regime shifts we observe in the models.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht
Divisions: Grantham Research Institute
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Q Science > Q Science (General)
JEL classification: D - Microeconomics > D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics > Q2 - Renewable Resources and Conservation
Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics > Q5 - Environmental Economics
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2013 15:47
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2024 05:18
Projects: 283950 SES-LINK, EF-1137894, GEO-1211972
Funders: European Research Council under the European Unions Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007-2013), Stockholm Resilience Centre by Mistra, Economic and Social Research Council and Munich Re, National Science Foundation

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