SYMP 15-2
Cooperation in coupled natural-human systems: Its emergence and importance

Wednesday, August 12, 2015: 2:00 PM
309, Baltimore Convention Center
James R. Watson, College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University
Jameal F. Samhouri, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Fisheries, Seattle, WA
John Lynham, Department of Economics, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa,, HI
Erol Akcay, Department of Biology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Emma Fuller, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
Andrew Tilman, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Michelle Barnes-Mauthe, Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Management, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa,
Emily Klein, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
Matthieu Barbier, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University
Simon A. Levin, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
Background/Question/Methods: In coupled natural-human systems, one of the best forms of sustainable resource use is when the resource users themselves act sustainably. However, there are a myriad of factors affecting whether people choose to act sustainably or not. Here, we will present the results of an NSF: Coupled Natural-Human Systems research project investigating the social, ecological and technological conditions for the emergence of self-organized sustainable governance. Our focus is on marine systems, and the specific role of information sharing between fishers. 

Results/Conclusions: lines of research will be shown. First, new spatial data sets, such as vessel monitoring system data, logbook and observer data are being mined for information about levels of cooperation amongst fishers on the US west coast. Combined with interview data, a deeper understanding of the economic risks fishers are exposed to is gained, as well as the collective action agreements fishers make to minimize their exposure to risk. Second, foraging theory and agent-based simulations of fish and fishers are shedding light on the ecological settings in which we find cooperation, and on the emergent topology of fishing fleet social networks. Third, theory from evolutionary biology can be used to identify cooperative strategies that are stable in the long run, and which are resistant to free riders who act selfishly. In such situations we find that self-organized cooperatives must harvest at higher rates than is optimal in order to ensure the stability of their collective action agreement. In sum, this interdisciplinary research of coupled natural-human systems is aimed at improving our understanding of how these systems self organize into sustainable and stable states. The ultimate goal is to apply this knowledge across systems and at a variety of scales, to provide a pathway for sustainability now and in the future.