Wicked social–ecological problems forcing unprecedented change on the latitudinal margins of coral reefs: the case of southwest Madagascar

Bruggemann, J. Henrich, Rodier, Martine, Guillaume, Mireille M.M., Andréfouët, Serge, Arfi, Robert, Cinner, Joshua E., Pichon, Michel, Ramahatatra, Frederic, Rasoamanendrika, Faravavy, Zinke, Jens, and McClanahan, Tim R. (2012) Wicked social–ecological problems forcing unprecedented change on the latitudinal margins of coral reefs: the case of southwest Madagascar. Ecology and Society, 17 (4). 47. pp. 1-17.

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Abstract

High-latitude coral reefs may be a refuge and area of reef expansion under climate change. As these locations are expected to become dryer and as livestock and agricultural yields decline, coastal populations may become increasingly dependent on marine resources. To evaluate this social–ecological conundrum, we examined the Grand Récif of Toliara (GRT), southwest Madagascar, which was intensively studied in the 1960s and has been highly degraded since the 1980s. We analyzed the social and ecological published and unpublished literature on this region and provide new data to assess the magnitude of the changes and evaluate the causes of reef degradation. Top-down controls were identified as the major drivers: human population growth and migrations, overfishing, and climate change, specifically decreased rainfall and rising temperature. Water quality has not changed since originally studied, and bottom-up control was ruled out. The identified network of social–ecological processes acting at different scales implies that decision makers will face complex problems that are linked to broader social, economic, and policy issues. This characterizes wicked problems, which are often dealt with by partial solutions that are exploratory and include inputs from various stakeholders along with information sharing, knowledge synthesis, and trust building. A hybrid approach based on classical fishery management options and preferences, along with monitoring, feedback and forums for searching solutions, could move the process of adaptation forward once an adaptive and appropriately scaled governance system is functioning. This approach has broad implications for resources management given the emerging climate change and multiple social and environmental stresses.

Item ID: 24993
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1708-3087
Keywords: adaptation; climate change; governance; marine resources; migration; solutions
Funders: Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2013 01:27
FoR Codes: 06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 100%
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