Social-ecological alignment and ecological
conditions in coral reefs

Author(s): Barnes, M., Bodin, Ö., McClanahan T., Kittinger, J., Hoey A., Gaoue, O., Graham, N.
In: Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09994-1
Year: 2019
Type: Journal / article
Theme affiliation: Marine
Link to centre authors: Bodin, Örjan
Full reference: Barnes, M., Bodin, Ö., McClanahan T., Kittinger, J., Hoey A., Gaoue, O., Graham, N. 2019. ‘Social-ecological alignment and ecological conditions in coral reefs’. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-09994-1


Complex social-ecological interactions underpin many environmental problems. To help
capture this complexity, we advance an interdisciplinary network modeling framework to
identify important relationships between people and nature that can influence environmental conditions. Drawing on comprehensive social and ecological data from five coral reef fishing communities in Kenya; including interviews with 648 fishers, underwater visual census data of reef ecosystem condition, and time-series landings data; we show that positive ecological conditions are associated with ‘social-ecological network closure’ – i.e., fully linked and thus closed network structures between social actors and ecological resources. Our results suggest that when fishers facing common dilemmas form cooperative communication ties with direct resource competitors, they may achieve positive gains in reef fish biomass and functional richness. Our work provides key empirical insight to a growing body of research on social-ecological alignment, and helps to advance an integrative framework that can be applied empirically in different social-ecological contexts.

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