Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment / CBIE Working Papers / How does knowledge infrastructure mobilization influence the safe operating space of regulated exploited ecosystems?

How does knowledge infrastructure mobilization influence the safe operating space of regulated exploited ecosystems?



Managing and regulating exploited ecosystems is a critical issue because of uncertainties, non-linear dynamics, and time delays. Decision-makers often have to act before critical times to avoid the collapse of ecosystems using imperfect knowledge. Adaptive management may help managers tackle such issues. However, because the knowledge infrastructure required for adaptive management may be mobilized in several ways, we study how the following typology of knowledge and its use may impact the safe operating space of exploited ecosystems: 1) knowledge of the past based on a time series distorted by measurement errors; 2) knowledge of the current systems dynamics based on the representativeness of the decision makers mental models of the exploited ecosystem; iii) knowledge of future events based on decision-makers likelihood estimates of extreme events based on modeling infrastructure (models and experts to interpret them) they have at their disposal. We consider different adaptive management strategies of a general regulated exploited ecosystem model and we characterize the robustness of these strategies to imperfect knowledge. Our results show that even with signicant mobilized knowledge and optimal strategies, imperfect knowledge may still shrink the safe operating space of the system leading to the collapse of the system. However, and perhaps more interestingly, we also show that in some cases imperfect knowledge may unexpectedly increase the safe operating space by suggesting cautious strategies. Beyond the quantitative results, we focus on the importance of understanding the subtleties of how adaptive knowledge mobilization and knowledge infrastructure affect the robustness of exploited ecosystems.

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Published February 16, 2018

Jean-Denis Mathias, IRSTEA, Laboratoire d’Ingénierie pour les Systémes Complexes

John M. Anderies, School of Sustainability/School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University

Marco Janssen, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University