Social networks and environmental outcomes

Barnes, Michele L., Lynham, John, Kalberg, Kolter, and Leung, PingSun (2016) Social networks and environmental outcomes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113 (23). pp. 6466-6471.

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Social networks can profoundly affect human behavior, which is the primary force driving environmental change. However, empirical evidence linking microlevel social interactions to large-scale environmental outcomes has remained scarce. Here, we leverage comprehensive data on information-sharing networks among large-scale commercial tuna fishers to examine how social networks relate to shark bycatch, a global environmental issue. We demonstrate that the tendency for fishers to primarily share information within their ethnic group creates segregated networks that are strongly correlated with shark bycatch. However, some fishers share information across ethnic lines, and examinations of their bycatch rates show that network contacts are more strongly related to fishing behaviors than ethnicity. Our findings indicate that social networks are tied to actions that can directly impact marine ecosystems, and that biases toward within-group ties may impede the diffusion of sustainable behaviors. Importantly, our analysis suggests that enhanced communication channels across segregated fisher groups could have prevented the incidental catch of over 46,000 sharks between 2008 and 2012 in a single commercial fishery.

Item ID: 48384
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1091-6490
Funders: National Science Foundation (NSF), USA, University of Hawaii
Projects and Grants: NSF Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Grant 1513354
Date Deposited: 25 May 2017 01:15
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 50%
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441002 Environmental sociology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 33%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 33%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 34%
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